Health economics

Molly Frean, Mark V. Pauly, 08 January 2019

Both healthcare spending levels and growth in the US have exceeded other developed countries for many years. With healthcare costs rising at an unsustainable pace, a greater percentage of workers in the US are being enrolled in high-deductible health plans. This column estimates the relationship between high deductibles and the growth in total healthcare spending on all medical goods and services. It finds that deductible levels have a considerable effect on spending growth, and suggests that the natural next step is to explore whether or how that affects health outcomes.

Radim Bohacek, Jesus Bueren, Laura Crespo, Pedro Mira, Josep Pijoan-Mas, 06 December 2018

Comparing cross-country similarities and differences can be useful to understand the origins of health inequality, but is hampered by a lack of harmonised and comparable data. This column brings together panel data from ten countries in continental Europe, England, and the US to compare inequalities in total life expectancy, disability-free life expectancy, and years spent in disability across education levels and gender. Among the findings are that ‘women get sicker but men die quicker’ is to a large extent a low-education phenomenon.

David Bloom, Paige Kirby, JP Sevilla, Andrew Stawasz, 03 December 2018

Worldwide ageing trends are steering global demographics into uncharted territory, transforming populations and societies around the globe. Japan is leading the way in this growth wave as the world’s oldest population and is now grappling with the substantial socioeconomic burdens an ageing population places on society. This column discusses the coming challenges associated with population ageing alongside plausible solutions. While there is no magic bullet for these challenges, there is scope to devise a multi-pronged solutions portfolio of complementary initiatives that includes a number of measures to promote and protect elderly health.  

Damian Clarke, Hanna Mühlrad, 12 November 2018

Women’s health is frequently cited when debating the merits of abortion legislation. However, the arguments are often based on evidence which is correlational or drawn from small or non-representative samples of women. This column explores the impacts of abortion legislation on women’s health using the universe of health records from Mexico, where abortion was legalised in the Federal District of Mexico while sanctions on abortion were increased in other regions of the country. It documents immediate reductions in rates of hospitalisation of women with the legalisation of abortion.

Daniel Bauer, Darius Lakdawalla, Julian Reif, 05 November 2018

People with shorter life expectancies place more value on increases in survival than people who anticipate longer life spans. That may seem obvious, but economists have been making the opposite prediction for decades. This column demonstrates the mistake in the earlier theory and points out important policy implications, including that payers and governments are undervaluing investments in treating highly severe illnesses.

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