Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Economics of Health Care

A Category Archive (798 entries)

What's a Doctor to Do?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen posted a question asked by a 3rd-year medical student who's a regular reader of MR. Here's the question: I am a 3rd year medical student, and for the purposes of this question, let's assume... MORE

Michael Cannon's Cannon

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Cato Institute's health economist Michael Cannon is the lead economist in a legal case that takes on the IRS. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, grants tax credits to low-income people who buy health insurance in state-run exchanges. There... MORE

Victory at Oberlin

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
After my debate on Obamacare at Oberlin College on Wednesday, dozens of cheering students came running to the stage, lifted me up and carried me away because of my total victory over my opponent, Ted Marmor. OK, well that's not... MORE

Proposed Questions for Oberlin Debate

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I announced back in February that I will be debating Yale University's Ted Marmor on health care, with emphasis on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. I asked you for proposed questions because the debate isn't structured as a traditional... MORE

Optometry Challenge

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Give me one good reason why basic eye exams can't already be done by a robot. Written while waiting for a human with an M.D. to repeatedly ask me "Better like this... or like that?"... MORE

Value of Self-Rated Health Bleg

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Social scientists and medical researchers often ask people to rate their own health.  The General Social Survey, for example, asks respondents to place themselves on a four-step scale:Would you say your own health, in general, is excellent, good, fair, or... MORE

The European Union versus the e-cig

Economics of Health Care
Alberto Mingardi
In December last year we discussed the new European directive on tobacco products. It has been approved, and includes, as Andy Coghlan reports on the New Scientist, "strict conditions on how e-cigarettes can be formulated, advertised and sold". Now, if... MORE

Health Insurance as Collective Bargaining

Economics of Health Care
James Schneider
McKinsey has studied the hospital networks that are being used by plans on the new public health exchanges. They divide networks into three groups that they call broad, narrow, and ultra-narrow. Broad networks contain more than 70 percent of the... MORE

All three factors can combine to make the value of the insurance policy well below its price. Let's say that the family values the insurance at $3,500. That family is worse off because it is paying $4,000 net of the... MORE

Don't Nudge Me, Man! - Health Insurance Edition

Economics of Health Care
James Schneider
Nudge's chapter on Medicare Part D discussed the difficulties people had making optimal plan choices. The elderly often faced such a bewildering array of plans that it would have been almost impossible to minimize out-of-pocket expenses based on the specific... MORE

Bleg on Health Care Questions

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
On March 19, I will be speaking at Oberlin College in Ohio. It will be a debate with Ted Marmor of Yale University. Well, not quite a debate. The format is that the organizers, Professor Marmor, and I will agree... MORE

Deception-Based Medicine

Economics of Health Care
James Schneider
Emily Oster stirred a lot of controversy when she suggested that pregnant women could enjoy a drink of alcohol if they so chose. Why did she arrive at a view that clashed with much of the American medical establishment? She... MORE

Self-Harm is a Luxury

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From Cutler and Lleras-Muney, "Understanding Differences in Health Behaviors by Education" (Journal of Health Economics 2010):Differences in prices or in response to prices are a second potential reason for education-related differences in health behaviors. This shows up most clearly in... MORE

DeMuth on Obamacare

Economics of Health Care
Alberto Mingardi
Chris DeMuth has an excellent article on Obamacare in the last issue of The Weekly Standard. DeMuth points out that the new American mandatory insurance system has shortcomings that are not necessarily related to the idea of mandatory insurance -... MORE

Briggs and Tabarrok provide strong evidence that gun ownership increases suicide risk.  The response to their research provides strong evidence that readers swiftly twist research to suit their prejudices.  A slight caricature of the two standard reactions:Reaction #1: Crusade.  Guns... MORE

Rights are Obligations, and That's the Problem

Economics of Health Care
Art Carden
In a consideration of the HHS mandate, Rachel Held Evans (who spoke at my institution a few months ago) asks whether it is OK for firms to refuse to provide contraceptive coverage as a matter of religious conscience. A few... MORE

Matt Yglesias: Health Insurance Doesn't Affect Mortality

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In comparing Bush on Hurricane Katrina and Obama on ObamaCare, Matt Yglesias writes: The administration and the Democratic Party writ large had very high aspirations for the Affordable Care Act, viewing it as a legacy-defining major pillar of the American... MORE

UPDATE BELOW In selling the health-care plan that bears his name, President Obama has, according to the fact-checking website Politifact, said at least 34 times that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it." That statement was... MORE

Obama: Government Doesn't Work

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
You know, one of the lessons--learned from this whole process on the website [healthcare.gov]--is that probably the biggest gap between the private sector and the federal government is when it comes to I.T. [Information Technology] ... Well, the reason [that... MORE

The Pre-Existing Condition Exaggeration

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
One of the claims that many supporters of ObamaCare made during the debate in 2009 and early 2010 is that many people could not get insurance because of pre-existing conditions. I was always skeptical of this claim for a simple... MORE

Did Obama Break His Promise?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Jared Bernstein's Sense of Time On a number of occasions before ObamaCare passed in late March 2010, President Obama promised that if you like your current health insurance plan, you can keep it. Now Jared Bernstein, formerly Joe Biden's chief... MORE

Friday Night Video: CBS Recognizes How ObamaCare Can Hurt

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Here. Notice the guy who says the young woman is paying more for a better product and more protection. Really? She pointed out that her deductible would rise from $1500 to $4000 and that after that, the insurance for only... MORE

Reply to Professor Erik Brynjolfsson

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In the comments section of my post yesterday on health insurance, "The Pre-Existing Elephant in the Room," Erik Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, Chair of... MORE

The Pre-Existing Elephant in the Room

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
When Republicans advocate, and have advocated, delaying or even ending the individual mandate to buy health insurance, I am, and have been, with them. I don't like the government initiating force against people. But no one should kid himself that... MORE

Reinhardt on Doctors' Monopoly

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Organized medicine invariably opposes wider scopes of practice and independent practice of nonphysician health professionals, ostensibly not to protect economic turf but to protect the quality of patient care. Curiously, one rarely finds those to be protected by this paternalism... MORE

Higher-Cost Health Insurance for Older California Resident

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
One thing that pretty much everyone expected if he/she had paid attention during the ObamaCare debate is that the new law would impose a huge cost on young people. That seems to be happening. But what do we make of... MORE

Daniel Goleman's Attack

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
In "Rich People Care Less," Daniel Goleman, the famous psychologist who writes about emotional intelligence, writes: In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them. The insistence by some House Republicans in Congress on... MORE

Would Obamacare Have Saved Walter White's Soul?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Non-Finale Breaking Bad Spoilers]The Daily Beast's Jamelle Bouie claims that Obamacare would have ruined the premise of Breaking Bad:Remember, the instigating action of the series is White's cancer diagnosis--in order to pay for his treatments and leave a nest... MORE

Ezra Klein's Claim about the Shutdown

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
This [the shutdown of well under half of the federal government] is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance.... MORE

Weekend Wall Street Journal

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I rarely do a potpourri of various links but the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal this weekend had 5 good op/eds: the Weekend Interview, the two unsigned "Review and Outlook," and two pieces by non-WSJ authors. 1. Weekend... MORE

Regulating your diet

Economics of Health Care
Alberto Mingardi
Food taxes are apparently proliferating, all over Europe. Finland introduced taxes on sugared products; France now has a special tax on all soft drinks and Hungary increased taxes on food with high fat, sugar and salt content. The trailblazers on... MORE

Free Market Schizophrenia

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Ted Levy, a physician friend of mine who has often commented on this blog, sent me the following. I thought it was good enough to post. It's essentially a very sharp non-economist's way of explaining what economists call "the theory... MORE

Life Extension: Economists vs. the Public

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Earlier this year, Pew surveyed Americans' beliefs about life extension.  I was appalled by their nihilistic responses.  Worst of the bunch:Asked about the consequences for society if new medical treatments could "slow the aging process and allow the average person... MORE

I Was Wrong: Avik Roy was Right

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
Avik Roy and I went back and forth by e-mail throughout the day yesterday about my blog post on his article. I still thought he was wrong. But what convinced me was the comment on my post by "Handle." I... MORE

Can Higher Limits of Out-of-Pocket Costs Help Consumers?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
UPDATE BELOW: Avik Roy replies. I got back from my vacation early Monday morning, a vacation on which I had limited Internet access. That's why I didn't respond to this Avik Roy article earlier. Still, I thought that by the... MORE

Thoughts from the hospital

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Alberto Mingardi
I am just back from an unplanned vacation in a hospital. In a very fundamental way, I know I was lucky. I live in Milan, in Lombardy (9.7 million people, GDP per capita € 33.500), where we enjoy good quality... MORE

Noah Smith on Wealth and Efficiency

Cost-benefit Analysis
David Henderson
In a recent post on how "normal people" think about economics, Noah Smith writes something that I strongly disagree with: In a certain sense, the normal people's approach makes more sense than that of the economists. We are an incredibly... MORE

Robin Cook's Mistaken Idea about Pooling Risk

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I'm on vacation in Hawaii and just finished the first novel I've read in months. It's Marker by Robin Cook. While it's a real page turner and I enjoyed it, I found the ending, which I began to anticipate halfway... MORE

Henderson on Reinhardt on Goodman and Kotlikoff

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In a letter to the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt criticizes an earlier op/ed by health economist John C. Goodman and economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff. It was an interesting enough response that I think... MORE

Henderson on Kunruether et al

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
But Kunreuther, Pauly, and McMorrow show that when insurance regulators themselves don't cause adverse selection, it tends not to happen. They write: Where adverse selection does potentially occur, and to a serious degree, is in markets where regulation prevents insurers... MORE

What Tyler Cowen Said

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I have not taken the time this week to go through the huge controversy on the web about the preliminary results on the effect of ObamaCare on health insurance prices in California. That's not to say that I haven't read... MORE

The Flaw in Heyne, Boettke, and Prychitko

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In a post on Tuesday, "Find the Flaw," I asked readers to find and evaluate the implicit assumption in the following passage from an economics textbook: When physicians must be licensed and new drugs approved by the Food and Drug... MORE

Find the Flaw

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Here is a passage from one of my favorite economics textbooks: When physicians must be licensed and new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they can be marketed, buyers are spared the cost of evaluating goods... MORE

Linda Gorman on How ObamaCare Treats Middle Class

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Linda Gorman, my former Naval Postgraduate School colleague and author of three excellent articles in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (here, here, and here), has written a post laying out some weird consequences of the ObamaCare law. I would be... MORE

Hayek on Medical Marijuana

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
Yesterday, as co-blogger Art Carden noted, was the late Friedrich Hayek's birthday. I want to honor him by pointing out his insight about medical marijuana. Really? Medical marijuana? But, you're probably saying, Hayek never discussed marijuana, medical or otherwise. That's... MORE

Medicare Kills a Program

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
What do you do when you find a program that actually works, that is, saves the government money and improves health outcomes? If you're the people who run Medicare, the socialized health insurance program for the elderly, you kill it.... MORE

Smuggling in Values

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Co-blogger Bryan Caplan made a good point yesterday about the alleged efficiency/equity tradeoff. He's right to emphasize it. Many economists smuggle in their "equality" value by equivocating between equity as equality and equity as some other value. I pointed this... MORE

Will ObamaCare Reduce the Number of Uninsured People?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In two words, not necessarily. In four words: "We simply don't know." Greg Scandlen walks us through the reasoning here. The whole thing is worth reading. An excerpt: The Congressional Budget Office is more constrained, but even they have upped... MORE

Designing Men vs. Spontaneous Order

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation... MORE

Dr. Henderson in Africa

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
There has been a lot of discussion on this blog lately about why there are so few doctors in America. (If you want to follow the discussion in order, see here for Garett, here for me, and here for Bryan).... MORE

What's driving the high price of doctors: market inequality or government entry restrictions?  My co-bloggers' debate reminds me of a random encounter with some striking evidence: The Digest of Education Statistics' Table 294.If you peruse this table, you'll discover that... MORE

Should Cost/Benefit Analysis Consider Only Benefits?

Cost-benefit Analysis
David Henderson
There's no such thing as a free lunch. Don't worry. I'm not going to produce a new insight that cost/benefit analysis should consider only benefits. But the reason for the title of this post is that a logical conclusion to... MORE

ObamaCare: Two Ominous Signs

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In the last few days, there have been two ominous signs about our future under ObamaCare. Both suggest the term "ObamaCare" is more accurate than the more-often used term "Affordable Care Act," because both suggest that the term "affordable" is... MORE

The ObamaCare-Induced Shift to Part-Time Work

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Then House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in pushing for the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, said, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it." We're finding out what's in it and we're... MORE

Not from The Onion, Affordable Care Act Edition

Economics of Health Care
Garett Jones
In the 1990's and 2000's, as more violent criminals were thrown into prison and, partly for that reason, violent crime rates fell, the media had a wave of stories with titles like this: "Despite falling crime rate, prison populations rise."In... MORE

Henderson on Medicare: Bay Area NBC Affiliate

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Here is a segment on the Bay Area NBC affiliate based, in part, on an interview with me about the Medicare spending in our future. Hat Tip to the reporter, Sam Brock, for doing his homework.... MORE

Update on OTC Contraceptives

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In February, I wrote: Nevertheless, there is a way that the federal government now cuts access to contraceptives in a way that substantially raises the cost. Were the government to get rid of the regulation that does this, women's access... MORE

DeLong on Obamacare

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Categorize this in the "I wish Brad had asked these questions in 2009" file. In a recent post, Brad DeLong sounds like Obamacare critic and health economist John C. Goodman. Here's an excerpt: But Massachusetts has been walking down this... MORE

Coming ObamaCare Challenges

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
John Goodman had an excellent post yesterday discussing the coming challenges in implementing the Affordable Care Act. One of his major points is that the Affordable Care Act makes health insurance less affordable: Adding to the problem is that the... MORE

FDA Breaks Its Own Regulations

Regulation
David Henderson
Most people believe that the FDA needs to ensure that the medicines we Americans consume have been proven to be safe and effective long before we ever get a chance to use them. Yet the Makena story gives us a... MORE

You Should Repeatedly Read Cochrane's "After the ACA"

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Soon after I finished my Ph.D. at Princeton, I started going to academic conferences.  When I met senior professors at these gathering, they were often surprised to discover my pedigree.  Regardless of the subject at hand, I habitually revealed exactly... MORE

Socialized Medicine Can Kill

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
A 29-year-old woman will die without a new drug that the NHS is refusing to provide despite the manufacturer offering it to her for free, it emerged today. Caroline Cassin, 29, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has been offered... MORE

Henderson on John Goodman's Priceless

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
My review of health economist John Goodman's book, Priceless, is now out. I'm generally positive about the book, but I do have some major criticisms. Some positive excerpts: A dominant theme in health care reform is what Goodman calls "the... MORE

Last Night's Debate on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I'm so glad that I don't need to use quotation marks around the word "debate" in the title above. For the days leading up to it, every time I've mentioned it, I've used quotation marks because the typical format is... MORE

Welcome Back, McArdle

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Megan McArdle is back blogging regularly. I happened to come across this one: "America Really is Exceptional." It's very good. Some highlights: I actually don't think that the latter point is true; if you plucked an average American (mean, median,... MORE

Will ACA's cost-cutters outcut private insurers?

Economics of Health Care
Garett Jones
Earlier this month, health experts from the Obama Administration wrote up some advice on the next steps for health reform in the New England Journal of Medicine.  I recommend reading it: Not too technical, about 2500 words, it gives you... MORE

A Free Market in Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Last Saturday, my wife and I got a glimpse of what a free market in health care might look like. We were driving from Monterey to Santa Barbara to stay in a rented house for the week. Along the way,... MORE

Biden Calls for Free Market in Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
At least for women. He didn't address health care for men. In his acceptance speech for the vice-presidential nomination last night, Joe Biden, surprisingly, called for a free market in health care for women. He stated, to much applause: we... MORE

Atul Gawande on Health Care Administration

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, The theory the country is about to test is that chains will make us better and more efficient. The question is how. To most of us who work in health care, throwing a bunch of administrators and accountants... MORE

Popular Resistance to Cost-Effectiveness Research: Two Stories and a Challenge

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Measuring the cost-effectiveness of medical treatment seems unpopular - especially among conservatives.  Why would this be?  I have two stories - one fairly charitable, the other not so charitable.The charitable story.  Many people - even people who strongly favor heavy... MORE

Flat-of-the-curve in Education?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Michael Graham writes, Education reform activist Bill Costello points out that our annual "per-pupil spending in 2006 was 41 percent higher than the OECD average of $7,283, and yet American students still placed in the bottom quarter in math and... MORE

Jonathan Rauch is Uncharitable

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, According to conservatives, the government should not make people buy insurance; it certainly should not provide coverage for them. That would seem to eliminate the two main ways to deal with free riders. One obvious possibility remains. If... MORE

Pooling Risks

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
John Goodman posted yesterday on another post by law professor Jill Horwitz and economics professor Helen Levy. In their post, Professors Horwitz and Levy defend Obamacare from various criticisms. I won't bother repeating John Goodman's arguments. Rather, what I note... MORE

Quotations from Alice Rivlin

Fiscal Policy
David Henderson
My last post was about Sidney Winter's talk at the Naval Postgraduate School on Monday. This is about Alice Rivlin, the co-presenter. The format she and her husband, Sidney Winter, tried was to model a productive discussion between a "liberal,"... MORE

Friday Night Video: The Joy of Capitalism

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
This is from a talk I gave in 2001. Update: In response to Jonathan Bechtel below. For how strangers who are paid to be nice to you look awfully like a friendly community, see my post on New York.... MORE

Timothy Taylor on Health Care Spending in the U.S.

