Michael Keane, 26 May 2019

Launched in 2006, Medicare Part D allows beneficiaries to enrol in subsidised drug coverage plans sold by private insurers, but navigating the different plans can be complex and lead to sub-optimal choices. This column uses Medicare administrative data for 2006-2010 to understand the quality of consumer decision-making in the Part D marketplace. It finds that the vast majority of elderly place too much weight on premiums relative to out-of-pocket costs, care a great deal about the particular combination of plan features, and are highly likely to choose the same plan every year regardless of changes in prices and alternatives.

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.

Janet Currie, Hannes Schwandt, Josselin Thuilliez, 10 August 2018

Understanding how inequalities in health are related to inequalities in income is a key issue for policymakers. This column describes how despite increasing income inequality in both countries, the development of mortality has been very different in France compared with the US. The findings show that inequalities in income and health do not necessarily move in tandem, and highlight how public policy helps to break this link. 

Katherine Ho, Robin Lee, 16 September 2016

The US health insurance market is becoming less competitive due to mergers and withdrawal of services from certain states. This column examines how this affects consumers through insurance premiums and hospital reimbursement rates. Using employer-sponsored insurance data from California, it finds that the relationship between insurer competition and health care spending depends on institutional and market structure.  If premiums can be constrained through effective regulation or negotiation, then reduced competition might lead to lower costs. Absent such constraints, consumers will likely be harmed.

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The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and Asian Growth Research Institute (AGI) invite submissions of unpublished papers that focus on issues relating to aging in developing Asia. Both theoretical and empirical research papers with a policy orientation are welcome, provided the findings, conclusions, and policy recommendations are based on solid evidence and analysis. Manuscripts may focus on Asia as a whole, a group of countries, or individual economies.

Papers may deal with, but are not limited to, the following topics:

Public and private pensions
Long-term care and public and private long-term care insurance
Health care and public and private health insurance
Aging, the labor market, and human capital formation

Terence Cheng, Joan Costa-i-Font, Nattavudh Powdthavee, 31 July 2015

Economists have traditionally viewed healthcare as a luxury good – consumption of it will increase more than proportionally as income rises. This column challenges this view, exploiting the windfall of lottery winnings to estimate elasticities for healthcare demand in the UK. Results suggest that income elasticities for public healthcare services are close to zero. A medium to large windfall is found instead to increase the uptake of private health insurance and preventative services. This suggests that rising incomes will increase private sector demand, but will leave public healthcare demand unchanged.

Savannah Bergquist, Joan Costa-i-Font, Katherine Swartz, 10 July 2015

Limited insurance for long-term care threatens the sustainability of publicly funded social assistance programmes such as Medicaid in the US. This column looks at the effectiveness of a programme that encourages middle-income people to save for possible long-term care expenses. The evidence so far indicates that although this programme has indeed increased insurance applications, it has not increased insurance uptake.

Charles Courtemanche, 08 March 2015

One important component of Obamacare – a dependent coverage provision for young people – took effect in 2010. It allowed dependents to remain on parents’ insurance coverage until age of 26. This column discusses the impact of this coverage on a number of outcomes. The results indicate that provision improved young adults’ health care access, did not influence preventive care utilisation, had mixed effects on health behaviours, and improved some but not all dimensions of self-assessed health.

Alejandro Del Valle, 04 February 2015

Illness shocks can decimate the economic opportunities of the poor. Women’s employment opportunities are particularly constrained by illness because their time is often diverted to the care of sick children.  This column argues that the provision of publicly subsidised health insurance in Mexico has led to an increase in labour supply. This increase has occurred in part because insurance has enabled women to reallocate time away from caregiving tasks to work in the labour market. These findings suggest that health insurance does more than improve health: it also empowers women. 

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