Health Care

How do you know that you're getting the best treatment? Cancer surgery success rates vary widely, yet patients may not have access to the information they need to choose a surgeon.

1994 paper on health care effectiveness.

Health Care and "Rationing"

Opponents of government involvement in health care demonize "rationing", which implies a denial of necessary care. Yet, as David Leonhart explains, rationing is always necessary. The choice is between good and bad rationing and state government budget constraints are already rationing health care. Spending money on ineffective treatment takes resources away from more effective treatment, or prevention, or income that could be spent on other things. See this article by Peter Singer - a professor of bioethics at Princeton University - on "Why We Must Ration Health Care". He points out - correctly - that we currently ration health care based on ability to pay for insurance. Opponents of health care reform in the United States raise the prospect of some bureaucrat denying you the health care you need, but that's what private insurer bureaucrats do now.

Health Care and Incentives

Here's a New York Times sponsored debate on the role of physician incentives.

Low Medicaid payments in Maine have led doctors to close private practices and move to hospitals where they have more market power to jack up rates to private insurers.

An influential New Yorker article explains how high regional cost variations are driven by the quantity of services prescribed.

Arrow on Health Care

Here's Arrow's 1963 paper, which I first heard about in Uwe Reinhardt's column in the New York Times. Here's Reinhardt's second column on the subject, where he talks about the impact of uncertainty and asymmetric information.

Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act

Here's a summary of the Act from the Library of Congress.

Consumer's Role

Paul Krugman raised an interesting question in April 2011 about the ability of people to be effective consumers of health care. His point is that people can't make good decisions by themselves; they need help from health professionals. The question then is: is relying on health care professionals the best way to make decisions about health care consumption? This is a principal-agent problem: the patient wants to ensure that the principal acts in their interest. But there is also the question of rationing. Is it worth spending $250,000 to keep Granny alive for another year or two? Decision-makers who are not personally liable for the bill - for example, those who are covered by Medicare - face different incentives than those that are.

Does the Free Market Work for Health Care?

In this New Yorker opinion piece, James Suroweicki says no.

Health Care: Where Does the Money Go?

In "The 2.7 Trillion Medical Bill, the New York Times article argues that the price of medical procedures is too high in this country. Medical practitioners respond to the article.

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