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He concludes, The question of why the U.S. spends more than 50% more per person on health care than the next highest countries (Switzerland and Netherlands), and more than double per person what many other countries spend, may never have... MORE

Economic Analysis of Prop 29

Taxation
David Henderson
Good Analysis by a Government Official Next month, we California voters will get to vote on Proposition 29, an initiative to raise the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack. On Econlog, we are not allowed to advocate passage or defeat... MORE

Economists on Health-Care Licensing

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Milton Friedman triumphs, kind of. Loosening current licensing restrictions on the range of services that nurses, physician assistants, dental hygienists and pharmacists are permitted to perform would help patients on balance, because the additional safety risks would be small compared... MORE

Scandlen on Individual Insurance

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Greg Scandlen has an interesting post today on the market for individual insurance. Many of the comments are informative also. Some highlights: According to a recent report by Milliman, based on new reporting by carriers required by the National Association... MORE

Blinder on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Alan Blinder, in today's Wall Street Journal, has an interesting piece attacking Supreme Court judges who would actually seriously consider finding the recent health care law unconstitutional. It's titled, "Life Liberty, and the Pursuit of Insurance." There are so many... MORE

James Surowiecki on Medical Tourism

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, In addition to exporting patients, we could import doctors. Politically speaking, of course, this all seems improbable, because the medical industry is a powerful lobby and uninterested in competition. But the reality is that, unless we find some... MORE

The 2012 Vote That Really Matters

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
A tempting speculation: The Supreme Court's vote on Obamacare will have larger effects on policy than the American public's vote on the presidency.  My thinking: If Obama wins, there will be divided government, and if Romney wins, he'll be too... MORE

Should Medicare Be Cut?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
One of the things that I thought I had in common with my free-market allies was our views on Medicare. But some postings from some friends on Facebook (and, because it's FB, I will respect their privacy and not name... MORE

Krugman on Supreme Court Reasoning About Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In his column today, "Broccoli and Bad Faith," Paul Krugman goes after the conservative judges on the Supreme Court for their lack of understanding of health insurance and their "self-evidently absurd" claim about coercion. First, the analogy between health insurance... MORE

Videoconferencing and Health Care

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Scott Gottlieb writes, A patient recently asked me why doctors don't spend more time communicating over email or by videoconferencing. There's a simple answer: Medicare hasn't created a billing code for these services. I would love to stand up and... MORE

Moreover, contrary to widely accepted conventional arguments on the subject, free-market sales of bodily organs can actually lower their effective prices. In this article, we focus on the market for transplantable kidneys, but only for purposes of illustration. The points... MORE

The March Issue of Reason Magazine

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
Rarely do I take the time any more to read through the whole of a magazine. But I've been traveling in Asia and I found time to read most of the March issue of Reason. It's superb. Here are just... MORE

Richard Epstein on Charity and Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson

How to Cut the Cost of Contraceptives by Regulating Less

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In his "compromise" with Catholic critics, President Obama has said that various church-affiliated employers don't have to provide a contraception benefit in their insurance plans. However, insurance plans will have to provide such a benefit separately and must not charge... MORE

Obamacare Shortages: Why Aren't We Going Sputnik?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
This is the most pessimistic prediction I've seen about how Obamacare will quickly lead to severe rationing of medical care:The greatest threat to the health-care overhaul might not be the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear challenges to the... MORE

Rena Henderson on the Komen Controversy

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
If you've followed the news on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure controversy lately, you know that it has been getting a lot of flak. The foundation had been sending funds to Planned Parenthood to finance breast-cancer screenings and... MORE

Why Health Care Costs are Hard to Reduce

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle writes, I think the central difference between me, and the people who think that IPAB's reimbursement-rate powers will be a big help in controlling health care costs, is that the latter group tends to think that a lot... MORE

Health Care Costs are Hard to Manage

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
CBO's Doug Elmendorf writes, In an issue brief released today, CBO reviewed the outcomes of 10 major demonstrations--6 in the first category and 4 in the second--that have been evaluated by independent researchers. CBO finds that most programs tested in... MORE

The AI Cure

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Vinod Khosla writes, I was asked about a year ago at a talk about energy what I was doing about the other large social problems, namely health care and education. Surprised, I flippantly responded that the best solution was to... MORE

Back in 2009, before Obamacare became the law of the land, I pointed out its disemployment effects, and criticized Krugman for failing to consider them during a serious recession.  Me:The Krugman we've got is sold on the House health bill. ... MORE

Sins of Omission: What's Wrong With Gruber's Health Care Reform

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Given my interest in health economics and graphic novels, I was initially hopeful about Jonathan Gruber's graphic novel, entitled Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works.  But in all honesty, the book is awful.  Gruber... MORE

The Chess Game of Health Care Regulation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Daeho Kim writes, To identify the impact of PPS on cardiac procedures, I exploit the discontinuity in Medicare eligibility at the age of 65. Utilizing data from before-and-after the PPS [prospective payment system] reform, I find a discontinuous change in... MORE

The Marginal Cost of Perfection

Cost-benefit Analysis
David Henderson
In my Executive MBA class, I use The Economic Way of Thinking by the late Paul Heyne, Peter Boettke, and David Prychitko. In a recent problem set, I used a question from the chapter on externalities. The authors have a... MORE

Some Motives Revealed

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In my chapter on health care in my The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey, I had an extensive discussion of government regulations that drive up the price of insurance and . At the end of that discussion I wrote:... MORE

The Risks of Kidney Donation

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In a recent New York Times op/ed that is creating a buzz on the blogosphere, Alexander Berger tries to persuade people that donating a kidney while you're alive is no big deal. He says that donating a kidney is easy,... MORE

Health Care Dilemmas

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
How Doctors Die, an essay by Ken Murray, has been making the rounds. Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call "futile care" being performed on people. That's when doctors bring the cutting edge of technology to bear on... MORE

Hail IJ: Bone Marrow Sales Are Now Legal

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Back in June Robert McNamara of the Institute for Justice told me about their battle to legalize bone marrow sales.  Just six months later, it looks like they've won.  Despite the text of NOTA (the National Organ Transplant Act), the... MORE

John Goodman on the Health Care Olympics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I refer to the attempt to measure national health care efficiency by comparing outcomes to expenditures as the international health care Olympics. The conventional wisdom is that the U.S. does poorly. John Goodman disagrees. On spending, he writes, the U.S.... MORE

Long-term Care Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jeffrey R. Brown and Amy Finkelstein write, Between 35 and 50 percent of 65 year-olds will use a nursing home at some point in their remaining lives. Pointer from Timothy Taylor. My take on this is that when something has... MORE

The Moral Case for Allowing Kidney Sales

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
This is just out. I like the point Professor Taylor makes near the end about how virtually everyone involved in the transplanting of a kidney from one person to another is paid except the person who gives up a... MORE

TGS and RATM

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
That is, "The Great Stagnation" and "Race Against the Machine." Tyler Cowen writes, I understand how the TGS argument fits into the cyclical story of 2007-2011 (excess confidence and overextension, Minsky moment, AD contraction, AS problems slow down the recovery),... MORE

The Doctor Might See You Now: Here Comes Rationing

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In The Doctor Might See You Now: the Supply Side Effects of Public Health Insurance Expansions (NBER Working Paper No. 17070), Craig Garthwaite finds that after the 1990s implementation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)--a partnership between federal... MORE

Hooper on Personalized Drugs vs. the FDA

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
My sometimes co-author Charley Hooper has an interesting post on how FDA regulation will hobble the shift to personalized drugs. Two key paragraphs: If each drug takes $1 billion to reach the market and 10 million people use it over... MORE

Uwe Reinhardt Nails It

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I posted recently on John Goodman's and Virginia Traweek's post on nurse practitioners. There ensued on his site a lively debate among those who want to allow more room for NPs to practice and those who don't. Uwe Reinhardt, a... MORE

Free the Nurses--and the Patients

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
If a natural disaster hit Oregon, the victims would have fared much better. The state's 8,500 nurse practitioners (NPs) are free to come to the aid of people in need of care, with no legal obstruction. In Oregon, nurses with... MORE

Notes for the Credentialism File

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A New York Times Story: Doctorates are popping up all over the health professions, and the result is a quiet battle over not only the title "doctor," but also the money, power and prestige that often comes with it. ...For... MORE

From the Vault: My Response to Victor Fuchs

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Stanford University health economist Victor Fuchs wrote an op/ed in the Wall Street Journal on January 26, 1996, titled "The Tofu Triangle." Here is my letter in response. The Journal published it on February 22, 1996, titling it "Equal Justice."... MORE

Andrew Biggs on Means Testing

Social Security
David Henderson
While Heritage cites the current taxation of Social Security benefits and progressive Medicare parts B and D premiums in defense of its reforms, the effects of its proposed means tests would be more than an order of magnitude larger. Even... MORE

Ron Paul and Austin Frakt Agree

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Background: There's been a lot of discussion on the blogosphere about Ron Paul's answer to a question about health care from Wolf Blitzer: was it a softball, how should Ron Paul have answered, etc. (For a post that links to... MORE

Medical Skepticism: Children's Classics Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The original Pinnochio's take on medicine is amusingly Hansonian: One after another the doctors came, a Crow, and Owl, and a Talking Cricket. "I should like to know, signori," said the Fairy, turning to the three doctors gathered about Pinocchio's... MORE

Poor Have Higher Time Values than We Thought

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
What I call health policy orthodoxy is committed to two propositions: (1) The really important health issue for poor people is access to care and (2) to insure [sic] access, waiting for care is always better that paying for care.... MORE

Health Insurance, Fairness Norms, and Unemployment

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Nominal wages rarely fall - even when there's high unemployment.  Part of the reason is regulation, of course.  But even under laissez-faire, employers have to cope with human psychology.  Almost all workers think that nominal wages cuts are unfair.  And... MORE

Price Controls Cause Doctor Shortage in Canada

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
So I used the Health Care Options Directory on the same government website.This allows you to plug in your postal code and find all family doctors listed within a certain radius. It is a particularly soul-destroying experience. The opening page... MORE

Transforming Education and Health Care

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Marc Andreessen gives his view of the world. It includes, Health care and education, in my view, are next up for fundamental software-based transformation. My venture capital firm is backing aggressive start-ups in both of these gigantic and critical industries.... MORE

NCH Podcast

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Paul Howard and I discuss the New Commanding Heights. That is, education and health care are taking over a larger share of the economy, and this is an important phenomenon for political economy.... MORE

Thoughts on the New Commanding Heights

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
1. From Paul Howard. Government policy both encourages consumer spending in health and education and protects providers in those industries through licensing requirements that reduce competition from lower-cost or higher-quality providers (charter schools, retail clinics, etc.). 2. From John Goodman.... MORE

The Age of Government Dependency

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor writes, moving back the retirement age could have a large effect in addressing the financial problems of Social Security, but would have a much smaller effect in helping Medicare. Read the whole thing. The reason that raising the... MORE

Administrative Costs of Medicare

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John Goodman and Thomas Saving write, raw numbers show that, using Medicare's own accounting, its administrative expenses per enrollee are higher than private insurance. They are lower only when expressed as a percentage - but that may be because the... MORE

Hooper and Henderson on Out-of-Control FDA

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Then there's the issue of off-label promotion. A drug's "label" is the drug's FDA-approved prescribing information--those complicated package inserts that we've all seen. Any approved use is on-label, while any use not listed on the insert is considered off-label, even... MORE

Structural Employment Policy

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Nick Schulz and I offer ideas, focused on the New Commanding Heights. imagine if state governments experimented by setting up healthcare enterprise zones. These would be areas where entrepreneurs could set up healthcare delivery systems without any rules concerning what... MORE

Fogel on the Two-Tier Health Care System

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Robert Fogel writes, Health care isn't a homogeneous good, all of which is essential. There are large luxury components that may appeal to some but that aren't necessary for sound basic care. It is, of course, necessary to provide medical... MORE

Larry Summers on the New Commanding Heights

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He says, Look, the most rapidly growing sector of jobs over the last decade, and in the forecasts for the next decade, is health care, and education is in the top five. So we need to embrace that. We need... MORE

New Commanding Heights Watch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Christopher J. Conover writes, Between 1966 and 2007, the entire increase in the size of government relative to the economy resulted from growth in tax-financed health spending. If you have not read it already, you might want to look at... MORE

Jonathan Gruber's Analysis of "ObamaCare"

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Last month, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber published an NBER Working Paper, "The Impacts of the Affordable Care Act: How Reasonable are the Projections?" WP No. 17168. Gruber points out in a footnote that he was a paid advisor to Governor... MORE

Together with Michele Bachmann

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
You will find me with her in the latest dead-tree issue of National Review. The cover story is on her surge in the Republican race for President. The author raises questions about her ability to execute a successful national campaign.... MORE

John Goodman on Justice

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
A few days ago, I posted on a John Goodman post in which he asserted that he knows of no theory of justice that would imply that the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, is a good idea. There followed a... MORE

Schumer's Nonsensical Solution for Pharmacy Robberies

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
New York. Associated Press. June 26 In the wake of last week's deadly shooting at a Long Island pharmacy, Sen. Charles Schumer says the federal government must work harder to fight prescription drug abuse. Schumer said Sunday that the abuse... MORE

Posner's Great Mystery

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Posnerian quote of the day:Third-party payment is a pervasive feature of American medicine. Why anyone should want health insurance other than "major medical"--that is, insurance against catastrophic medical bills--is a great mystery, as is the fact that Medicare subsidizes routine... MORE

John Goodman Hits a Home Run

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
On his health policy blog this morning, John Goodman asks whether there's a moral case for the Affordable Care Act. The whole thing is worth reading. Some excerpts: Search the world's ethical codes and you will have a hard time... MORE

Cannon's Law

Regulation
Arnold Kling
This story got picked up by several outlets. Soon, "mystery shoppers" may come to medicine. And doctors are outraged. The Department of Health and Human Services proposes using them to figure out why so many new patients are having problems... MORE

Medicare: Almost Everybody Loses

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
John Goodman's health policy blog this morning summarizes the results of a study done for the National Center for Policy Analysis by economists Courtney Collins and Andrew J. Rettenmaier. Goodman's table summarizes the most important points in the longer Collins/Rettenmaier... MORE

Orszag on Inequality in Life Expectancy

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Few would deny that a few additional years of life would be more precious to most Americans than the extra money they might receive from government transfers. If inequality in things that matter is important, there is a basic inequality... MORE

Megan McArdle's Best Post Ever

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
If we measure blog posts by the importance of the issue they address and the cogency of the argument, Megan McArdle's post yesterday on the waning reservoir of antibiotics was her best ever. Rather than repeat her argument, I recommend... MORE

FDA Goes India

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Alex Tabarrok has an important post this morning on the Food and Drug Administration's regulations that have helped to cause shortages of drugs. One of the contributors is the tamely named "Good Manufacturing Practices" regulations that the FDA is enforcing.... MORE

Mark Bils on Health Care Prices

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this interview, he says, If you had a certain condition and you had $10,000 to get treated at today's health prices, or $10,000 to get treated at 1960s prices with 1960s technology, I don't think it's so obvious that... MORE

Gorman on Attendant Services Under Medicaid

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Recipients of agency care, that is, care provided by certified agencies, have little control over who enters their homes, when they will come, what they will do, and how they will do it. Theft is a constant problem. In addition,... MORE

Great Moments in Free Choice

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Kaytal [acting solicitor general of the United States] responded by noting that the there's a provision in the health care law that allows people to avoid the mandate. "If we're going to play that game, I think that game can... MORE

Worth Reading

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Michael Lind on the abundance of fossil fuels. Jason Collins on Oded Galor's theory of population, genetics, and economic growth. More on Galor from Tyler Cowen. Megan McArdle on the failure of Obamacare to enlist the uninsured with pre-existing conditions.... MORE

Medicare, Food Stamps, and Rationing

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Bryan raises a good question: Is it "government rationing of food" if you can't buy cigarettes with food stamps? The answer is no. What makes health care different is the current system of price controls imposed by, wait for it,... MORE

Law, Legislation, and Medicare

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Bryan points to a 9-person forum on reforms to cut Medicare spending, which includes many good suggestions. He asks, Is it "government rationing of food" if you can't buy cigarettes with food stamps? The Hayekian answer is "yes," if people... MORE

Medicare, Rationing, Food Stamps, and Cigarettes

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Robin wasn't available for lunch today because he had a deadline.  If this is what he was working on, my loss was the world's gain.  From the NYT's Room for Debate:The British control costs in part by having the will... MORE

Administrative costs in Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
There is a symposium on health care spending in the latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives. David M. Cutler and Dan P. Ly write, In the United States, there are 1.5 administrative personnel per hospital bed, compared to... MORE

Cancer Screening Costs and Benefits

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
According to Robin Hanson, the latter are statistically small. While cancer screening does consistently lead to more cancer detection and more cancer treatment, it consistently doesn't lead to lower mortality. This is based on studies of breast cancer, colon cancer,... MORE

It is Health Care Consumption

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post editorializes, There is no silver bullet to controlling health-care costs Until somebody listens, I will keep shouting that it is not health care "costs" that are out of control. It is the utilization of medical services. To... MORE

All the Medical Care that Money Could Buy

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I believe we could spend our entire national income on health care. Not by frittering money away, but by spending it on goods and services that even in small ways could improve the odds of better health. (Examples below.) I... MORE

Nyman's Non Sequitur on Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Co-blogger Arnold Kling posted last week on health economist John Nyman's 2004 article, "Is 'Moral Hazard' Inefficient? The Policy Implications of a New Theory," Health Affairs, 23, No. 5: 194-199. I won't repeat Nyman's argument, which is brief. Instead, I... MORE

The Feds' Attack on Forest Laboratories

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
At first, the FDA "grandfathered" older drugs. But in 1997, the FDA decided that some older drugs were actually "new drugs." Therefore, Forest needed to navigate the FDA's expensive and difficult new drug approval process. Forest didn't act quickly enough... MORE

Starve-the-Beast Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jed Graham writes, Much has been written about Ryan's plan to have the vouchers only keep pace with inflation, which is generally well below health care inflation. But almost nothing has been said about how the Democrats' own health care... MORE

The Anti-Hanson on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John A. Nyman has a theory under which it is efficient to stimulate health care spending with health insurance. When the care that was deemed to be welfare-decreasing is reclassified as welfare-increasing, health insurance becomes much more valuable to consumers... MORE

Where is My Free Lunch?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma writes, It seems to me that there is far too much discussion of cutting services, and not enough about how to control costs without affecting services (e.g., using the government's purchasing power to reduce the amount the government... MORE

Quibbling with Mankiw

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this talk, Greg Mankiw says a number of wise things. For instance, he says that in health care, the main issue is whether spending restraint is going to be conducted top-down from government or bottom-up from individual choice. But... MORE

School Nurses and Econ 101

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Most people flip out when economists suggest relaxing government regulation of medical quality.  How dare we point out the trade-offs between price, quality, and access?  But Robin notes an amazing example we've all known about since kindergarten: the school nurse.Most... MORE

NCH Watch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Mark Whitehouse of the WSJ blog writes, Annual public and private health-care spending in the U.S. stands at $7,538 per person, 2.41 times the OECD average and 51% more than the second-biggest spender, Norway. Meanwhile, average U.S. life expectancy is... MORE

Why Not Health Care Austerity?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Like Arnold, I just read Kotlikoff's plan to reform American health care.  I realize that my first-best proposal - separation of health and state - has almost zero political support.  But I'd still like to know why Kotlikoff ignores a... MORE

If Economists Designed Health Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
They would come up with something like this. 1. All Americans receive a voucher each year to purchase a standard plan from the private-plan provider of their choice. 2. Vouchers are individually risk-adjusted; those with higher expected healthcare costs, based... MORE

Morality and Medicare

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
M.S. writes (for the Economist blog), Mr Ryan's plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance. The Medicare system we've had in place for the past 45 years promises that once you reach 65, you will... MORE

Would You Give Up Your Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A question from lunch: If you could give up your health insurance in exchange for the cash required to pay for it, would you do so?  Sure, the cash would be taxed.  But if you buy the empirical evidence on... MORE

Notes on Kauffman Bloggers Forum

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I watched live almost all of each morning presentation today. Some highlights: 1. Ben Wildavsky's point that when talent moves from country to country and back, it's not a brain drain. He had another good expression that I forgot to... MORE

John Goodman on Medicaid

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Economics teaches that people reveal their preferences through their actions. If people act as though they are indifferent between being uninsured and being on Medicaid, we may infer they are equally well off in both states of the world from... MORE

The Love Potion of Socialized Medicine

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
During my flight to Italy, I read Barbara Demick's outstanding Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea cover to cover.  Even if you've studied Communism for decades, you'll be appalled: In the 90s, North Korea basically moved from total... MORE

The Political Economy of Spending Caps

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John Goodman writes, On paper, ObamaCare cut Medicare's unfunded liability in half the minute Barack Obama signed the health reform bill. (A reduction of more than $53 trillion -- looking indefinitely into the future!) Going forward, Medicare will grow no... MORE

Health Care Prior to Stagnation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
An article by D. Eric Schansberg on the topic of "Envisioning a Free Market in Health Care" has an interesting table showing for various time periods the rate of "excess cost growth" in health care, meaning the differential between the... MORE

Central Planning in Health Care

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
President Obama has repeatedly given us his vision of how to lower the cost of health care and raise its quality: Find out what works; then get everyone else to copy it. Toward that end, the administration is making millions... MORE

Jack Calfee, RIP

Regulation
David Henderson
I hadn't known until reading Arnold's post this morning and then the Wall Street Journal article that he referenced that Jack Calfee, a health economist at AEI, had died. I didn't know Jack well--we talked on the phone only about... MORE

Some Health Care Tidbits

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
1. The late John Calfee has an op-ed in today's WSJ that emphasizes the way that the Massachusetts health care reform raised costs. Meanwhile, economists John Cogan, Glenn Hubbard and Daniel Kessler reported in the Forum for Health Economics &... MORE

Rescued from the Comments

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
On this post, Shangwen wrote, So far in this project, I've found that for a particular disorder, clinicians employing a rigorous and objective diagnostic tool can cure a patient for about $4,000. Left to their own devices, hunches, and bias,... MORE

