Archive for the ‘Health Economics’ Category

universal health care and universal pensions

Friday, April 27th, 2018

This week’s Economist magazine contains a superb leader, “Universal health care, worldwide, is within reach“. Reading it, it occurred to me that many of the points in it apply equally to universal basic income for older persons.

In a major section of the leader, titled “How the other half dies”, I did little more than substitute “universal basic pensions” for “universal basic health care”, and came up with the following essay. (more…)

high pharma prices in the USA

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

High prices for prescription drugs are not the only reason for the high cost of medical care in the US, but it is an important reason. Here is an ungated paper that seeks to explain how, and especially why, pharmaceutical companies charge so much, and are so profitable. The simple reason is they can get away with it!

Here is about half of an informative abstract from the full working paper. I especially recommend the paper’s conclusion, “How to Fix US Pharma’s Broken Business Model”. (more…)

the high cost of healthcare in the USA

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

The United States spends much more on healthcare than other countries, and receives less for it. But why is spending on healthcare out of control and seemingly so ineffective in the USA? Siddhartha Mukherjee, a Columbia University professor of medicine, summarizes and comments on a paper written by three researchers from Harvard and the London School of Economics. Here are some snippets from his readable essay; the full article contains much more of value and interest. (more…)

towards universal health care in Burkina Faso

Friday, March 30th, 2018

When only 1% of your population has health insurance, the road to universal coverage is a long one. Burkina Faso is beginning this journey, but is off on a rocky start.

In 2012 an initiative was launched to provide healthcare for the “poorest of the poor”. The International Social Security Review, a journal published for the International Social Security Association under the under the auspices of the International Labour Organization, has an article on this in the latest issue. Unfortunately, it is available to subscribers only. I do not have a subscription, so could only read the abstract, which I reproduce below.

The initiative was not successful, as might have been predicted, as the poor were required to make co-payments, no doubt on top of their insurance contribution, and were limited to three visits to a doctor or hospital per year. It is not clear from the abstract if this limitation was per family or per family member. (more…)

healthcare in China

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Healthcare used to be free for Chinese citizens. Now the healthcare system is moving toward that of the United States – a low bar for healthcare, at least for the poor. (more…)

the high cost of high-quality healthcare

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

The UK is unusual in that nearly all its spending on heathcare is done by government, through the National Health Service (NHS). It is unusual also in that its government spending (7.7% of GDP) and total spending (9.7% of GDP) on healthcare is near the bottom of the G7 high-income countries. Only Italy ranks lower. (more…)

the American way of healthcare

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

The US approach to healthcare is without doubt the worst in the developed world. It is even worse than that of many low-income countries. Much has been written on this, but FT columnist Rana Foroohar manages to add to the discussion. She even writes about her own experience at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the UK, where she gave birth to two children. She reports that she was pleased to have all her needs “from basic check-ups to specialist visits — provided quickly and efficiently in the same place”. (more…)

towards the elimination of polio

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

One piece of good news is that that polio has been eliminated in nearly all countries of the world, and is on the verge of being eliminated everywhere. I never knew before that the American medical researcher Jonas Salk (1914-1995), who discovered, developed and introduced the first polio vaccine in 1955, campaigned for mandatory vaccination and never patented his vaccine, so never profited from its use.

The good news rarely unfolds as swiftly as the bad, so this graph dates back to 1980. Polio was once a global scourge, and was endemic in 125 countries as recently as 1988. Polio clings on in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and particularly Pakistan — but the world is on the verge of eliminating it entirely. Jonas Salk, who developed the first polio vaccine in the 1950s, did not patent it, declaring, “could you patent the sun?”

Tim Harford, “A year in charts: From bitcoin to Trump and chess playing robots“, The Big Read, Financial Times, 28 December 2017 (gated paywall).

This chart is one of many in Mr Harford’s column.

Polio is all but eradicated. Number of reported paralytic polio cases (thousands)

price-gouging by big pharma

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

A new pharmaceutical company, with an office in Alabama but no production facilities, has simplified things by charging the same price ($295) for two products (Niacor and SSKI), which previously sold for $32.46 (100 tablets) and $11.48 (30ml) respectively. (more…)

The Heritage Foundation on Health, 1989

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Every once in a while people make the point that much of what eventually became Obamacare came from, of all places, the Heritage Foundation – that is, the ACA is basically what conservatives used to advocate on health care. So I recently reread Stuart Butler’s 1989 Heritage Foundation lecture, “Assuring Affordable Health Care For All Americans” – hmm, where have I seen similar language? — to see how true that is; and the answer is, it really is pretty much true. ….

Overall, what’s striking about the Heritage plan is that it’s not notably more conservative than what Obama actually implemented: a bit less regulation, a substantial amount of additional spending. If Obamacare is an extreme leftist measure, as so many Republicans claim, the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s was a leftist institution.

Paul Krugman, “Heritage On Health, 1989“, The Conscience of a Liberal, 30 July 2017.

Professor Krugman’s blog is gated, but the lecture that he cites is freely available for anyone who would like to read it. It does seem more leftist than conservative. How times have changed since the 1980s!