We’re back finally after issues with Lenovo/China’s Evil Empire and a case of laryngitis (actually both still ongoing, but other computer manufacturers make machines that work and I can type even if I can’t speak). Today’s posting will be relatively short because I’m doing this in the middle of class (review of supply/demand curves).
Cost of health initiative up $400m– It looks like the much-discussed (see almost every other Links of the Day) Massachusetts universal health initiative is running into more problems as the new projected costs have gone up by $400 million for next year.
The biggest driver of the cost increase is projected growth in the number of people signing up for state-subsidized insurance, which now far exceeds earlier estimates.
State and federal taxpayers are expected to bear nearly all of the additional cost.
Governor Deval Patrick, known for his ambiguous “Together We Can” motto and expensive curtains and cars, does not seem concerned with this as he has a source of funding (taxpayers, a very innovative idea), but other policymakers are less enthusiastic about it. The proposed funding increase needs to get legislative approval, but that shouldn’t be a problem in Massachusetts. The original intent of the plan was to bring down the costs of caring for a group that was uninsured at the time. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. For some reason, I think Obama and Clinton(s) will conveniently leave this part out of the universal health care discussion. . .
Wall Street Journal:
Doctors Paid To Prescribe Generic Pills– Do you remember that your physician tried to switch you from a name-brand drug to a generic? Well, he/she may have had some incentives other than the fact that they should be fairly similar (we will make a generic drug post at some point). Some insurers have been paying MDs $100 for each drug they switch from name-brand to generic. It’s an interesting article that talks about the arguments from both sides although I’m sure you can guess that one side argues that it creates improper incentives.
Can Health Access Improve Without More Docs, Nurses?– Interesting argument from AMN Healthcare that the candidates are ignoring the supply part of the health care equation. It seems to me that if we increase the number of providers (assuming they are well-trained) we can create enough competition among them for patients to drive down their prices. The other similar solution would be for physicians at academic institutions not to spend an hour with each patient so they can say they dig into the deep social issues in their patients lives. That way they could see more than 5 patients in an afternoon. Actually, since I’ll be charging people money for my recommendations in a couple years perhaps we should keep the current system and cost structure. . .