Health Care Story

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
This is one of my very few posts in which I'm not trying--or, at least, not trying hard--to draw a moral or a lesson or illustrate an economic principle. I just found it fascinating. If I were trying to extract... MORE

Why Don't Big Firms Fire the Sick?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
My friend in the insurance industry once let me in on a little secret: De facto, though not de jure, virtually every big firm is also a health insurance company with an exclusive clientele: Its own labor force.  Once a... MORE

John Goodman on Magnitude of Health Problem

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
We now know how many people have the problem most often cited as the reason for last years' health overhaul legislation. Answer: 8,000 No, that's not a misprint. Out of 310 million Americans, only 8,000 people have the problem given... MORE

Health Care: Costs, Spending, and Choices

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Social Security is widely believed to protect its recipients from inflation because benefits are indexed to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). However, the CPI-W may not accurately reflect the experience of retirees for... MORE

Paragraphs to Ponder

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From the New York Times: Because payroll taxes and firing costs are still so high, businesses across Southern Europe are loath to hire new workers on a full-time basis, so young people increasingly are offered unpaid or low-paying internships, traineeships... MORE

Unintended Consequences of Mandated Mental Health Parity

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Members of the Screen Actors Guild recently read in their health plan's newsletter that, beginning in January, almost 12,000 of its participants will lose access to treatment for mental-health and substance-abuse issues. The guild's health plan represents one of a... MORE

It's Not the prices, after all?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Uwe Reinhardt's latest: The difference between the growth in Medicare fees and the growth in Medicare spending is, of course, the growth in the volume of services sold, so to speak, to Medicare. The chart that accompanies his post shows... MORE

Medicare and the Socialist Calculation Problem, Continued

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Arnold Kling
The latest in a series of posts by Uwe Reinhardt. Surely there is something absurd when a nation pays a primary care physician poorly relative to other specialists and then wrings its hands over a shortage of primary care physicians.... MORE

If You (Insurers) Pay, They (Docs) Will Charge

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
John Goodman has an excellent post today on "Value Purchasing" in which he deals with the issue of "dumb payment systems." In the comments, his health economist colleague, Devon Herrick, points to a striking divergence. Herrick looked at rates of... MORE

U.S. Health Care Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John Goodman is indispensable on the topic of health care economics. In this instance, he points to a study of a hospital that delivers babies of at-risk mothers with good results at low cost. So why not replicate Parkland's baby... MORE

Reagan's Medicare Bill

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
A health care bill to expand Medicare and increase taxes to pay for it passes both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate by wide margins and is signed by the President. Most people who are paying attention think... MORE

Price Controls and Black Markets in Canadian Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
One high-ranking physician who works with doctors at several Montreal hospitals told The Gazette that obstetricians often accept cash offered by expectant parents to ensure their doctor attends the delivery, rather than having to depend on whichever doctor is on... MORE

Voucherization of Medicare

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports, President Barack Obama's deficit commission on Wednesday debated a dramatic plan to gradually turn Medicare from a system in which the government pays most beneficiaries' medical bills into a program in which seniors would purchase health... MORE

Health Care and Socialist Calculation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Uwe E. Reinhardt writes, Soviet label notwithstanding, the relative fee structure underlying the Medicare fee schedules imposed in 1992 -- the so-called "resource-based relative value scale" -- has by now been widely adopted by many private health insurers in the... MORE

The Socialist Calculation Debate, 2010 Edition

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
Joseph Antos writes, The problem for a government price controller is that he can never know when the price structure is "right." He can know when physicians are unhappy with their prices because they will complain, but that does not... MORE

A Snark on Health Care Cost Reduction

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
David Leonhardt writes, The debate over the health law showed that there is deep political opposition to Medicare cuts -- even if such cuts are the single most important step toward bringing down the country's long-term deficit. In theory, many... MORE

Health Care Costs and Wages

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John Goodman writes, In four years' time, the minimum cost of labor will be a $7.25 cash minimum wage and a $5.89 health minimum wage (family), for a total of $13.14 an hour or about $27,331 a year. (I think... MORE

MIT Economists in the New York Times

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
1. Twenty years ago, Peter Diamond wrote, suppose individuals could be grouped independent of their health needs and work status. What if government simply assigned people to groups, ranging in size from 10,000 to 100,000, based solely on where they... MORE

Me on Obamacare

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I recorded a segment of the John Batchelor show, a syndicated radio show, on Friday, October 8. It played on Thursday, October 14. It's here. When you click on the link, go to about the 28:00 point and the interview... MORE

My Speech in Dallas

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I'll be speaking tomorrow at a conference at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. My topic: Obamacare: The Nightmare in Our Future. I normally announce these things about a week in advance, but I've been on the road a lot and... MORE

Bill Gates on Education and Philanthropy

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I was impressed by the latest "60 Minutes" report on Bill and Melinda Gates and many of their choices about what to spend their fortunes on. One main choice is their large spending on producing a vaccine against malaria. Here's... MORE

Krugman, Tennessee Fires, and Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
After I posted Tuesday about the Tennessee fire, I saw that Paul Krugman had posted about it also. About the Tennessee fire department that refused to put out a fire for someone who had refused to pay $75 a year... MORE

Morning Recommendations

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
Russ Roberts interviews Bryan Caplan on the case for open borders. The challenge with making that case is that anything other than xenophobia is counterintuitive. Thorfinn suggests that if the U.S. overspends on health care, it also overspends on education.... MORE

Goodbye Mini-meds

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
And so it begins. Today, one part of Obama's new health care law kicked in. It's a part that, if enforced literally, is likely to eliminate so-called "mini-med" insurance. As I wrote: But the reason the mini-meds are so affordable... MORE

Macroeconomic Costs of Credentialism

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
My latest essay: Entrepreneurs in healthcare and education face unusually strong barriers to entry. Both industries are credentials cartels. Licensing and accreditation are key requirements to compete in those fields, and incumbents are in control of the process. In addition,... MORE

Unintended, but Totally Predictable, Consequences

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Even though this action was a totally predictable response to the incentives we set up, it's unwarranted and unnecessary. Last April, I posted on how the health care law passed by Congress would likely cause some insurance companies to drop... MORE

The Medicare Fraud in Our Future

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
In tonight's 60 Minutes episode, the lead item was on the huge amount of Medicare fraud that takes place. Scam artists get lists of patients, lists of expensive items they can bill to Medicare, and a bank account. Then they... MORE

Should I Take to Drink? The Latest Evidence

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The last time I asked "Should I take to drink?," the best evidence seemed to say "Don't bother."  Now Hanson and Crampton say the totality of the evidence is indeed in favor of moderate drinking, confounds notwithstanding.  Hmm.... MORE

Mandatory Bad Customer Service

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Uwe E. Reinhart writes, The recently passed Affordable Care Act requires heath insurance issuers to use at least some minimum fraction of revenue from the premiums it receives on medical services. While the idea might sound straightforward, this fraction, known... MORE

American Health Care Policy Issues

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
That is the title of this paper, in which I trace the history, politics, and economics of our health care system The bottom line: The health care reforms that were debated in 2009 and 2010 did not address the fundamental... MORE

Taking Dean Baker Seriously

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
My book review of Dean Baker's short book, Taking Economics Seriously, is just out in Policy Review. Although I liked a fair amount of the book--see my review--Dean restricted himself with his implication that unless a large number of people... MORE

Tyler Cowen on the Paul Ryan Plan

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, We all know that health care spending has to be restrained in some manner. There are (at least) two approaches: 1. Have the federal government take a more active role in shutting down or limiting some reimbursements, based... MORE

The Health Insurance Hurdle

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen asks what is wrong with the labor market. He points to David Leonhardt, who writes, the downturn has still exacted a much harsher toll on the less educated. The unemployment rate for college graduates is still just 4.5... MORE

Did Health Care Reform Cure Medicare?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Medicare Trustees issued a report that shows a much lower path for Medicare spending. Mark Thoma has links to two people, including Paul Krugman, who triumphantly say that this shows that health care reform has solved the long-term problems... MORE

The Neo-neoliberals?

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
CNN Money reports, "I don't want to see revenue as a percentage of GDP be much higher than 21%," Bowles said. "At the same time we have to work to make the tough choices to bring spending down to the... MORE

What Health Insurance Reform Means

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Boston Globe reports, The number of people who appear to be gaming the state's health insurance system by purchasing coverage only when they are sick quadrupled from 2006 to 2008, according to a long-awaited report released yesterday from the... MORE

Health Pricing Transparency in Imperial Germany

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Last November, Tyler Cowen enumerated fourteen things to do instead of Obamacare.  Number six:Make an all-out attempt, comparable to the moon landing effort if need be, to introduce price transparency for medical services.  This can be done.This Singaporean recommendation stuck... MORE

It's Official: You Won't be Able to Keep Your Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
On John Goodman's Health Policy Blog this morning, he cites the federal government's estimate of the percent of employers whose health insurance policies for their employees will not be grandfathered in under the new regulations. His table is quite striking.... MORE

Adolescence Without a Curfew

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Michael Barone writes, [A recent ballyhooed study of the phenomenon of extended adolescence] got me thinking about the much ballyhooed provision of the Obamacare bill that allows parents to include "children" up to age 26 in their family health insurance... MORE

A Beautiful Video

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Watch this short video of an 8-month-old baby who is suddenly able to hear. It's heart-warming. This doesn't quite compare, but it reminds me of my father's reaction when, in his mid-50s, he had surgery on his ear. He had... MORE

Good Sentences

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
from John Goodman. In general, a bureaucratic system is one in which normal market forces have been systematically suppressed. In such an environment, there tends to be a sea of (relative) mediocrity, sometimes punctuated by little islands of excellence. Further,... MORE

Quibble with Crook on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I was puzzled when Clive Crook wrote: "Public spending is lower in the US, but not vastly lower once you remember to add state and local spending to federal outlays; the US healthcare anomaly accounts for a lot of the... MORE

The Obvious Solution on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Why didn't I think of this? Jim Yong Kim and James N. Weinstein write, What will lead to improvements is a multidisciplinary approach that brings the best minds to focus on the problem. Experts in management, systems thinking and engineering,... MORE

John Goodman's Prediction Coming True

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill's critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to... MORE

Health Insurance, Kids, and Cut-Rate Coverage

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Many employer health plans cover kids for zero or near-zero marginal cost.  This anomaly came up years ago on my now-defunct Armchair Economists' Listserv, and no one had a really good explanation.  Now, as you might have heard, Obamacare has... MORE

Robin Hanson is Incurable

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From the Boston Globe. the simplest and least ethically hazardous way to capitalize on the placebo effect is to acknowledge that medicine isn't just a set of approved treatments--it's also a ritual, with symbolism and meaning that are key to... MORE

Bizarre Tales from the Delivery Room

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've cross-examined doctors before, but never like this!  Offsetting Behavior's Eric Crampton remained enough of an economist to argue with the anaesthesiologist while awaiting the delivery of his second child:There was some risk that Sue might wind up needing a... MORE

My Letter to Wall Street Journal

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
On Monday, I sent a letter to the Wall Street Journal about its editorial, "The Separation of Health and State." Here it is: The title of your editorial, "The Separation of Health and State" (April 6), was better than the... MORE

John Goodman on Equality in Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
John Goodman did a nice job yesterday in his blog on health care. Here is an excerpt: Suppose the Cleveland Clinic announced an opening for surgery tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. (prepping begins at 6:00 a.m.). I have a better... MORE

Balan-Caplan Debate Resources

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The resource page for the Balan-Caplan Debate is now up, including our opening statements, my Powerpoint slides, and complete video.  Enjoy.... MORE

Turley on Constitutionality of Obamacare

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
One of my favorite legal scholars, Jonathan Turley, has weighed in on the constitutionality of the Obama health insurance scheme. Here's a key paragraph: With this legislation, Congress has effectively defined an uninsured 18-year-old man in Richmond as an interstate... MORE

Congress Messes Up

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
One of the reasons to have hearings on legislation is so people who comb through it can point out hidden traps, ambiguous language, unintended consequences, etc. But large parts of the Senate bill on health care that went into law... MORE

Greg Mankiw on Fiscal Policy

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
He writes, One of the classic hypothetical questions economists ask when referring to healthcare costs is, "Would you rather go back to 1950s medical care and 1950s prices?" If that option were offered at your place of work, my guess... MORE

Balan and the Deserving Poor

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In last week's debate, David Balan surprisingly endorsed the old-fashioned view that only the "deserving" poor are entitled to taxpayer assistance.  As the debate proceeded, however, he admitted that in the real world, a lot of undeserving poor would receive... MORE

Health Care Costs and Bankruptcy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I wrote on the famous study when it first came out. You should read that article. I have to say that I cannot think of any other study that has had such a high ratio of political impact to substantive... MORE

My Alternate Opening Statement

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
After I wrote my opening statement for my debate with David Balan, I was suddenly tempted to start over.  My thinking: Since the resolution is, "Significant governmental involvement in health care is both economically sensible and morally just," maybe I... MORE

Gary Becker Interview

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In today's Wall Street Journal, Hoover's Peter Robinson reports on an interview with Gary Becker. Becker is not only one of the world's finest economist, but also one of nicest people I've ever gotten to know. His warmth and benevolence... MORE

What Do We Owe the Deserving Sick?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The main recurring question in the comments on the Separation of Health and State Debate: What do we owe the deserving sick?Garett Harmon writes:Specifically, I feel like you sort of sidestepped the issue of what to do about people that... MORE

Health Care: Finally Some Good News

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Ben Stein writes: But among the glorying, there was little or no mention of my former boss, Richard M. Nixon, and this was a monstrous wrong, one of an innumerable number of wrongs directed at Mr. Nixon. The flat truth... MORE

Debate Reactions?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I had a blast at the Separation of Health and State Debate.  If you didn't attend, video will be posted in the near future.  If you did attend, I'd like to hear your reactions - and the best questions that... MORE

Incentives vs. Intentions

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
As Bryan points out, the incentives in the new health care legislation should discourage people from getting health insurance and discourage employers from providing health insurance. The intent of the legislation is to reduce the number of people who are... MORE

How Many Employers Will Stop Providing Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Why is employer-provided health insurance so prevalent?  Economists usually point to the tax code.  Cash is taxed; health benefits aren't.  One interesting side effect of Obamacare is that it's going to put the standard view to the test.How so?  If... MORE

My Opening Statement

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Here's my opening statement for today's Separation of Health and State Debate.  Hope to see you there! Why We Should Separate Health and State Government already plays such a large role in health care that it may be hard to... MORE

David Balan's Opening Statement

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
David Balan asked me to post his opening statement for tomorrow's Separation of Health and State Debate.  Enjoy!  I'll post mine at midnight tonight. Thanks to Bryan for agreeing to this debate, and for letting me post my opening statement... MORE

Obama's and Kucinich's Conversation

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I think Bryan has done an admirable job of explaining how the immediate ban on pricing for pre-existing conditions will cause major adverse selection and will break down health insurance as insurance. Arnold says that Tyler Cowen believes the Republicans... MORE

Explaining our new Health Care System

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
1. The intent was to leave Medicare and employer-provided health care largely intact. The main effects are supposed to be on the health insurance market for individuals. 2. A major goal is to enable people with pre-existing conditions who fall... MORE

Obamacare: What the Future Holds

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The "Affordable Health Care for America" timeline that Arnold shared is... interesting.  Assuming that its seven pages accurately summarize the multi-kilopage bill (a big if), four measures stand out.1. It provides "immediate access to insurance for uninsured individuals with a... MORE

How the Health Care Legislation Will Affect Me

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My joke has been that what bothers me the most about the fact that health care legislation passed is that now when I give talks on health care I will be expected to be familiar with what is in the... MORE

Health Insurance: What Krugman Didn't Say

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Stop Us Before We Cheat Again In his pitch for the Obama health care restructuring, Paul Krugman quotes a Reuters story about a young man who was denied benefits for a pre-existing condition even though he didn't have such a... MORE

Obamacare Market

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Can anyone explain what happened in the Obamacare betting market over the past 24 hours?  Why did it fall from near 70, close at 35.1, then rebound to 65.1?... MORE

Tyler Cowen on the Future of Health Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He sees a future of managed care, funded or subsidized by vouchers. He elaborates here. Few people would think that a ne'er do well brother would be justified into taking $50,000 from you to prolong his life (with p =... MORE

Confusing Health Care and Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
President Obama Walks Into His Own Trap And the insurance companies continue to ration health care based on who's sick and who's healthy; on who can pay and who can't pay. The above is from President Obama's speech in Pennsylvania... MORE

We Smell a Rat

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Which group should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration care about more: humans or rats? That's not a trick question. The FDA's recent decision to reject the drug Horizant suggests that, at least in this case, it cares more about... MORE

Separation of Health and State Debate

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
David Balan and I are going to debate "the Separation of Health and State" before the GMU Econ Society.  The time: Wednesday, March 24, at 5 PM.  The place: Fairfax campus of GMU, Enterprise 80.  The resolution:Significant governmental involvement in... MORE

Keynesians vs. Rogoffians

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A letter in the London Times, signed by Ken Rogoff, among others: in order to be credible, the government's goal should be to eliminate the structural current budget deficit over the course of a parliament, and there is a compelling... MORE

More on Callahan

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Arnold called for a real health care debate between him and Daniel Callahan and quoted from his book. Actually, some of that debate has already happened in my review of Callahan's book. Here's what I wrote on one of the... MORE

The Real Health Care Debate

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
If you ever want to see a real debate on health care policy, schedule an event featuring Daniel Callahan and me. Callahan is very anti-market, but he and I start from a baseline level of agreement about what the health... MORE

Boudreaux's Bet

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Don Boudreaux has proposed a clever bet on health care spending with Peter Orszag and Nancy-Ann DeParle:If the House passes a health-reform bill this year and the Senate adopts that bill through reconciliation, pick any year in the... MORE

From the Vault: My 1983 Piece on Market for Kidneys

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I came across this memorandum I wrote while I was the senior economist for health policy with the Council of Economic Advisers. MEMORANDUM COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS December 29, 1983 TO: Bill Poole Geoff Carliner FROM: David Henderson SUBJECT: More... MORE

John Goodman on ObamaCare

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
John Goodman writes: The two most serious defects of ObamaCare were never discussed at the Health Care Summit or in the President's speech this afternoon. I blame the Republicans for that. As a result, things have gotten worse for the... MORE

The Road to Health Care Serfdom

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
If Massachusetts is any indication, we are on it if we adopt reforms similar to theirs. Last month, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick landed a neutron bomb, proposing hard price controls across almost all Massachusetts health care... average Massachusetts insurance premiums... MORE

Oddly

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Tyler:Oddly, even from intellectuals, you rarely hear what is one of the strongest arguments for the bill, namely that personal genome sequencing might mean -- how many years from now? -- that many more people have pre-existing conditions than we... MORE

Health Care Summit Post-Mortem

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I thought that President Obama did well to convey a willingness to negotiate. If I were the Republicans, I would move off the "scrap the bill" talking point and instead go with something like this. We have some areas where... MORE

Grading the Health Care Summit

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I sat through the first 2-1/2 hours, and here are my grades. IssueDemocratsRepublicansCostsD+F+Insurance ReformFDDeficitF-F On costs, everyone came out four-square against waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare. I don't give points for that. If they were serious, they could pass... MORE

Health Care Summit "Mid-Mortem"

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I've been watching the health care summit on C-SPAN and I followed the live blogging on Cato's site done by Arnold Kling and others. I could comment on many things but I'll choose three: 1. Obama, at about the 12:48... MORE

Health Care Summit Pre-Mortem

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
By the way, Cato will be having a live blog (link now fixed) of the health care summit, and I am invited to participate in the live blogging. My views on health care have not really changed since I wrote... MORE

CEA on "Reforming Health Care"

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
The chapter, "Reforming Health Care," in the Economic Report of the President February 2010, is chock full of interesting facts and arguments. There are strengths and weaknesses. What this chapter shares with the other 9 chapters is that it actually... MORE

Top-Down Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From the White House. One key improvement, for example, is eliminating the Nebraska FMAP provision and providing significant additional Federal financing to all States for the expansion of Medicaid. For America's seniors, the proposal completely closes the Medicare prescription drug... MORE

Some Health Reform Ideas

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From Nick Schulz and me. Not sure why this showed up here. I thought we submitted it somewhere else. Anyway, we say that a better idea would be to move toward a health-care safety net. This should have two components:... MORE

Raise the Age

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Whenever I've talked to college audiences over the last 10 years, I've told them that the biggest domestic political issue for the whole rest of their adult lives is likely to be spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. I... MORE

The Health Cost Narrative is Incomplete

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Stare at the following table, which gives population projections for the elderly in the United States, in millions. Age Group20072020203065-7419.332.338.875 +18.622.533.3 Source: Census Bureau International Population Data Base. Over the next twenty years, we are going to double the number... MORE

Bipartisan Health Care Reform: My Bottom Line

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
If I were a Republican, I would use any health care summit to set the following conditions for agreeing to support a bipartisan health plan. 1. All Medicare savings must be used to shore up Medicare. None of those savings... MORE

Adverse Selection on Purpose

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In a post a few weeks ago, I stated that I had coined a term in 1994 to describe the effects of a ban on pre-existing conditions clauses in health insurance: adverse selection by law. This weekend, I was going... MORE

The Inevitability of Medicare Vouchers

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen ruminates over Medicare vouchers. He also links to ruminations by Ross Douthat. In my view, the question is not whether you like vouchers are not. Vouchers are inevitable, given the alternatives. Alternative 1 is to keep what we... MORE

Two Interesting Health Care Papers

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
1. Leemore Dafny, Katherine Ho and Mauricio Varela write, We estimate that employees would be willing to forego 10 to 40 percent or more of their employer subsidies for the right to apply those subsidies to the plan of their... MORE

Krugman is Good Again

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Krugman's latest op-ed brings back fond memories of the thinker he used to be.  As David Henderson points out, Krugman plainly admits that insurance regulation makes the adverse selection problem worse: Suppose, for example, that Congress took the advice of... MORE

Mandel on FP2P

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Michael Mandel writes, It's good to see a book which focuses on this topic, whether the authors call it innovation economics or Economics 2.0 or something else. We need more of this kind of thinking. My guess is that Michael... MORE

Adverse Selection by Law

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Finally, Krugman admits the problem with a ban on pre-existing conditions clauses in health insurance. From Paul Krugman's column today: Suppose, for example, that Congress took the advice of those who want to ban insurance discrimination on the basis of... MORE

Here's what Megan McArdle advocated today: eliminate the tax-deductibiity of health insurance benefits for people making more than $150K a year in household income, $100K for singles. So now imagine that you're a married person with a family and you're... MORE

Go Quietly, Old People

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
My review of bio-ethicist Daniel Callahan's new book, Taming the Beloved Beast: How Medical Technology Costs Are Destroying Our Health Care System, was posted on-line yesterday. In it, Callahan advocates rationing health care to the elderly, not allowing them to... MORE

Some Health Care Reform Discussion

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Cato's Michael Cannon warns, Over smaller ranges of earned income, the legislation would impose effective marginal tax rates that exceed 100 percent. Families of four would see effective marginal tax rates as high as 174 percent under the Senate bill... MORE

Jonathan Gruber and Me

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Jonathan Gruber has gotten some negative press for not revealing that he received substantial payments from the Obama Administration while also writing a Washington Post article favoring Obama's proposed government interventions in medical care. The main thing I would add... MORE

Questions about Jonathan Gruber

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Gruber is under fire for failing to disclose to reporters the funds he received from the government to investigagte health care reform. This story reports, That puts the total federal money Gruber received in the last two years at... MORE

A Really Obvious Way to Bend the Curve

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
In the U.S., the all-inclusive cost of a surrogate pregnancy usually exceeds $75,000.  Since insurance won't cover much if any of these expenses, most people who hire an American surrogate are fairly well-off.  Fortunately, there's a much cheaper option: Do... MORE

Consumer Surplus from Cancer Drugs

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Between 1988 and 2000, life expectancy for cancer patients increased by roughly four years, and the average willingness-to-pay for these survival gains was roughly $322,000. Improvements in cancer survival during this period created 23 million additional life-years and roughly $1.9... MORE

What Just Happened?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Can someone help me make heads or tails out of this piece on the Senate bill?  Key claims to reconcile:1. Demand for health insurance is going way up:Health insurers get some big presents in the Senate's health overhaul bill --... MORE

Memory Boost

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes:I know I had another argument with Bryan this year where I had to concede to him, but right now I cannot remember the topic. Selective memory strikes again.I'm happy to help out.  The history of the dispute:1. Arnold... MORE

Some Preliminary Political Economy of the Senate Bill

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
My favorite passage from Ezra Klein's pro-Senate bill blogging:Someone who puts off purchasing coverage and then tries to buy Aetna's plan the first time they collapse unexpectedly will not be sold a plan...Under reform, these people get the chance to... MORE

Exegesis, Public Choice, and the Senate Health Care Bill

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
When I explain the antitrust laws to my Industrial Organization students, I begin with the Fable of the Martian.  Suppose you're driving 66 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone with a fresh-off-the-spaceship Martian passenger.  No one in sight... MORE

A Manager's Perspective on Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A while back, I wrote:Yes, health insurance is bundled with jobs.  But markets bundle lots of products, and I see no evidence that this bundling undermines reputational incentives in the least.  Think about a typical restaurant.  It bundles many kinds... MORE

David Cutler on Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Steven Landsburg writes, My gut instincts point me in a different direction that Professor Cutler's do, but I think we agree on what the big problems are and on what would count as solutions. I think almost all economists would... MORE

Does the Public Get This Right?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
There is one question in the Roper-AP survey where I wonder if the American public is more perceptive than pro-Obama economists.  The question: "If the government makes these changes to health insurance [i.e., extending coverage], would that probably cause you... MORE

Hail Victor Fuchs

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
One of my favorite passages in The Myth of the Rational Voter argues that economists should often support markets even when they aren't working very well.  Why?  Because in the real world, government habitually make genuine market failures worse in... MORE

Wall Street Journal on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Today's lead unsigned editorial on health care in the Wall Street Journal is one of the best they have run. One good paragraph: They might have piped up earlier: What they're finally admitting is that all the grandiose talk about... MORE

Recommended Reading on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen recommends an article that interviews health information technology CEO Jonathan Bush. I concur in the recommendation. Read the whole thing.... MORE

The Case for Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Matt Welch writes, In France, by contrast, you walk to the corner pharmacist, get either a prescription or over-the-counter medication right away, shell out a dozen or so euros, and you're done. If you need a doctor, it's not hard... MORE

Questions for a Dissertation Defense

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Tomorrow morning, Robin Hanson is chairing a very interesting dissertation defense:One part finds that US firms that self-insure, thereby avoiding many health insurance regulations, spend 18-25% more per employee on medicine...The take-away:For those who think med is great, this seems... MORE

Trial and Error

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Atul Gawande says something I believe to be true and something I believe to be false. What I believe to be true: To figure out how to transform medical communities, with all their diversity and complexity, is going to involve... MORE

Why Don't More Therapists Use Exposure Therapy?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
At least according to the Handbook of Exposure Therapies, exposure is the most effective treatment for anxiety, OCD, post-traumatic stress, and similar problems.  But most therapists don't use it.  If you're a health economist, it's only natural to wonder why. ... MORE

Are American Doctors Overpaid?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Sherry Glied, Ashwin Prabhu, and Norman Edelman do not think so. The value of physicians' underlying human capital is estimated by forecasting an age-earnings profile for doctors based on the characteristics in youth of NLSY cohort participants who subsequently became... MORE

Repealing the Laws of Supply and Demand

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle writes, When you increase the demand for something without increasing the supply, you either get price increases, or shortages. Neither is what the authors are promising for their bills. She is referring, of course, to health care legislation,... MORE

My Alternative Health Care Bill

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen offers his, which strikes me as overly complicated. The bill I would propose would be one that encourages experimentation at the state level. Offer to support an experiment that allows an individual state to adopt single-payer, while allowing... MORE

Health Care: Let the Games Begin

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Gene Steuerle writes, Here is the bottom line on how employers and employees together can maximize what they get from government. Many employers who don't provide insurance today will probably just choose to pay the tax ($400-per-employee under one scenario... MORE

Maine's Pelosi/Baucus Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
An excellent news story in today's New York Times highlights the problems with government regulation of health insurance in Maine, problems that, the reporter notes, would likely occur if the U.S. Senate's and the U.S. House of Representatives' versions of... MORE

Explaining the Direction of Health Care Refrom

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The most important political fact affecting health care reform is the sizable Democratic majority. There are too many Democrats in the House and Senate for a bipartisan bill to make sense. Given that we are going to have a partisan... MORE

Read it and Weep

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Various pundits offer suggestions for controlling health care costs, hosted by the New York Times. My proposal (health care vouchers) has zero chance of being enacted. You may not like it, anyway. The other pundits' proposals, even if they were... MORE

Law and Order's Economics

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
My student, Mike Williams, sent me the following last night: I don't know if you watch Law and Order Special Victims Unit but they had a rather frustrating take on the pharmacutical companies tonight. In the episode one of their... MORE

It's the Prices, Stupid

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
That was the title of a famous article claiming that U.S. Health care spending is high because provider charges are excessive. Now, Ezra Klein (pointer from Tyler Cowen) brandishes charts furnished by an insurance industry trade group that purport to... MORE

Questions about the Public Option

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Steven Landsburg is now blogging. One of his first posts is on health reform. Concerning the public option, he writes, A more efficient bureaucracy? But if there were a way to save money by streamlining the bureacracy, why wouldn't all... MORE

Pseudo-Competition

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
The congressional leadership has been very vocal lately about the need for competition in health insurance. These are people who have previously never had a good word to say about "competition" in their entire political careers. They are the very... MORE

Tyler's Triple on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Hey, it's baseball playoff time and the article is in the New York Times and so of course I'm going to use a baseball metaphor. In his column today, Tyler Cowen addresses many of the problems with having government mandated... MORE

Health Care: The Facts that Matter

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In The Freeman, I write, Overall, I would argue that on the demand side, the United States healthcare system is essentially socialized. The fact is that close to 90 percent of health-care spending is paid for by third parties, which... MORE

Great Moments in Health Economics

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
From President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, "The Economic Case for Health Reform," June 2009: In medicine, however, technological progress in recent decades has been almost exclusively cost-increasing, without generating a commensurate increase in value. Undoubtedly, provider incentives, which largely... MORE

Obama's CEA on Adverse Selection

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Back in July, Bryan had an excellent post on adverse selection, pointing out that the textbook idea that adverse selection is an important problem in insurance is simply wrong. Krugman seemed to go back and forth on the issue, but... MORE

Now I Believe the Insurance Industry Study

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports, An internal industry study released earlier this week found that the Senate reform bill would cause premiums to rise sharply, but the report's findings have been widely disputed... Pelosi said the House may adopt a Senate... MORE

Are Taxes "Passed On"?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In arguing with the recent study done by Price Waterhouse Coopers for the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the White House bloggers say the following: AHIP CLAIM: Fees on health insurance providers, pharmaceutical manufactures and device makers will be passed... MORE

Britain's Central Planning Death Panels

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Hazel Fenton, from East Sussex, is alive nine months after medics ruled she had only days to live, withdrew her antibiotics and denied her artificial feeding. The former school matron had been placed on a controversial care plan intended to... MORE

Free Market M.D.

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
The doctor then takes a history and physical, spending about 30 minutes with me, for which the flat fee is $50. He explains his hourly billing is $100-much less than a typical lawyer charges, I'm happy to note. He tells... MORE

Health Care Reform: Two Important Points

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
1. The "score" of the Baucus bill as not adding to the deficit is far too generous. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf writes, The projected savings for the proposal reflect the cumulative impact of a number of specifications that would constrain... MORE

Politics is Not About Policy

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
David Harsanyi improves on David Broooks. Mr. Hoover knows everything. He attended a high-brow graduate school and worked as a Senate aide before becoming a policy expert. (He even pretends to understand Jeremy Bentham.) He is a man who craves... MORE

Naming Names

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
When Gandhi told us, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world," I can only assume he was talking about reputational incentives in the health insurance industry.  So I thought I should finish my "Punk'd by... MORE

Clarification on my Punk'd Episode

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I finished my Punk'd post with this:Question for Krugman: If our insurer wasn't extremely concerned about its reputation, why would they let a low-level functionary fix a $5k error in the company's favor after a single phone call?In the comments,... MORE

Back in August, Paul Krugman accused me of living in "an alternative universe in which insurance companies would never, never treat their clients badly, because that would hurt their reputations."  Of course, what I really said is that even when... MORE

Attention Hoosiers

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
On Tuesday, October 6th, I will be speaking at Indiana University. The time is 1PM. The location is the SPEA Atrium--I guess if you are familiar with the university, you know where that is. My topic will be health care... MORE

Government Spending on Health Care is Industrial Policy

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Strange as it may seem, Scandinavia now has free-market admirers, most notably Will Wilkinson and especially Scott Sumner.  The heart of their case: If you ignore their welfare states, Denmark has one of the freest economies in the world, and... MORE

Data on Canadian Medical Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
"The plural of anecdote is data." (attributed to George Stigler) My wife had breast cancer in 1986 and is an active consumer of information about breast cancer. A few days ago she gave me a link to a web site... MORE

Ezra Klein Won't Take My Medicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He seems to accept my diagnosis. The average health-care coverage for the average family now costs $13,375, according to Kaiser... About 160 million Americans receive health coverage through their employers. In general, the employer picks up 73 percent of the... MORE

Obama's Bait and Switch

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In the spring of this year, President Obama argued that one reason for health care reform was to get long-term spending on government health care under control. As he recognized and as every scholar and analyst who has studied future... MORE

Poster Child for U.S. Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A British reader forwarded this. Note that in order to get life-saving treatment, the boy apparently must go to the U.S. Overall, I am not a huge fan of our health care system, but one thing that I suspect that... MORE

The Biggest Lie on Health Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Of the following statements made by President Obama in his speech on health reform last week, which is not true? Answer below the fold. a) "if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance... MORE

Economics of Mandated Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Today's Wall Street Journal contains an interesting front-page news story about mandated health insurance, focusing on the case of Massachusetts. When Mitt Romney was governor, he pushed through a mandate, with subsidies for low-income people to buy it and taxes... MORE

Private Death Panels

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Suppose it were legally safe for a private insurer to offer death panels - presumably after talking to marketing to get a better name.  (By "legally safe" I mean not just the absence of contrary regulation, but a strong expectation... MORE

Friday Afternoon Miscellany

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Keith Hennessey has an interesting question. What thought leader most clearly and effectively presents points of view with which you frequently strongly disagree? He proposes that awards be given. Would Tyrone be considered eligible? Presumably, my nominees have to be... MORE

Shocking Views on Health Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
They come from Richard A. Cooper, a physician (not to be confused with Richard Cooper, the specialist in international economics). Orszag has argued that if Medicare spending could be as low in Newark as it is at Mayo, the nation... MORE

Obama's Contradiction on Health Care: II

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Three commenters on my post last night (ed, mark, and Karl Smith) pointed out, correctly, it turns out, that I missed Obama's point. I accused him of contradicting himself by claiming that he wouldn't put any government funds into the... MORE

Obama's Contradiction on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Here are two segments of Obama's speech this evening. They were within two paragraphs of each other: Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies don't like this idea. They argue that these private companies can't fairly compete with... MORE

The FDA's $2.3 Billion Attack on Free Speech

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Even Google didn't believe it. After Pfizer's $2.3 billion settlement with the Food and Drug Administration was announced, if you were to search for the words "Pfizer 2.3 billion legal settlement," Google responded with, "Did you mean: Pfizer 2.3 million... MORE

The Incredible Shrinking Private Sector?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Michael Mandel writes, The employment report shows that private sector employment in August 2009 was lower than it was in August 1999 Of course, August of 1999 was near the peak of the dotcom boom, and August of 2009 is... MORE

The Median Economist Speaks on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Gruber writes, Liberals are right that fundamental cost control can only come from the supply side. Consumers are poor and ineffective shoppers in the medical arena. Ultimately, they will do what their doctors tell them to do. ...But here... MORE

Robert Fogel on Health Care Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
His article would be self-recommending, except that Tyler uses that expression to mean something that he has not yet read. I have read Fogel's piece. He writes about rising health care expenditures, The main factor is that the long-term income... MORE

Dr. Ouelett on Canada's Medicare

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Canadian Defender of Medicare Admits that Waiting Lists in Canada are Long Early this morning (PDT), C-SPAN carried an interesting interview and call-in show with Dr. Ouelett, outgoing president of the Canadian Medical Association. Although Ouelett defended Medicare, Canada's system... MORE

How American Health Care Killed My Father

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Not my father: David Goldhill's father. In this stemwinder, Goldhill goes through some of the wacky incentives with which our health care system is laced. The title is somewhat misleading: although he does establish that American health care killed his... MORE

Pile on James Kwak Day

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Many of these links come from the indispensable Mark Thoma. First, we have Gender and banking: Are women better loan officers? by Thorsten Beck and others. And yes, it does strengthen my priors. The Fed's profits are turning higher. Perhaps... MORE

Health Care: Price Controls versus Budgeting

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Arnold is worried about economists who would "[t]ry to deal with health care costs by setting health care provider compensation policy in Washington."  I'm not quite sure what Arnold has in mind here.  But when the typical person makes this... MORE

If the Median Economist Set Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, Contrary to Arnold, I think it would be a vast improvement over the status quo. I've talked to plenty of left-wing economists about this topic. On balance, their views are much more reasonable than the median non-economist's. The... MORE

Arnold writes:On health care, the irrational public--the ones that want government to keep its hands off their Medicare--is helping to fight the Progressives who want to impose a health plan that is based on what I see as a failed... MORE

Why I am Not a Republican, Continued

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jeff Miron explains, Medicare should be reduced or eliminated. Opposing government health insurance by defending government health insurance is disingenuous, at best, and utlimately counterproductive. Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Nick Gillespie writes about the late Massachusetts Senator, In an... MORE

Medical Care Tidbits from a Left-Wing Conference Call

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Usually, my blog posts have a policy point to them, implicit or explicit. This one doesn't. It's straight reporting on something that I found interesting. Yesterday, I was on a media conference call in which the speakers were Roger Hickey... MORE

A Reader's Question on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, It seems to me that you are saying two different things about healthcare: 1) the way we think about health care and paying for it is out of whack. 2) the government is not (is not going to... MORE

Real Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
David Goldhill makes a lot of the points that I have been making. Two excerpts: But fundamentally, the "comprehensive" reform being contemplated merely cements in place the current system--insurance-based, employment-centered, administratively complex. It addresses the underlying causes of our health-care... MORE

I Agree With

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John Mackey on free-market health care reform; Alex Tabarrok on consumer-driven health plans; and Ken Rogoff that the financial crisis was more than just a loss of confidence.... MORE

One-Party State Watch

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma highlights a story that I had missed--a bargain between the pharmaceutical industry and the Obama Administration on health care reform.... MORE

Exit, Voice, and Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Here are my thoughts on the role of reputation in health insurance markets, a topic that Bryan has raised. I think that reputation matters when exit matters. That is, if people will switch suppliers based on word of mouth, then... MORE

Defending the Massachusetts Plan

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
It's working, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a non-partisan think tank that consistently advocates higher government spending and taxes in Massachusetts. From a base of $1.04 billion in fiscal 2006, the state is projected to spend $1.75 billion on... MORE

Various Links

Monetary Policy
Arnold Kling
I've been away, mostly in Prague (where the big economic question is why so many older buildings have so many fancy details. My answer is that there must have been a very unequal distribution of wealth, so that rich folks... MORE

Insurance, Reputation, and Caricature

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Here's a view Krugman attributes to me:Of course, there's also an alternative universe in which insurance companies would never, never treat their clients badly, because that would hurt their reputations.Here's what I explicitly said in my original piece on insurance... MORE

Life Expectancy Statistics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, Matt Yglesias and Paul Krugman weigh in on interpreting life expectancy statistics across the U.S. and the Netherlands. The fact under consideration, from a few days ago, is that the U.S. has low life expectancy overall but... MORE

Best Books on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Reader Hume asked: What is (are) the definitive free market health care book(s)? Thanks for any recommendations. "Definitive" is tough. It's hard to be definitive in one book. And the ones I recommend are not entirely pro-free market. But these... MORE

Only the Libertarian Fringe Offers Real Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ronald Bailey writes, The health care "reform" currently being hammered out by the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives already clocks in at $1 trillion and 1,000 pages--and it's nowhere near done. But one thing is clear: the legislation... MORE

Government Health Insurance and Pseudocertainty

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
One of the most appealing arguments for government health insurance is the perception that it's "a sure thing."  No matter how powerful reputational incentives are, a private health insurance might go out of business, or fall into the hands of... MORE

Not long ago, Krugman chided economists like Mankiw for overlooking moral hazard and adverse selection, the supposedly insuperable textbook barriers to free-market health insurance.  I objected:As long as rates are legally allowed to reflect risk, there is a lot of... MORE

Krugman on Canadian Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
"Bad move on my part" In a September 2008 debate on health care, Paul Krugman asks a question of the audience and gets a surprising answer. I won't ruin the suspense. Just watch this 30-second segment. Given my experience with... MORE

Health Insurance and Reputation

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Here's an argument even I've found seductively appealing:The problem with free-market health insurance is that if a customer develops a truly serious health problem, his insurance company will try very hard to weasel out of the contract.  At best they'll... MORE

Centralizing Medicare Even Further

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Somehow I missed this when it came out Monday. Here's what James C. Capretta reported about Obama's amazing power grab: Today, the Obama administration delivered one of the more remarkable presidential power grabs seen in recent memory (the transmittal letter... MORE

Cruel Caring in Breaking Bad

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Breaking Bad is a show about a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher who starts cooking meth to build up a bequest for his family.  You see a lot about the economics of drug prohibition in the show, but you're... MORE

Medical Liability and Tort Reform

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I received an e-mail from a student of mine and thought it would be worth answering for others as well as him. He wrote: Here are the two sides that I see on tort reform. 1. It is an attempt... MORE

What Makes Health Care Different?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
First, read Robin and Bryan on the issue. My thoughts: 1. I do not think that the economic differences between health care and other goods are as fundamental as the difference between the believers in Expertism and the believers in... MORE

Why I am Not a Republican

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Dana Milbank thinks that he has found a "ventriloquist" providing GOP talking points on health care. Castellanos used the word "experiment" six times to criticize Obama's plan; Steele, the eager pupil, used it 30. Only one thing would have made... MORE

Adverse Hazard, Moral Selection, Whatever

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
As far as I can tell, economists are even more sympathetic to socialized medicine than laymen.  The question that sticks in my mind is: Why?  Economists are normally calm and analytical.  When it comes to government provision of health care,... MORE

Massachusetts Health Reform, Version 2.0?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From the Boston Globe. The 10-member commission, which includes key legislators and members of Governor Deval Patrick's administration, voted unanimously to largely scrap the current system, in which insurers typically pay doctors and hospitals a negotiated fee for each individual... MORE

Taking Ezra Klein's Health Care Challenge,

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes that in order to cite the CBO criticism of the Democrats' health care reform proposals, one must do some combination of the following: a) Support, as the CBO says you should, the eradication of the tax exclusion that... MORE

Unbent and Unbowed

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Doug Elmendorf tries to speak truth to power Instead of saving the federal government from fiscal catastrophe, the health reform measures being drafted by congressional Democrats would increase rather than reduce public spending on health care, potentially worsening an already... MORE

What the Veterinary Medicine Piece Really Said

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Both Tyler and Megan are excited by a recent piece by Andrew Biggs that supposedly "seriously undercuts one of the major conservative arguments about health care:  that the main problem is consumers who don't bear their own costs."  Biggs' shows... MORE

Pet Health Care Theories

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Andrew Biggs writes, The chart below shows spending on veterinary care, which I pulled from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, and national health expenditures (for people) from the National Income and Product Accounts. Two things are interesting here: first, the rate... MORE

"Canadafornia" Medical Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Here's an excerpt from my chapter, "Free and Healthy at Half the Cost," in The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey. I was writing about the single-payer health care system in my native Canada. It's hard to say that the... MORE

In the Press

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
David Leonhardt talks about the real issue in health care spending (it's not administrative costs). Tyler Cowen calls the column "superb." I would give it no more than a B, because the question is posed in terms of which centralized... MORE

Thoughts on Administrative Costs in Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Do we want to eliminate the middle man in the health care industry? I do, but what I want to see is consumers pay providers directly. More thoughts: [UPDATE: see also Ezra Klein, who agrees with me that a lot... MORE

Great Questions, Matt

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Over at U.S. News and World Report, Matt Bandyk has a follow-up question for my last post on mandatory insurance and adverse selection:Here's my question to Dr. Caplan: But far from being populist anti-intellectualism, isn't the objection that "poor people... MORE

Krugman Misstates Arrow

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
My co-blogger Bryan Caplan comments today on Paul Krugman's blog post on Arrow's famous 1963 article on health insurance. There is more to be said. Krugman writes: Both George Will and Greg Mankiw basically argue that we don't need a... MORE

Nobody Speaking

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
In a recent post on health care, Krugman writes:[E]conomists have known for 45 years -- ever since Kenneth Arrow's seminal paper -- that the standard competitive market model just doesn't work for health care: adverse selection and moral hazard are... MORE

The Forked Tongue Speaks

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
There is a disconnect in the Obama administration's rhetoric on health care. On the one hand, the administration points out that our current health care financing system, particularly for government-funded programs, is unsustainable. This suggests an urgent need for... MORE

Fixing the Health Care System

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin and David Cutler write, There are health care institutions that have spent large sums on health IT with zero or even negative returns; some health IT reforms made matters worse and had to be uninstalled. The reason... MORE

Health Care Non-reform Watch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I argue, The debate we should be having is over whether restraint in our use of medical services should be initiated by government officials or left to consumers. The Democrats want to avoid that debate. Instead, they make it sound... MORE

Ezra Klein's Non Sequitur on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Ezra Klein writes: The [U.S. health care] system is currently biased toward the worst form of cost control: rationing by income. Every year, we contain costs by quietly letting 2 million or so more people fall into the ranks of... MORE

I (More or Less) Agree With Krugman

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Paul Krugman had a blog post last week that I agree with most of. (Pardon the preposition at the end of the sentence.) He criticized a bill, the Preserving Access to Targeted, Individualized, and Effective New Treatments and Services (PATIENTS)... MORE

Insurance as a Prisoners' Dilemma

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've got a little toenail fungus.  Now that you're done cringing in disgust, let's get to the economics.  My HMO doesn't cover treatment, because the problem is "merely cosmetic."  Until recently, though, I didn't care, because they're weren't any good... MORE

Fox News Roundup

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
My wife and I watch the Fox News Channel more than any other channel. It's not because we agree with everything, or even most of what, they say. My main reasons are twofold: (1) They bring up issues that the... MORE

Dean Baker on the Uninsured

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Dean Baker correctly takes to task people who claim that the estimated average cost of covering the uninsured with Obama's proposal is a whopping $62,500. Here's his key paragraph: Republicans were quick to put the cost at $62,500 for each... MORE

Help with the Spinach

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In health care reform, I have described cost controls as the spinach and expansion of coverage as the dessert. I continue to predict that the Democrats will first go for expansion of coverage in a way that alienates Republicans, and... MORE

Audience Questions

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
Feel free to put constructive questions in the comments. Here are two questions that I recently received, one on health care and one on Keynesian economics. On health care, actually two questions: You asked thequestion why is health care something... MORE

Employer-Provided Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I write, We should aim to phase out employer-provided health insurance. However, instead of trying to create a household insurance market that reconstitutes the unsustainable features of employer-provided health insurance, we need to allow for radical innovation in the very... MORE

Tyler Should Bet Against Obama-Care

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Robin's happy that "in the NYT, Tyler Cowen dares Obama to put up or shut up."  Tyler himself says:The most likely possibility is that the government will spend more on health care today, promise to realize savings tomorrow and never... MORE

HMOs Died Because They Worked

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Robin's got a great graph on the HMO revolution.  HMOs held health care spending as a fraction of GDP constant during most of the 90s.  Nothing before or since has managed to do the same.  The graph makes me wonder... MORE

The Purpose of the Public Health Insurance Plan

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezra Klein writes, The inclusion of a strong public insurance option has become, for most observers I know, the single most recognizable marker for victory. If the public plan exists, liberals have won. If it's eliminated, or neutered, then conservatives... MORE

Orszag and Hanson on McAllen's medical costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Peter Orzsag writes, McAllen's per capita expenditures grew to nearly twice the national average - driven primarily by local norms that tend towards heavier use of discretionary services - such as diagnostic testing and surgical versus less invasive interventions -... MORE

Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
You can listen to me, giving what felt at the time like a good talk. Also, I recommend Keith Hennessey You cannot magically slow health spending growth without proposing policy changes that affect incentives and behavior. If the President is... MORE

Marcus Welby Was Greedy, Too

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From my letter to the editor at the Washington Post: In 1960, 50 percent of personal health-care spending was paid for by patients out of pocket. Today, that figure is about 10 percent. We will never again see a patient-centered... MORE

Free Lunch!

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The President's Council of Economic Advisers writes, We estimate that slowing the annual growth rate of health care costs by 1.5 percentage points would increase real gross domestic product (GDP), relative to the no-reform baseline, by over 2 percent in... MORE

Gorman on Health Reform

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
This month's featured article on Econlib is by health economist Linda Gorman. Gorman points out that Blue Cross was given an important tax advantage over commercial insurers early in the game and that Medicare and Medicaid were modeled on Blue... MORE

Speaking of Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
That's what I'll be doing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, at noon, for Cato. I have nothing new to say. The facts haven't changed, so I haven't changed my mind since I wrote Crisis of Abundance.... MORE

Health Reform's Savings Myth

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
That is the title of an op-ed piece by Maya MacGuineas that is on the Washington Post web site. I didn't see it in print, because I am still not used to the way they have mixed up the Sunday... MORE

Health Care Economics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Atul Gawande writes, many physicians are remarkably oblivious to the financial implications of their decisions. They see their patients. They make their recommendations. They send out the bills. And, as long as the numbers come out all right at the... MORE

Technology and Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Last week, I was at an event in Washington, D.C. with about 20 other people--politicians, economists, journalists, and think tankers. One of the economists, Greg Mankiw, made a presentation in which he discussed the reasons for increasing health expenditures as... MORE

Health Care: Mandates or Vouchers

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Grace-Marie Turner and Joseph R. Antos write about a Republican health care proposal, The nexus of their plan is redirecting the $300 billion annual tax subsidy for employment-based health insurance to individuals in the form of refundable, advanceable tax credits.... MORE

Thoughts on Comparative Effectiveness Research

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, This commission, if it sticks to its statistical mandate, will be able to recommend many more possible cuts than any vote-maximizing administration will be likely to make. Some other principle will be used to determine cuts. Many... MORE

Keith Hennessey is Bitter

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, The President is attempting to claim credit for [health care] savings that (a) do not yet exist, (b) are not backed up by any specific changes in industry practices or government policies, and (c) are related to him... MORE

The Entitlement Outlook

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Andrew Biggs writes, Over the next 30 years, population aging is our main entitlements problem and it makes sense to seek solutions that are based on the problem we have, not the problem we want to have. Beyond 30 years,... MORE

Obama on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
from the Leonhardt interview. I don't know how much that hip replacement cost. I would have paid out of pocket for that hip replacement just because she's my grandmother. Whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to... MORE

Health Care Policy Links

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A podcast in which I talk about health care policy. Andrew J. Rettenmaier and Thomas R. Saving offer a proposal to control Medicare costs by encouraging higher savings along with higher co-payments and deductibles. John Goodman dissects the notion of... MORE

Medicare and Overfishing

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Vermont Public Radio reports, [Robert] Kuttner says the first red herring about single-payer health care is that it limits choice for the patient, and if you want proof look at Medicare. Indeed, Medicare does very little to restrict patients' access... MORE

Do Parents Affect How Long You Live?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Parents - especially moms - spend a lot of time nagging their kids to eat right, get some fresh air and exercise, not smoke, etc.  If nagging changed behavior, and there is some validity to popular perceptions about "what's healthy,"... MORE

Health Care Debating Points

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
You can hear some of mine in this pre-debate radio interview.... MORE

David Henderson on Health Care Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, what's the relevant distinction between health care spending and spending on airline travel? There is one and it's that so much of health care spending is people spending other people's money This is quite right. I say that... MORE

Arnold on Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In a post last week, my fellow co-blogger, Arnold Kling, writes about Obama OMB director Peter Orszag's thoughts on controlling health care costs. I think Orszag misses an important point and so does Arnold. First, Orszag. He takes as given... MORE

Debating Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Next Thursday, I will be debating Robert Kuttner in Burlington, Vermont. To be precise, 4-5:30 p.m. on April 23 in the Grand Maple Ballroom of the Dudley H. Davis Center on the University of Vermont campus. Ezra Klein writes, The... MORE

Why Health Care Reform is Hard

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Peter Orszag offers a can-do outlook on controlling health care costs. The bottom line is that health care reform must be deficit neutral in the short run and deficit reducing in the long term. We have to have scoreable savings... MORE

What is Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The issue gets discussed at Patriot's Quill. Let me offer two choices: (a) Health insurance is the collective provision of all health care. (b) Health insurance is the sharing of extreme risk in health care spending. In my view, (a)... MORE

The Uninsured and the Health Care Debate

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Keith Hennessey writes, As a policy matter, we care not about the total number of uninsured, but about the subset of that group that we think "deserves" taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. That is a judgment call that involves some value choices.... MORE

Some Libertarian Basics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In the comments on my health care rationing post, I received many standard attacks as being cold-hearted and willing to deny health care to people who need it. From a libertarian perspective, your generosity is reflected in what you do... MORE

Health Care Rationing

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezra Klein writes, Britain and Canada control costs in a very specific fashion: The government sets a budget for how much will be spent on healthcare that year, and the system figures out how to spend that much and no... MORE

Health Care Expert

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Guess who? proposals in his book, including a plan to scrap Medicare, Medicaid and employer-based health insurance in favor of vouchers that people could use to purchase coverage. It was not me, although I would be quite happy with those... MORE

Health Care Policy Swindle

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Keith Hennessey writes, You cannot spend $634 B on health IT, preventive care, and outcome measurement. You'll run out of things on which to spend it. Actually, you can spend that much--the recipients of the money will see to that.... MORE

Did Natasha Richardson Die from Socialized Medicine?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
The province of Quebec lacks a medical helicopter system, common in the United States and other parts of Canada, to airlift stricken patients to major trauma centers. Montreal's top head trauma doctor said Friday that may have played a role... MORE

Buying Inefficiency: Federal $ and State Medicaid Spending

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Brian Blase, my former RA, presents some edifying facts about Medicaid at National Review Online.The nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill making its way through Congress includes a little bit of everything, but if the bill passes as is, a large... MORE

Massachusetts Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
These critics sound like me. Massachusetts members of the Physicians for a National Health Program released a report today faulting the state's experiment with health reform for failing to achieve universal coverage, being too expensive and draining funds away from... MORE

Another Speaking Opportunity

Upcoming Events
Arnold Kling
on markets and health care. I know the topic sounds boring these days, but it really is somewhat important as a public policy issue. If you work on or near Capitol Hill, feel free to drop by. Friday, February 20th,... MORE

Organ Selling in Singapore: The Sad Real Story

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
My sources in Singapore inform me that a real free market in human organ donations isn't in the cards - and never was.  An econ prof at a Singapore college explains:My colleagues at the ministry of health tell me that... MORE

Podcasts

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Cato's Caleb Brown recently recorded me in two podcasts. My thoughts on multipliers and stimulus are here (this link may be more reliable). You will also find a link to my recent podcast on co-ordinated health care (I linked to... MORE

Two Podcasts

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Yours truly on why the doctor needs a boss. It's about ten minutes. I start out by describing an experience I had with reincarnation. Russ Roberts and Robin Hanson discuss the search for meaning and truth. It is clear that... MORE

Once kidney selling is legal in Singapore, will it enjoy a stampede of kidney-based tourism?  I say yes: Illegal Third World kidney transactions are scary to people from the First World.  So are legal kidney transactions in Iran.  Singapore will... MORE

Pinker's Genome

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Steven Pinker answered the call to "know thyself" by having his genome sequenced.  Some results:The two biggest pieces of news I got about my disease risks were a 12.6 percent chance of getting prostate cancer before I turn 80 compared... MORE

"30 Rock" Highlights

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Last night's "30 Rock" was a riot. Some of my favorite segments: Character played by Salma Hayek: I have another patient on my off days. He's a sweet old man with advanced dementia, totally disconnected from reality. Jack: That reminds... MORE

The Case for McMedicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Michael Cannon and I make it. Patients with multiple diagnoses require someone who can organize the efforts of multiple medical professionals. It is not unreasonable to imagine that delivering health care effectively, particularly for complex patients, could require a corporate... MORE

Inequality in Life Spans

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Do you think the government should forcibly reduce income inequality using taxes and subsidies? If so, wouldn't it follow that the government should forcibly reduce inequality in life spans? No? Then, if you answered Yes to the first question, you... MORE

Selection Bias in Blogging

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Over at marginalrevolution.com, Tyler Cowen posted a particularly good entry on famous economists' famous errors. The average quality of comments on that site is usually higher than on most economics sites, due, in no small part to Tyler's and Alex's... MORE

I Refused to Shake His Hand

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I truly need a vacation from my vacation.  After my kids were diagnosed with bronchitis, I decided I probably had the same ailment.  I'm a member of Kaiser, but since I'm out-of-state, my only in-plan option in California was to... MORE

Health Care Policy Update

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezekiel Emanuel with a solution based on vouchers. I think we have to head in that direction. With vouchers, you can put a finite budget on government health care subsidies. With service reimbursement programs, like Medicare, you have an open-ended... MORE

Longevity and the Work Ethic

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A new meta-analysis in Health Psychology finds that people with more conscientious personalities live longer:Howard Friedman and Margaret Kern at the University of California at Riverside found that people who were less conscientious were 50 per cent more likely to... MORE

The Zorn Effect

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Management systems degrade. As a manager or a regulator, if you stand still you fall behind. This year, the Washington Redskins hired a new coach, Jim Zorn. They started out 6-2, but they have since lost 5 out of 6... MORE

Health Care, Education, Spending, and Outcomes

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I attended a Cato event at which Glen Whitman and Ezra Klein discussed health care spending. The main stylized fact is that those who spend more on health care do not necessarily get more. As Ezra puts it The evidence... MORE

What Would Robin Hanson Say?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Sally Satel writes, About one in two American doctors say they prescribe placebos to their patients, and more than two-thirds believe it permissible to do so, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health. Nortin Hadler believes... MORE

Health Care Free Lunch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong and David Cutler promise one, on behalf of Barack Obama. As the reforms take hold, costs will drop. As costs drop, insurance will become more affordable. Millions previously priced out of the market will be able to buy... MORE

A Pareto-Optimal Move

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Economists often talk about Pareto-optimal moves, that is, changes in policy that make some people better off without making anyone else worse off. But we have trouble coming up with any real examples. It's an easy exercise to show that... MORE

The CBO Offers Hansonian Charts

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezra Klein highlights them. They show little difference in outcomes between genuine treatments and placebos. The implication of course is that it's far cheaper to give someone a chest incision than an angina, and far cheaper to give them a... MORE

Health Care: Obama, McCain, Hanson, and Utopia

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
David Cutler, Brad DeLong, and Ann Marie Marciarille write, One-third of medical costs go for services at best ineffective and at worst harmful. Fifty billion dollars will jump-start the long-overdue information revolution in health care to identify the best providers,... MORE

We Need Less

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Robert J. Samuelson writes, The central health-care problem is not improving coverage. It's controlling costs...Countless studies have shown that many tests, surgeries and medical devices are either ineffective or unneeded. Greater health-care spending forfeits any superior moral claim on our... MORE

The Future of U.S. Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports, Facing a severe budget shortfall, Rhode Island officials are seeking unprecedented authority to rein in Medicaid spending in a move that has alarmed Democrats in Congress and advocates for the poor. Read the whole story. I... MORE

Massachusetts Health Reform Failure

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Steffie Woolhandler, Benjamin Day, and David U. Himmelstein write, Meanwhile, few of the near-poor uninsured seem able to afford even the newly subsidized policies, and the federal funds providing the bulk of the subsidies are set to expire in 2008.... MORE

Today's Tylerisms

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He quotes a comment from David R. Henderson. I'm reluctantly coming to the conclusion, after having read his site almost daily for over a year, that Tyler is not a free-market crusader. Henderson is referring to the Freddie-Fannie bailout, which... MORE

Replying to Thoma on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma writes, when I think about moving P to G, I also think about moving the revenue stream with it (e.g. individuals would pay monthly premiums in taxes rather than to the insurance company). Thus, if we move all... MORE

What Every Worker Believes

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
1. I should have more autonomy. 2. I should be rewarded more for my own ideas that work. 3. I should be penalized less for my own ideas that fail. 4. Competition that is innovative or inexpensive is unfair. That... MORE

I Don't Understand Mark Thoma

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, But focusing on the immediate problems brought about by tax cuts and military spending should not divert us from the more formidable problem of solving the escalating health cost problem. If Obama wins and tries to institute some... MORE

Do HSAs Work? Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
In an otherwise wise addendum to his latest NYT column, Tyler takes a swipe at Health Savings Accounts:By the way, I think that HSAs are ineffective as health care reform and that the so-called "right" is floundering on this issue,... MORE

Real Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Two relatively new books that I have not read. One is by Roger Feldman. Should Medicare pay for patient expenses the way automobile insurers pay for car-repair bills? ...Medicare would pay each patient a fixed amount of money, reserving larger... MORE

The Must-Read Economics Book of 2008

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Bruno Frey writes, procedural utility has also been found to play a role in consumers' decisions. The first evidence of this was presented by Kahneman, et al., who investigated customers' reactions to a situation where the price of a good... MORE

Quarterback, Shepherd, Project Manager

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jane Gross writes, Looking back on the last few years of my mother’s life, ...my single biggest mistake was not finding a doctor with expertise in geriatrics to quarterback her care and attend to the quality of her life, not... MORE

Robert Fogel on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He says, Don’t be afraid of it; it’s actually the leading industry. The demands of healthcare are going to pull all other industries forward...I say if this were a privatized system, we would all say “gee it’s wonderful. All these... MORE

Health Care, Management, and Politics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
An hour-long podcast featuring Russ Roberts and me.... MORE

Crisis of Abundance Watch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, more than 1,000 other cardiologists and hospitals have installed CT scanners like the one Dr. Rosenblatt turned down. Many are promoting heart scans to patients with radio, Internet and newspaper ads. Time magazine and Oprah... MORE

My Ideas on Health Care Delivery

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A new essay: The autonomous, self-directed doctors produced by our medical schools are not suited to treating complex patients. Instead, what we need are team players, implementing consistent corporate policies. Independent skilled craftsmen, flying by the seat of their pants,... MORE

Bernanke, Orszag, and Kling on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ben Bernanke, who I think of as center-right, says, Per capita health-care spending in the United States has increased at a faster rate than per capita income for a number of decades. Should that trend continue, as many economists predict... MORE

Domestic Issues

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Income distribution, education, health care, and oil prices. David Henderson rushes in where few right-of-center economists dare to tread. He talks about the income distribution. The average number of earners per family for the top quintile is 2.16, almost three... MORE

Real Change in Domestic Policy

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
From a web site put together by Congressman Paul Ryan, It is a real plan, with real proposals, real numbers to back them, and real legislation to implement it. Based on the analysis of government actuaries, this plan is projected... MORE

The Ministry of Silly Hospitals

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Check out these true Monty Python-esque dialogues between a series of hospitals and a guy who wants an affordable colonoscopy. First dialogue:Conversation with Stanford Hospital: Me: My wife needs a colonoscopy: Could you give me a price on it? Stanford... MORE

Quality Health Care for Peanuts: How Singapore Does It

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
If Michael Moore really wanted to challenge our preconceptions about health care, Sicko would have been a documentary about health care in Singapore. Nick Schulz just pointed me to a very good summary of how the system works. It's not... MORE

Fixing Medicare with Vouchers

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Congressman Paul Ryan is the first politician I have seen with a plan that makes Medicare sustainable. The bill secures the existing Medicare program for those over 55 - so Americans can receive the benefits they planned for throughout most... MORE

I Just Got $100,000 Worth of Consumer Surplus!

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've been a pitiful figure the last six months. My feet have been hurting so much that I practically abandoned all walking on paved surfaces. I've been teaching class sitting down. I even started wearing real shoes. Desperation drove me... MORE

Publishing the Unpublishable Paper: Something to Care About

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
One of Robin Hanson's greatest unpublishable papers has finally been published. "Showing That You Care: The Evolution of Health Altruism" appears in the latest issue of Medical Hypotheses. Here's Robin summarizing the paper and his decade-plus struggle to publish it.... MORE

Sherry Glied vs. Jacob Hacker

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In Sunday's Washington Post, Jacob Hacker wrote, getting the government more involved in health care would actually reduce costs, improve quality and bolster the U.S. economy -- which helps explain why public insurance is the secret weapon in both of... MORE

The Paperback Arrives

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Crisis of Abundance is now in paperback, for ten bucks at Amazon. The fact that Peter Orszag, no ideological fellow-traveler of mine, sounds many similar themes indicates to me that I can feel justifiably proud of the book. Two changes... MORE

Peter Orszag on Health Care Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He spoke at the Wilson School. The audio sounds bad on my computer, but he makes an important point. If health care costs are 16 percent of GDP, and we could reduce spending by 30 percent with no worse outcomes,... MORE

WHO's Health Rankings

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Glen Whitman writes, suppose that a country currently provides everyone the same quality of health care. And then suppose the quality of health care improves for half of the population, while remaining the same (not getting any worse) for the... MORE

Preventive Health Care is not a Free Lunch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
'rdan' quotes a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not. Careful analysis of the costs and benefits of specific interventions, rather... MORE

A Health Care Proposal

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
from Kevin Drum: But if it's price signals and competition you're after, why not cut out the middleman and have consumers pay doctors directly? For example, imagine a national healthcare plan that paid 75% of all medical expenses but required... MORE

Health Insurance Innovation?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen waxes romantic. Let me also tell you my ideal world. Insurance companies are judged by honest third party intermediaries. Insurance companies compete like heck to make customers satisfied. Insurance companies monitor doctors, read Robin Hanson, and require evidence-based... MORE

Uncle Jonathan Wants You

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Gruber writes, It is useful to think about the uninsured as tuna and those who already have insurance as dolphins. The goal of environmentally conscious fishermen is to catch as many tuna as possible in their nets, while minimizing... MORE

A Health Care Experiment

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Called the Medicare Coordinated Care Demonstration Coordinated care services are actions taken by a Registered Nurse (RN) Care Manager to help your doctor(s) determine your care. The RN Care Manager will also check on you at regular times and help... MORE

The Massachusetts Health Care Tar-baby

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Shikha Dalmia writes, The state health-care bill for fiscal 2008-2009 is expected to touch $400 million -- 85% more than originally projected. Still the state won't be able to fully shield those it subsidizes from the premium increases. But uninsured... MORE

My Ongoing Frustration

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I'm back home, a thousand miles away from my father. But he had another setback, and he is back in the main hospital. I am not expecting any miracles. I know that the clock has been ticking ever since his... MORE

The Government Health Care System

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My latest essay: Medicare is wonderful for relieving the elderly from the burden of worrying about health care expenses. By the same token, it is wonderful for relieving doctors of the burden of worrying about the elderly as customers. You... MORE

Preference Heterogeneity and Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
David Cutler, Amy Finkelstein and Kathleen McGarry write, Standard theories of insurance, dating from Rothschild and Stiglitz (1976), stress the role of adverse selection in explaining the decision to purchase insurance. In these models, higher risk people buy full or... MORE

Medical Innumeracy in Super Crunchers

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Ian Ayres' Super Crunchers is full of neat material. But my favorite parts highlight the innumeracy of the medical profession. Most vivid example:[M]y partner, Jennifer, and I were expecting for the first time - back in 1994. Back then, women... MORE

Posner vs. Becker

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Richard Posner writes, the uninsured are on average less rather than more healthy than the insured Gary Becker writes most of those without health insurance are young and do not have major medical expenses. Well, I suppose that the uninsured... MORE

Liberal Fascism Watch

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
The Boston Globe reports Mayor Thomas M. Menino embarked on a highly public campaign yesterday to block CVS Corp. and other retailers from opening medical clinics inside their stores, an effort that exposed a rift between Menino and the state's... MORE

In The Undercover Economist, Tim Harford highly praised the health care policies of Singapore. But it wasn't until I read the section on health care in Ghesquiere's Singapore's Success that I realized how amazing the official numbers are. If the... MORE

Thoughts on Medicare

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle writes, My (partial) list of the interesting questions: 1. Is Medicare well structured to provide good health care to the elderly? 2. Is Medicare encouraging today's workers to save less than they will ultimately need? In other words,... MORE

New Working Papers of Interest

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Cass Sunstein and Ed Glaeser: we suggest that social learning is often best characterized by what we call Credulous Bayesianism. Unlike perfect Bayesians, Credulous Bayesians treat offered opinions as unbiased and independent and fail to adjust for the information sources... MORE

Premium Medicine: Proton Therapy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From the New York Times. The machines accelerate protons to nearly the speed of light and shoot them into tumors. Scientists say proton beams are more precise than the X-rays now typically used for radiation therapy, meaning fewer side effects... MORE

What Nick is Reading

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Nick Schulz sends me three interesting links. 1. A shining example of what I call a bogus mortgage lender. In 2004, Bohan Group, a due diligence underwriting company, was hired by a bank to double-check the suitability of mortgages written... MORE

Against Moneyball Medicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Richard Dolinar, M.D., writes, The physician has taken the history, performed the physical, reviewed the labs, and discussed the illness with the patient and family. He knows the patient's wishes, desires, and values. All this critical information must be considered... MORE

Are You Tired

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
of hearing me talk about health care policy? If so, then don't click on the link to this podcast. I elaborate on ideas I wrote about in Government and Health Care: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.... MORE

Orszag gives my talk

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Peter Orszag writes, A congressional hearing tomorrow will focus on new long-term budget projections from the Congressional Budget Office. CBO projects that under current law, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid measured as a percentage of gross domestic product will... MORE

Pragmatic Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay: Overall, I am not persuaded that socialized medicine will prove more efficient in the United States. However, I am not a big fan of the insurance industry as it operates today, and I think that it... MORE

The Iceberg Groweth

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office: in the absence of changes in federal law: --Total spending on health care would rise from 16 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 to 25 percent in 2025, 37... MORE

Blogging When I Should Have Been Betting

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Last year I argued that AIDS estimates were inflated. Now the UN has cut its estimate of the number infected by 40%. This is getting to be a pattern! HT: Tyler (who once said I was dead wrong about this...)... MORE

Health Care Safety

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok writes, I consider a 1% chance of death to be very risky, perhaps worthwhile for some morbidly obese people but when 1 in every 100 patients doesn't make it off the table that is not good odds. What... MORE

Comparative Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Left's story of health international health care comparisons is the following: 1. The U.S. system is flawed. 2. Other countries' systems work much better. 3. The U.S. system relies on the free market. 4. There are two systems of... MORE

Jonathan Cohn Needs Masonomics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, You don't have to choose between universal access and innovation. It's possible to have both--as long as you do it right. By universal access, he means a government-run system. By innovation, he means wonderful new medical procedures. The... MORE

Doctor-Patient Conversations

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, An influential medical standards group plans to present a new model today for helping employers and insurers to identify the best primary care doctors and to steer patients their way. Those doctors, in turn, would... MORE

Mankiw Scores One

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw writes, Almost all sweeping health reform proposals involve higher taxes on the rich to provide benefits for those farther down the economic ladder. The redistribution, rather than health reform, is sometimes the main objective. To judge whether my... MORE

Kling and Mankiw on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I talk for an hour with Russ Roberts, here. I'd love to hear your comments. Don't forget to vote for econtalk in the podcast awards. Finally, Greg Mankiw raises some issues with health care statistics. 1. International comparisons of longevity... MORE

Another One of My Health Care Debate Peeves

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
As you see in the comments on this post, the Left has an answer to my concern that Medicare is the fiscal equivalent of the Titanic. The answer is, "We need to control health care costs!" Of course! Why didn't... MORE

More Passengers on the Titanic

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Kevin Drum writes, here's an idea: expand Medicare (or create a similar program) to cover every person in America under the age of 21. And then let them keep it as they grow older. In ten years everyone under 31... MORE

Maggie Mahar vs. Arnold Kling

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
She is a market-hating health care expert. She writes, Just as the U.S. spends more per person on healthcare than any other country in the world on healthcare, healthcare expenditures in Massachusetts surpass spending in every other state. And this,... MORE

Random Things to Read

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Terry J. Fitzgerald in the Minneapolis Fed Review: Fringe benefits have become an increasingly important part of employee compensation over the past 30 years. The BLS estimates that benefits currently account for about 30 percent of employer costs for employee... MORE

A Quibble with Tyler

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, Two strong points that can be scored against conservatism or market-oriented ideas, as opposed to the Bush Administration. First, state-level tax and spending limits haven't worked out. Second, "the right" doesn't (yet?) have a coherent health care... MORE

Single-Payer: Klein vs. Kling

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
You might think that the fact that I disagree with Ezra Klein about single-payer health insurance is a "dog bites man" story. But read on. Klein writes, We’ve got all these great universal bills passing at the state level, and... MORE

Doctors' Statistical Ignorance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle writes, Take a test for a disease that has a false positive rate of 5%, and a disease prevalence of 1 in 1000--lupus, say. If you test positive in a random assay, what are the odds that you... MORE

Senator McCain on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He asks some rhetorical questions For all the grandiose promises made in this campaign, has any candidate spoken honestly to the American people about the government's role and failings about individual responsibilities? Has any candidate told the truth about the... MORE

Overtreated

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My review of Shannon Brownlee's new book. Brownlee proposes the alternative of paying doctors a salary, based on the number of patients that they see. However, I would argue that this would create the opposite incentive. Under a capitation based... MORE

Mandatory Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Glen Whitman writes, To enact any mandate, legislators and bureaucrats must specify a minimum benefits package that an insurance policy must cover. Yet this package can't be defined in an apolitical way. Each medical specialty, from oncology to acupuncture, will... MORE

More on Journalists

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen makes 8 remarks about journalism. The one that most reinforces what I believe is: Journalists tend to favor visible stories and neglect invisible opportunity costs and invisible hand mechanisms, which often but not always puts them against the... MORE

Ending Aging

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I promised I would have more to say about Aubrey de Grey's book, and I do that in this essay. At a more subtle level, de Grey wants institutional changes that wrest control of the research agenda from the medical... MORE

Proposals for Health Care Stasis

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Now that Hillary Clinton has released her health care plan, it occurs to me that "health care reform" has become an Orwellian term. Her proposal, like those of other Democrats, would take our existing form of health insurance--what I call... MORE

Fogel Compares Health Systems

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor's column in the latest Journal of Economic Perspectives points to an interview with Robert Fogel. What we currently call the poverty line is so high that only the top 6 percent or 7 percent of the people who... MORE

Doctors as Oracles

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
From Robin Hanson:Heroic medicine is just too central to our culture, a culture where economists like me have far less authority than doctors. From Rudi Giuliani: Ultimately, a woman should make that [decision whether to get an abortion] with her... MORE

How Contrarian is the Hansonian View of Medicine?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
To be honest, when Robin Hanson first told me his views on health care, I thought he was a lone nut. A brilliant lone nut, but a lone nut nonetheless. Still, my conversations with Robin inspired me to grill every... MORE

Robin Hanson Unbound

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, Cutting half of medical spending would seem to cost little in health, and yet would free up vast resources for other health and utility gains. To their shame, health experts have not said this loudly and clearly enough.... MORE

Another Reason To Doubt Infant Mortality Data

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Cheryl Miller writes Prematurity is now the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, in part due to the “epidemic” of multiple births to IVF patients. Multiples are twenty times more likely to die in the first month... MORE

I Will Live to Be 87

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
...according to Northwestern Mutual's statistical applet. But I suspect they don't realize that we should all expect to outlive our so-called "life expectancy." P.S. Notice how the applet does not include income as a predictor of life expectancy - contrary... MORE

He's Not an Economist

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
But he plays one at his blog. Dr. Bob offers his diagnosis of the health care system, in 8 parts. From Part 7. one of the latest gimmicks the health care policy wonks have dreamed up, more commonly known as... MORE

Reality and Health Care Spending

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
David Leonhardt writes, No one really knows whether preventive medicine will save money in the long run, let alone free up the billions of dollars a year needed to help pay for universal health insurance. In fact, studies have shown... MORE

Are They All Orphans?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I received some pushback on my latest health care essay, in which I argued that many of the people who are uninsured have made a choice and should live with the consequences. A reader pointed out that 9 million of... MORE

Universal Coverage? I say Ma-a-a-a-ah

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Notwithstanding what I wrote here, I try to make a case the "universal coverage" is no panacea for health care. I write, I would like to see the abolition of the tax break for company-provided health benefits as well as... MORE

Ken Rogoff and a Health Care Fallacy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ken Rogoff raises a very important issue. Many societies view healthcare as a right, not a luxury. When medical expenses constituted only a small percentage of income, as was typically the case 50 years ago, an egalitarian approach to healthcare... MORE

Thoma Takes on Robert J. Samuelson

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma writes, [Columnist Robert J.] Samuelson's continual focus on the budget deficit obscures the real problem. It doesn't matter whether health care is in the public domain or the private domain, the costs will be daunting either way if... MORE

Physician Pay

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Alex Berenson thinks that he has gotten to the crux of America's health care spending problem. the partisan fight over insurers and drug makers is a distraction from a bigger problem: the relatively high salaries paid to American doctors, and... MORE

Primary Care Doctors vs. Specialists

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal reports primary-care doctors, including internists, family physicians, and pediatricians, are in short supply across the country. Their numbers dropped 6% relative to the general population from 2001 to 2005, according to the Center for Studying Health... MORE

Medical Paradigm

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From an article by Ron Bailey. Olshansky argues that the old paradigm of directly targeting diseases is about to run out of steam. Even if all cancer, all heart disease and all diabetes were eliminated, it would add only 3... MORE

Andy Stern on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A reader points me to this interview with Andy Stern, head of the Service Employees union. He says that employer-provided health insurance is an anachronism. Coming from a union guy, that's refreshing. It would be even more refreshing coming from... MORE

Doctors and Waiting Times

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen asks, in market equilibrium, should we expect two- or three month-long waits to see a doctor? The alternative is for the doctor to charge more for a visit, thereby shortening the queue. My guess is that this has... MORE

Opposition to Single-Payer Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
According to the Washington Post, it comes from Jonathan Gruber. Instead, Gruber argued for a more incremental approach, like the one in Massachusetts he helped write. Its central elements would be providing subsidies to people who are unable to pay... MORE

On the Health Care Front

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Reihan Salam writes, Mind you, we want poor people to be less cost-conscious when it comes to consuming healthcare, so in one obvious sense this is a strength of the French alternative. But then there's everyone else. The post is... MORE

Austan Goolsbee on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes If you set up a market-based health system, allowing insurance companies to pick and choose who and what they will cover, you give them overwhelming incentives to dump, deny, avoid and neglect the sick people. But the data... MORE

Health Care Op-Ed

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I have a piece in the Washington Times. I compare Michael Moore's "Sicko" with my wife's "documentary" of our daughter's college graduation last month. On one side of me at the graduation sat the director/co-star, a breast cancer survivor. On... MORE

Why No Electronic Medical Records?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezra Klein writes, To this day, I've never read a compelling explanation of why the nation's doctors and hospitals haven't broadly adopted electronic medical records. Has he not read my explanation, or does he not think it compelling? In case... MORE

In which Max discovers a tic

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Max Sawicky noticed that I use the phrase "my guess" a lot. A few weeks ago, Julian Sanchez wrote, But it occurs to me that in addition to the phrases at large in the written culture of the society, there... MORE

Health Care Beliefs and "Sicko"

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My latest essay says, Illness deprives us of the sense of physical safety. Disease and injury are a throwback to the circumstances in which our physical environment is threatening and overwhelming. Thus, health problems tend to trigger our collectivist instincts.... MORE

The Height of Brave Interpretation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Paul Krugman gets excited over research by John Komlos and Benjamin E. Lauderdale. They write, Results: US heights have stabilized at mid-century and a perio0d of stagnation set in with the birth cohorts 1955-74, concurrent with continual rapid increases in... MORE

The Crux of Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Clive Crook writes, Much more needs to be done to push employers out of the health insurance market. Most of the reforms now being touted, by Democrats and Republicans alike, aim to do the opposite. ...You could give everybody a... MORE

Brad DeLong's Health Care Prescription

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He proposes, 20% Deductible/Out of Pocket Cap: The IRS snarfs 20% of your family economic income. 5% of it is an increase in taxes (but that replaces your and your employer's current health insurance premiums). 15% of it goes straight... MORE

I Get Noticed

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
James Pethokoukis thinks that Rudy Guiliani has fallen under my spell. what Giuliani is doing is far more radical than his folksy debate answer suggests. Essentially, he is calling for the complete abolition of the current way healthcare insurance operates... MORE

Health Care Cynicism

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
1. Russ Roberts interviews Robin Hanson, for those of you who are curious to find out more about his thesis that when people do not pay for their own health care, the services that they obtain on average do as... MORE

A Controversial Health Insurance Metaphor

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My latest TCS essay says, Many people began to agitate for universal, government-provided prostitution insurance, arguing that such systems were working in Canada and in many European countries. Such a single-payer system for prostitution would solve the growing problems of... MORE

Should I Get LASIK?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Hansonian doubts aside, I've been thinking about getting LASIK (laser corrective eye surgery) for a couple of years. By making a small investment of discomfort and cash, I could save about 30 hours of time per year (cleaning glasses, doctor... MORE

Health Care and the Consumer

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Baltimore Sun reports National Imaging Associates estimated several years ago that as many as 30 percent of imaging studies were not needed or not the correct test, although NIA believes the number may have declined as insurers have tightened... MORE

Hanson on Hanson

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
What is this Hansonian view of medicine that you hear me talk about? Robin Hanson explains. The bottom line is that thousands of people randomly given free medicine in the late 1970s consumed 30-40% more medical services, paid one more... MORE

Do the Overweight Pull Their Weight?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A result from Kate Bundorf that (a) I'd like to believe, (b) Seems logical in light of basic micro, but (c) Still strikes me as implausible: Who pays the added costs associated with high rates of obesity? Most health insurance... MORE

Tyler Cowen Channels Uwe Reinhardt

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, Let's say a patient pays $1000 to a doctor, but half of that sum is fraudulent pricing brought on by patient irrationality, non-transparency, fear of death, and fraud. Sound familiar? The real social cost is what the... MORE

A Headline Tells the Single-Payer Story

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From the Hartford (Ct.) Courant: Universal Care Might Cost State Almost $18 Billion; Proposal Seen As Dead Later in the story, a spokesman for the state's governor is quoted. "If 6 percent of the people need health insurance, the program... MORE

Downplaying the Uninsured

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My Cato friend Michael Cannon writes, I may lose my health policy decoder ring for asking this, but should we really be focusing specifically on covering the uninsured? ...there are other approaches that could purchase more health for the money... MORE

Breast Cancer: a Hansonian Tale

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
According to the New England Journal of Medicine: the age-adjusted incidence rate of breast cancer in women in the United States fell sharply (by 6.7%) in 2003, as compared with the rate in 2002. Data from 2004 showed a leveling... MORE

Becker on Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Nobel Laureate Gary Becker writes, Long-term health insurance with individual plans is uncommon mainly because health insurance companies cannot force customers to make a long-term commitment. If a person has experienced good health, he may seek a cheaper plan with... MORE

Jason Furman's Health Care Plan

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jason Furman writes, What we need is a different approach to encourage cost consciousness in a progressive manner that links the level of cost sharing to income and attempts to use cost sharing to improve systemwide incentives for more effective... MORE

Arlo's Single Payer Plan

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A commenter on a previous post challenged me to design a single-payer health care system. OK, here goes. We can call this the Arlo health care plan (Arlo is my analogue to Tyrone, Tyler Cowen's evil twin). 1. I am... MORE

Medicare, the U.S., and France

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Cohn writes, French universal health insurance works an awful lot like Medicare does in this country. And that's the great irony of how screwy the debate over health care has become in this country. Conservatives always talk about expanding... MORE

Sobering Projection

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Skinner writes Fronstin (2006) estimates that a 55-year-old couple in 2006, planning to retire at age 65, would need to accumulate more than $400,000 during the next 10 years in order to afford supplemental health costs, beyond what Medicare... MORE

Doctors, Pharmaceuticals, and Statisticians

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Los Angeles Times reports, The study, called the Courage Trial, enrolled 2,287 patients at 15 VA medical centers and another 35 hospitals in the United States and Canada. It was sponsored primarily by the VA and the Canadian Institutes... MORE

An Alternative to Single-Payer Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Senator Tom Coburn offers a market-oriented alternative. Under the Act, Americans would be eligible for a tax rebate to purchase health insurance. The “Medi-Choice” rebate would be made directly to a patient’s health insurer and would be worth $2,000. Families... MORE

Single-Payer Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Here is single-payer health care in a nutshell: 1. People are forced to buy something that they don't seem to want 2. Provided by a monopoly 3. Paid for by higher taxes If you need a more nuanced discussion, follow... MORE

Against Statistics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Marc Siegel writes, By the time a lung cancer is seen on an X-ray it is almost always too widespread to be operated on. Hence, the only chance for a cure is finding it before it has spread via a... MORE

$125 K of premium medicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Wall Street Journal technology reporter Lee Gomes describes his treatment for pneumonia. Abbott's Harold C. Flynn says it takes the Cell-Dyn 34 seconds to do an analysis. During that time, it counts an average of 325,000 cells, and then goes... MORE

Hanson Gets Empirical

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson describes four interesting meta-studies on medical research that ought to make you less confident about the latest study that "proves" the wonders of modern medicine.... MORE

Finkelstein on Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Amy Finkelstein writes, Research I conducted shows that Medicare had a substantial effect on the health-care sector. By 1970, the program caused a 37% increase in hospital spending. This is an enormous number. If I extrapolate from the Medicare experience... MORE

The Congressional Budget Office on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Chapin White writes Figure 2 illustrates excess growth in real Medicare spending on physician and clinical services. During the 1970s and 1980s, excess growth was quite high, generally ranging between 4 percent and 8 percent. Beginning around 1990, excess growth... MORE

McFadden on the Prescription Drug Program

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Nobel Laureate Daniel McFadden writes, My overall conclusion is that, so far, the Part D program has succeeded in getting affordable prescription drugs to the senior population. Its privatized structure has not been a significant impediment to delivery of these... MORE

The U.S. as a Health Care Spending Outlier

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The McKinsey Global Institute reports, In a study comparing the United States and the United Kingdom, Aaron showed that the United States has four times the number of CT scanners per person, and performs four times the number of scans... MORE

Five Big Health Care Questions

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My latest essay: Somehow, health insurance has become a social fetish. I could travel to the far reaches of the globe, and almost everywhere I would find merchants where my credit is good and my dollars are welcome. But here... MORE

Radical Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Victor R. Fuchs write, [Most health care reform plans] prop up the sagging employment-based insurance system, with all its inefficiencies and inequities, and preserve the second-class income-tested programs such as Medicaid... The country needs comprehensive reform.... MORE

Cowen Gets Caplanian

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
When was the last time Tyler Cowen and I agreed? Let's just say it's been a while. But he's just hit the adverse selection nail on the head: When I argue that adverse selection is not the key, I hear... MORE

The Reality of Massachusetts Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Boston Globe reports, More than 200,000 people with health insurance would have to buy additional coverage to meet proposed minimum standards under the state's new health insurance law, according to a count completed by insurers yesterday. Most of the... MORE

Brad DeLong on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes, Our irresistible force is our belief that health care should not be rationed by price. Our immovable object is the unwillingness of American taxpayers to be turned into an IV drip bag for the health sector that the... MORE

Health Care Conversation Winds Down

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Cato Unbound discussion of health insurance in which I participated has wound down. Here is a snippet from Jonathan Cohn's last post. Programs exclusively for poor people tend to be poor (because they lack powerful political constituencies)... Now, conservatives... MORE

The Bush Health Plan

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I write, Consider the status quo. An economist on the faculty at Princeton who receives generous health benefits from the University is able to enjoy them tax-free. So can the professor's secretary. But, as with all tax breaks, there is... MORE

Tyrone Posts on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Zasloff writes Bush plans to pay for [his proposed health insurance deduction] not by efficiencies, but rather by restricting the benefit packages of the already insured, through the deductibility cap. Paying for something with efficiencies is nothing but a... MORE

Capping a Bad Tax Break

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw points to a story about a health policy proposal under consideration by President Bush. Bush's health-care proposal would use tax breaks to make it easier for people who do not have employer-provided health insurance to buy coverage on... MORE

Kevin Drum's Turkish Bazaar

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He accuses Arnold Kling, who thinks the healthcare biz need less insurance and more free market capitalism in order to drive down costs and force people to buy only the care they need. I doubt it. More likely it would... MORE

Health Care Celebrity Death Match

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Cato Unbound issue on health care has reached the rebuttal stage. I write, ...So I agree with Holt's diagnosis, that health care providers have too much political power. But his prescription–to put more of the health care system under... MORE

Guaranteed Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jacob S. Hacker writes, If one word captures the essence of Health Care for America, it is "guaranteed." Health Care for America would guarantee coverage; it would guarantee a generous package of benefits; it would guarantee greater choice; and it... MORE

Why Company Health Clinics?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
James Miller notes a New York Times story on corporations setting up in-house health clinics. Miller comments, Much of economic growth comes from specializing. Whatever is requiring firms such as Pepsi to "unspecialize" by providing health care is greatly harming... MORE

Premium Medicine, Illustrated

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal reports, As doctors studied the course of treatment of dozens of patients at Virginia Mason's spine clinic, it was clear no standard procedures were being followed. Though Virginia Mason physicians are salaried and have no direct... MORE

Negotiating Drug Prices

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A CBO report says, A chain pharmacy usually dispenses prescriptions as written by the physician for brand-name drugs under patent protection; so even though a chain pharmacy may buy a large volume of brand-name drugs under patent protection, it generally... MORE

90 Percent Lack Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I start by suggesting that hardly anyone has health insurance. The health coverage most Americans have is what I call “insulation,” not insurance. Rather than insuring them against risk, most families’ health plans insulate them from paying... MORE

Schooling and Health

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Gina Kolata of the New York Times discusses research showing that staying in school longer tends to extend life. A key paper is by Adriana Lleras-Muney. Her approach to sorting out causality and confounding effects: between 1915 and 1939, at... MORE

More Hansonian Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
David Leonhardt reports, People with a drug-coated stent seemed unusually vulnerable to blood clots in later years. The new stents solved one problem, but they may have created another. This supports Robin Hanson's view that beneficial medicine is offset by... MORE

Ezra and Elasticity

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Carefully read Ezra Klein's piece on why Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) won't slow the growth of health care spending. Long story short: 5% of the population consumes 50% of the health care. To significantly cut costs, you've got to restrain... MORE

Distribution of Health Care Spending

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Looking at a graph of the distribution of health care spending, Ezra Klein writes, HSAs and their brethren like to pretend that by forcing caution on when you get a test for strep throat, we can significantly effect health costs.... MORE

Single Payer in the U.S.?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
'Jane Galt' writes, There are some serious constraints that I think would have to be considered by anyone trying to design a national health care package: 1) It cannot provide less, or less rapid, coverage than the typical American policy... MORE

Robert Hall, Health Care Spending, and Longevity

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
At an MIT economics alumni event today, I had a brief discussion with Robert Hall on health care spending. He argues that (a) health care spending is going to approach 50 percent of GDP by the end of this century,... MORE

Comparing Effectiveness of Health Care Procedures

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Gail R. Wilensky proposes creating a research center devoted to comparing the effectiveness of medical procedures. The most obvious and direct way to finance at least the public portion of a comparative effectiveness center is through a direct appropriation by... MORE

David Cutler on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I went to Cato to hear leading health care economist David Cutler and others discuss Pay for Performance (if you go to the link in a couple of days, you should be able to view the event). Beforehand, Robin Hanson... MORE

Health Care Policy for Pets

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John Ford writes, It seems that Ipswich Hospital in England wants to capitalize on its underutilized XRT facilities to treat animals -- presumably on a fee-for-service basis. ...I'm thinking that the calculated price per unit treatment will be less for... MORE

An Illustration of Premium Medicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Gina Kolata does some careful reporting in the New York Times. Researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center report that they can save the lives of millions of people by detecting lung cancer early and treating it immediately, when... MORE

Medicare-for-all Fantasy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
As promised, I offer my rebuttal to Jacob Hacker and others who see Medicare expansion as the way to "fix" the health care system. According to the 2006 report of the Medicare Trustees, the unfunded liability in Medicare over the... MORE

Culture and Health Care Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
David Leonhardt discusses the common complaint, why is it that the U.S. spends so much on health care and has no greater longevity than other countries? He writes, So something beside administrative costs is at work here, and it involves... MORE

The day after I met Ezra Klein and gave him my 10-minute spiel on systematically biased beliefs about economics, he provides a neat example. (My influence? I can dream, can't I?) Discussing findings from a new Kaiser survey on health... MORE

Better than Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezra Klein writes, if consumers, as they've repeatedly proven, don't want insurance, but instead want insulation, why shouldn't we seek to make that work (as it does in a variety of other countries and systems). Consumers do love to be... MORE

Robin Hanson on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He sent this email to me and to others: Imagine someone claimed that casinos produce, not just entertainment, but also money. I would reply that while some people have indeed walked away from casinos with more money than they arrived... MORE

Mark Thoma on Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He says, Do health markets suffer from substantial market failure? My assessment of these markets says the answer is yes and, in particular, the most difficult problem to solve, adverse selection, is the most serious problem plaguing these markets. My... MORE

Health Care Innovation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen reminds us that the U.S. is the leader. In real terms, spending on American biomedical research has doubled since 1994. By 2003, spending was up to $94.3 billion (there is no comparable number for Europe), with 57 percent... MORE

BMI: Lessons from D&D

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A lot of social scientists are now interested in the effects of the BMI, or Body Mass Index. In the metric system, your BMI is equal to your weight in kg divided by your height in meters squared. If you... MORE

Presenting Health Statistics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Darshak Sanghavi writes A 31 percent reduction in heart attacks, after all, seems impressive. Yet this pervasive way of describing clinical trials in medical journals—focusing on the "relative risk," in this case of heart attack—powerfully exaggerates the benefits of drugs... MORE

Do We Spend Too Little on Health Care?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From an article in The New York Times. In 1950, the country spent less than $100 a year — or $500 in today’s dollars — on the average person’s medical care, compared with almost $6,000 now, notes David M. Cutler...... MORE

Health Care Misinformation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Your tax dollars helped to fund something called the Citizens Health Care Working Group, which produced this report. Americans clearly want a system that guarantees health care for everyone. The most important considerations expressed focused on people having access to... MORE

Paul Krugman Hearts Medicare

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
According to Mark Thoma, Krugman writes, Medicare, which is a universal health insurance program for older Americans, spends less than 2 cents of every dollar on administrative costs, leaving 98 cents to pay for medical care. By contrast, private insurance... MORE

Another COA Review

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Sally Pipes writes, For a fresh analysis of health care, people ought to look to economist Arnold Kling’s new book, Crisis of Abundance. Although it offers no easy villain-versus-hero narrative or solution to the challenges of funding health care, it... MORE

The COA Club

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Harvard Medical School Professor Jerry Avorn writes, In a program financed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, called the Independent Drug Information Service, we scan the medical literature for the best evidence on how to treat a given medical problem (like... MORE

I Bargained with a Dentist

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Today I successfully bargained down my dentist. In the end, I got 20% off the price of a service I really didn't want in the first place. (Why was I there in the first place? The service I didn't want... MORE

CoA Review

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Arnold Relman, who is no friend of market-oriented health care policy, nonetheless gives a kind review to Crisis of Abundance in the New England Journal of Medicine. The review is behind a subscriber wall, but excerpts can be found here... MORE

Government's Role in Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In my opinion, Greg Mankiw did not quite nail the problem with this article by David Wessel, who writes, The theory: Give consumers more information, let them choose the best provider and the resulting competition will help to squeeze out... MORE

Determinants of Mortality

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In the latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, David Cutler, Angus Deaton, and Adriana Lleras-Muney write, The argument for the role of public health in reduced mortality is made most prominently by Samuel Preston (1975, 1980, 1996). If... MORE

Tax Reform

Tax Reform
Arnold Kling
Sebastian Mallaby writes, The same argument holds for tax incentives to buy health insurance. Just over a quarter of this subsidy is swallowed by households in the $100,000-plus bracket; far from promoting the wider dissemination of health insurance, it may... MORE

Health Care and Cost-Effectiveness

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports on a recent paper by Harvard's David Cutler and two co-authors. The study calculated, however, that Americans of all ages spent an average of $19,900 on medical care for each extra year of life expectancy... MORE

Government-funded Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Maggie Mahar writes, it turns out that taxpayers bankroll 51 percent of the nation's $2 trillion health care bill: this includes paying for private insurance for public employees (accounting for 6 percent of total health care spending), Medicare (17 percent... MORE

Preference-for-Ignorance Watch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, in this small, aging industrial city in northeast Ohio, doctors are much more likely than those anywhere else in the country to steer patients toward angioplasty ...Whether the preference for angioplasty is good for the... MORE

Preferring Ignorance

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
My latest essay says, Imagine what might happen if one were to run a controlled experiment, pooling a group of students and randomly assigning them to different schools. Would the "good" suburban school really do better than the "failing" urban... MORE

Medicare and Health Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
MIT's Amy Finkelstein argues that (a) much of the increased use of technology in American medicine (what I term "premium medicine" in Crisis of Abundance) has been induced by Medicare, which reduced out-of-pocket costs and thereby increased the demand for... MORE

CoA Live

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
On August 29th at noon, join me at Cato for lunch and a discussion of Crisis of Abundance. Sebastian Mallaby a Washington Post columnist, and Jason Furman, a Democratic wonk, are scheduled to be on the panel.... MORE

Health, Education, and Causality

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen recommends a paper by David M. Cutler and Adriana Leras-Mooney on the effect of education on health. The obvious economic explanations – education is related to income or occupational choice – explain only a part of the education... MORE

Healthy Transcript

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From my talk a couple months ago on the Massachusetts health care plan. As I said afterwards, I was unusually fluid in this presentation. My talk begins on p. 28 of the transcript. An excerpt: If you were to deregulate... MORE

Physician, consult an economist.

Economics of Health Care
Eric Crampton
A recent paper in Social Science & Medicine makes me wonder whether editorial boards of health journals ever bother including economists as referees. In Shifting dollars, saving lives (working paper version for those without subscriptions), Kiwi public health profs Blakely... MORE

The Kotlikoff Budget Plan

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Laurence J. Kotlikoff writes, the U.S. government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments... MORE

Medical Technology

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Glenn Reynolds asks for my comments on a book by Andy Kessler. I'll pass on that, but speak to the general thesis that medical technology will advance rapidly in the coming years. I am generally optimistic about medical technology, but... MORE

Expect to Live Longer than Your Life Expectancy

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've long thought that life expectancy statistics were odd. Encyclopedias treat nation's life expectancies as numbers on par with square mileage. But in reality, doesn't this require a bunch of assumptions about future health developments? At least according to Wikipedia,... MORE

If Medicare were a Country...

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Christian Hagist write, European critics of the U.S. health care system often focus on the private provision of health care and health insurance. Yet the more important difference between the United States and other developed countries... MORE

Jason Furman x 2

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I had never heard of Jason Furman until today, when I encountered him twice. First, he shows up on Greg Mankiw's blog, where Greg touts this paper. In fact, if we turned our irrational health tax subsidies right-side up–by curbing... MORE

Interviewed on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I spoke here. one of the recommendations in the book -- and this is probably unusual from a libertarian perspective -- is that the government charter some kind of commissions analogous to what the UK has called their "National Institute... MORE

My Case for Single-Payer Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In an op-ed picked up by the Providence Journal, I write, I am not among the many who believe that single-payer health care is the best solution. However, I think that an experiment with single-payer coverage [by a single state]... MORE

My Rejoinder to Michael Tanner

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Cato's Michael Tanner writes, There is no doubt that Americans spend more on health care than any other country. But why is that necessarily a bad thing? There is no “right” amount to spend on health care or anything else.... MORE

A Fundamental Health Care Issue

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I call it the health gap. I wanted to believe (A), that American health care actually is more effective than international comparisons of longevity would suggest. ...Many people would like to believe (B), that Americans could receive the same health... MORE

CoA Watch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My reader-blogger Joe Kristan spots this WSJ story Interest is growing in the digital version of the breast-cancer screening test, driven in part by a study last fall in the New England Journal of Medicine that said digital was better... MORE

Strong Mind, Strong Body: IQ and Health

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The ancient Greeks glorified "a strong mind in a strong body." A neat article by Linda Gottfredson, "Intelligence: Is It the Epidemiologists’ Elusive 'Fundamental Cause' of Social Class Inequalities in Health?" (2004. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 86(1): 174–199)... MORE

Another Reason I Will Never Retire

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
According to a study that "account[s] for biases due to unobserved selection and endogeneity," retirement really is bad for your health. Just as I suspected. (Next I'd like to see a study confirming the obvious fact that retirement leads to... MORE

Reminder--Tuesday on Capitol Hill

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
If you want the definitive word on the Massachusetts Health Care reform, be sure to attend this event at the Rayburn Building at noon on Tuesday, May 23.... MORE

A Sudden Outbreak of Greed

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok writes On its face, price gouging is a peculiar explanation for recent increases in insurance premiums. Is greed new to the world? Were insurance companies followers of Mother Teresa just a few years ago? If greed and gouging... MORE

CoA Alert

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
As long as I'm creating an alert for Bryan's book, I might as well create one for Crisis of Abundance, which is an essential resource for anyone interested in health care policy and, with birthdays and graduations coming up, makes... MORE

I'll Be Debating Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
At this Cato-sponsored event on Tuesday, May 23rd, at noon on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, my book could use more reviews at Amazon. If you've actually read it, then weigh in. But don't use your review as a way to voice... MORE

A Hansonist MD

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Nortin Hadler is not your typical MD, as this interview indicates. I think bypass surgery belongs in the medical archives. There are only two reasons you’d ever want to do it: one, to save lives, the other to improve symptoms.... MORE

My Book Commercial

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
is here. I should start by saying that the book does not contain a single major policy recommendation that is politically palatable today. That fact will greatly limit its appeal to most Washington wonks. To gauge their reaction to Crisis... MORE

Kling Interview

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I'm interviewed over at Catallarchy. The main topic is Crisis of Abundance, but the interview ranges over a number of topics. Some of the questions include, Where does your interest in economics come from? What do you like most about... MORE

Cross-posting

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I have posting priveleges at the new Cato blog. Not sure how much I'll use them--it's not easy to do two blogs at once. But I wanted to point to this post, where I let off quite a bit of... MORE

Health Outcomes vs. Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A New York Times story says, Americans 55 and over are much sicker than their British counterparts even though the United States spends more than twice as much per person on health care as Britain, researchers said Tuesday. ...The researchers... MORE

Health Insurance Regulatory Crisis

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Republicans John Shadegg and Jim DeMint write, In the past 30 years, state governments have instituted more than 1,500 mandated benefits. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, these mandates have increased the cost of individual health insurance by... MORE

Universal Health Coverage

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Is universal health care coverage possible? Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review says nay. If you can't get an operation because your country's national health insurance system has you on a long waiting list, in what sense have you enjoyed "universal... MORE

Romney and Kling on Massachusetts Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In response to an op-ed by the Massachusetts governor in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, I write, These are the "near-poor," who are portrayed by the Governor as an oppressed class who badly needs support from the state. "We needed far... MORE

Mass Health Care, Left and Right

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Here is a Leftist critique of the new Massachusetts health care plan. the linchpin of the plan is the false assumption that uninsured people will be able to find affordable health plans. A typical group policy in Massachusetts costs about... MORE

AIDS in Africa: Too Bad to Be True

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've long been skeptical of the statistics for AIDS in Africa. The whole story had a quasi-Soviet flavor to it. The main difference: Soviet growth statistics were too good to be true, while African AIDS statistics were too bad to... MORE

Mass Delusion on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In today's Wall Street Journal, the author of a new book on health care policy writes (subscription required--free version here), The elected leaders of Massachusetts have come up with a novel solution for the vexing problem of paying for health... MORE

Single-Payer vs. Socialism

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezra Klein writes, Once and slowly: Medicare operates within America's private health system context, bargaining with private providers at near-market rates. It's new drug plan is entirely operated through private insurers, and Medicare as a centralized market isn't allowed to... MORE

Medicare is Part of the Problem

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
One of my essays on health care. suppose that the goal of health care reform is to reduce our health care budget to the level that would prevail if our per capita health care spending were the same as in... MORE

Massachusetts Health "Plan"

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I don't know exactly what the legislators of Massachusetts voted for, and I suspect that neither do they. Here is the story. The measure does not call for new taxes, but would require businesses that do not offer insurance to... MORE

Should I Take to Drink?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I'm the kind of patient who tries doctors' patience. A memorable check-up from a few years ago (before Robin Hanson convinced me they were a waste of time): Doc: Do you smoke? Me: No. Doc: Do you drink? Me: No.... MORE

Health Care Live and in Concert

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
On Wednesday, March 29th, if you're a Capitol Hill type, you can hear me at a live gig at noon. B-339 Rayburn. Topic is health care policy. And if you thought that George Mason taking on U-Conn was tough, see... MORE

The Jane Galt Health Plan

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In the last of a good series of posts on health care, she writes, Have the government pay for all health care expenditures above 15% of adjusted gross income, and cover 100% of health care expenditures by people living under... MORE

Health Care Spending

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A blogger writes, Yes, yes, hindsight is 20/20. But the fact that the patient started to improve clinically within about 4 days of her inpatient hospital course (and with that, essentially showed us that she had mono, not lymphoma) makes... MORE

Libertarian Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson writes, I believe that the state’s grant of monopoly privelege to certain official certifying agencies has a lot do do with the high cost of health care. Besides creating artificial scarcity (and therefore huge rents for M.D.s), the... MORE

Slate Produces Two Good Columns

Social Security
Arnold Kling
William Saletan writes, The point of Social Security was to subsidize those who couldn't work, not those who could. The program's founding document said it would support old people who were "dependent," "beyond the productive period" and "without means of... MORE

More on Krugman and Wells

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I write, They argue that eventually we will need government rationing of health care. But they say that this issue can be deferred, because in the short run the shift to a government-run health care finance system would save enough... MORE

Great Minds on Health Care?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Clive Crook writes, Citizens everywhere desire unrestricted access to state-of-the-art technologies. Increasingly, they insist on choice and control, too. Yet they are unwilling to pay what those things cost. People demand as a right the best health care money can... MORE

Socialized Medicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Paul Krugman and Robin Wells write, If US politicians could be persuaded of the advantages of a public health insurance system, the next step would be to convince them of the virtues, in at least some cases, of honest-to-God socialized... MORE

Health Care Op-Eds

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In the San Francisco Chronicle, one by your truly. Those of us who propose market-oriented health-care reform need to spell out what this will mean for consumers -- how it will increase their responsibility to study the costs and benefits... MORE

Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The 2006 Economic Report of the President is available, and the first chapter I turned to was the one on health care. The rising costs of health care are reflected in premiums (employer plus employee share) for employer-provided insurance that... MORE

Health Savings Accounts

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Sebastian Mallaby writes, Even if the administration were determined to shelter out-of-pocket payments using health savings accounts, why make them so generous? It proposes both a tax deduction and a tax credit when money goes into the accounts; savings would... MORE

Decline in Cancer Deaths

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, The number of cancer deaths in the United States has dropped slightly, the first decline in more than 70 years, the American Cancer Society is reporting today... The decline occurred in 2003, the latest year... MORE

Samwick, Thoma, and Pearlstein on Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Here are a couple of new pieces on health care policy, with my comments.... MORE

Posner on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Richard Posner has some very iconoclastic proposals to reduce excessive spending on health care.... MORE

The Veterans Administration Model

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen and Brad DeLong cite a recent Paul Krugman column that praised VHA health care. I think that it's wonderful that the VHA, which used to be administered poorly, has gotten better. But I am not ready to jump... MORE

No Perfect Health Care System

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Robert J. Samuelson writes, Americans generally want their health care system to do three things: (1) provide needed care to all people, regardless of income; (2) maintain our freedom to pick doctors and their freedom to recommend the best care... MORE

A Diabetes Legend

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay For me, it is a bit difficult to credit the notion that insurance companies induce people to choose foot amputations over preventive visits to podiatrists. Even if the podiatrist visit is not covered by insurance, it... MORE

Giffen's Paradox of Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
If you thought that Bush economics was an oxymoron before, wait until you read this morning's lead story in the Washington Post. President Bush will propose that Americans be allowed to take tax deductions on more of their out-of pocket... MORE

Maryland, Wal-Mart, and Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
As the New York Times puts it, The Maryland legislature passed a law Thursday that would require Wal-Mart Stores to increase spending on employee health insurance, a measure that is expected to be a model for other states. Economics says... MORE

Milton Friedman Sparring

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Robert Kuttner attempts to debate Milton Friedman MF: ...in the case of medicine, I would really like to see, and I wish I were competent myself to do it myself, a comparative study between dentistry and medicine. RK: But dentistry... MORE

Would a Cancer Vaccine Pay?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
One of my favorite web sites, Edge.org, recently posed a question to famous thinkers: What is Your Most Dangerous Idea?. There are many interesting ideas on a variety of topics. Paul Ewald said that it may be possible to find... MORE

Why is Nationalized Health Care Popular?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Gary M C Shiu asks The real puzzle is: If national health care is indeed that "inefficient" as Arnold claimed. Why is it so prevalent across the world, and why it is so difficult to get rid of? I don't... MORE

Health Care Rationing

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma reports that Paul Krugman writes, the rise of medical technology ... makes ... medicine ... in which doctors call for every procedure that might be of medical benefit, increasingly expensive. This is the position that I arrived at... MORE

The Real Cause of Market Failure in Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I write, What we are left with, then, is that people do not want real health insurance. I would gladly take a health insurance policy with a $10,000 deductible per individual, and I suspect that many of my wise, risk-averse... MORE

A Glacial Rate Isn't Bad

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
We're gaining a point of subjective health every 333 years. But on second thought, that's not so bad. Another way to express the same fact is to say that we are aging by only 9.5 months every year.... MORE

Objective Facts About Subjective Health

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Lately economists have gotten awfully interested in subjective well-being, popularly known as "happiness." (Here's my take; here's Arnold's; and don't neglect Will Wilkinson's blog on the subject). And of course economists have long been interested in health - trying to... MORE

Wrong State for Market-Based Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My latest essay is now out from behind the subscription wall in the Weekly Standard. Massachusetts is considering health insurance reform to address the problems of the uninsured. The federal government is pressuring the state to do something or lose... MORE

Are health economists naughty or NICE?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The lead story in today's Wall Street Journal reports If a treatment helps people, should governments and private insurers pay for it without question? Or should they first measure the benefit against the cost, and only pay if the cost-benefit... MORE

Future of Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Donald Moran writes, As private insurance thins out toward a more catastrophic form, however, this dynamic can be expected to change, in two ways. First, facing a much larger share of the first-dollar cost of expensive therapies, patients will be... MORE

James Hamilton on the Great Race

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
He writes If Medicare and Medicaid spending continue to grow 3.1% faster than GDP, by 2150 the federal government would consume 370% of GDP. Hold on a sec. (See also, Robert J. Samuelson on AARP's America Is a Mirage)... MORE

Is Private Health Insurance Impossible?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma channels Paul Krugman. It's nice to have Paul Krugman discuss a question that has been addressed repeatedly at this site, market failure in the provision of health and social insurance due to moral hazard and adverse selection This... MORE

Mandatory Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Boston Globe reports, Rhetoric surrounding the healthcare debate in Massachusetts has been largely shaped by plans to extend coverage to the poor. But two of the major initiatives under consideration by the Legislature would also, for the first time,... MORE

Health Care is Zero-Sum?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Kevin Drum writes The bottom line is that if HSAs are a better deal for healthy people, then inevitably they're a worse deal for sick people. And if you take healthcare seriously, it's sick people you should be concerned about.... MORE

The Incidence of Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I recapitulate some basic economics in my latest essay. American firms will not become more competitive by shedding health care costs, unless in the process they can reduce the net compensation paid to workers. Cutting health insurance benefits and raising... MORE

Health Care Documentary

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
This documentary attempts to make vivid the weakness of the Canadian health care system. It begins by showing how attached Canadians are to the principle of government-provided health care, but then exposes the consequences in terms of waiting times, suffering,... MORE

Licensing Rents

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Morris M. Kleiner writes, Even in the 1950s, licensing covered less than 5% of the American workforce. Now more than 20% of the U.S. workforce is covered by state licensing laws...prices in regulated occupations have increased more--and the earnings of... MORE

The Sensible Knave's newborn daughter was born a couple months early. But not only is she doing well, she's giving her dad some thought-provoking ideas about international health comparisons. The highlight: In a tragic sort of way, inferior prenatal care... MORE

Tyler Cowen's Tight Constraints

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen suggests four problems for policy research to solve. In several cases, his constraints on the solution are significant. For example, he wants to see A good health care plan that is practical, not too far from politically feasible,... MORE

Grey-area Medicine and Non-monetary Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Another installment in my continuing attempt to fight Gladwellian nonsense and to defend the use of economics in health care policy: Most people do not like to go to the doctor, undergo medical procedures, or stay in the hospital. Medical... MORE

Hard Heads, Soft Hearts

Social Security
Arnold Kling
Niall Ferguson and Laurence J. Kotlikoff, writing in The New Republic (subscription required), propose to tackle the fiscal mess three ways. First, they suggest replacing existing Federal taxes (personal income, corporate income, payroll, and estate) with a consumption tax that... MORE

Did Gladwell Libel Economists?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I think so. Gladwell tries to simultaneously argue two points, which are mutually contradictory. 1) People have to obtain health care, so that raising the cost to them will not reduce their demand. Therefore, insulating them from the cost of... MORE

Health Policy Prescriptions

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Malcolm Gladwell writes, People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury. It isn’t, of course. He argues that because... MORE

Health Care in California: Sick from Economic Illiteracy

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The symptoms: Rapidly rising medical costs and lots of wasteful treatment. The treatment: Crack down health savings accounts! That's the quality of reasoning you get from California's Insurance Commissioner Garamendi. This critique from Richard Ralston of Americans for Free Choice... MORE

Which Doctors Should You Fear?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Some doctors keep abreast of the latest medical research. Others keep practicing the medicine they learned thirty years ago. We should all prefer the first kind, right? An interesting post by Russ Roberts on the accuracy of medical research has... MORE

Health Care Corruption

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Stephen Cha attacks the pharmaceutical industry's practice of showering gifts on physicians. Food, trinkets, pens and coffee mugs were being handed out to the whole office staff, about 20 people including med students and doctors -- all courtesy of Merck... MORE

Professors for Drugs

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok wants the freedom to buy drugs without having to beg a doctor's permission, and I couldn't agree more. When I mentally review my last five doctor's visits, virtually the sole benefit I got was access to a drug... MORE

Critical Care Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal reports on a new form of health insurance. The illnesses covered under the policies vary. Policies typically insure for certain forms of cancer, heart disease and stroke, but some cover a far longer list of ailments,... MORE

Hospital Infections: a Point for Hanson

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
This news story reports, Hospitals in Pennsylvania are underreporting a serious infection problem that, by their estimates, last year sickened 11,668, killed 1,793 and added $2 billion to the bill. ... Charles Inlander, a local consumer advocate and member of... MORE

Is Health Care Worth It, Con't

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Following up on Bryan's post, a couple of points. He quotes Robin Hanson to the effect that a RAND study found that people who reduced health care spending by 25 or 30 percent showed little benefits, although "Blood pressure may... MORE

Three Last Gasps on Health Economics

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've been meaning to reply to Trent McBride and Tyler Cowen (see here and here) on my doubts about the effects of medicine on health. McBride poses three challenges: Challenge #1: Don’t you have to recognize the non-mortality benefits of... MORE

Acting "As If" Hanson's Right

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Last week I went to the doctor for an ear infection. Did I die from the hypocrisy? No, I knew from childhood experience that ear infections are one of the few things doctors can easily cure. Of course, my first... MORE

Who has Socialized Medicine?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Nick Weininger wonders In debates about health care it is often assumed by all sides that the US has the least socialist, most free-market health care system of any modern developed country... But is that premise true? ...It seems clear... MORE

Calling Dr. Econ

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A doctor weighs in at Catallarchy on my debate with Arnold. He's got some good questions for us at the end, which I hope to answer during the course of the week.... MORE

Healthy Debate

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Arnold makes me want to be a little more careful about my position on health care. By way of background, I'll admit that I get most of this from Robin Hanson. But I was so incredulous when I first started... MORE

Measuring Health Care Effectiveness

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Co-blogger Bryan and I have been arguing over two issues, one substantive and one methodological Substantive issue: I say that health care probably is effective. He says that there is no evidence that it is effective on average. Incidentally, Paul... MORE

Health Care Administrative Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I argue that improving cost-effectiveness of health care may require higher administrative expenses. How can suppliers be incented to balance costs and benefits in choosing treatment plans? One solution is to study the results of different treatment... MORE

From 0 to 50 Trillion in Two Weeks

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Two weeks ago I pointed readers toward evidence that the value of health care is small. Now Arnold cites Murphy and Topel claiming that the present value of a cure for cancer is $50 trillion. What gives? Here's what my... MORE

Krugman Comes Out

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Paul Krugman writes, I like Ted Kennedy's slogan "Medicare for all." It reminds voters that America already has a highly successful, popular single-payer program, albeit only for the elderly. So that is Paul Krugman's health care plan. Medicare for all.... MORE

Benefits of Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Kevin Murphy and Robert Topel write, From 1970 to 2000 gains in life expectancy added about $3.2 trillion per year to national wealth, with half of these gains due to progress against heart disease alone. Looking ahead, we estimate that... MORE

Health Care Commentaries

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Steven Pearlstein writes, For most Americans, providing health care ought to be different from selling soap; they won't tolerate doctors acting like commissioned salesmen and investment bankers. And if that means having less market competition and more regulation in the... MORE

Krugman's Got a Point, But I've Got a Better One

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Arnold Kling remarks: All I can think of is the public digesting Paul Krugman's argument that we spend more money on health care than countries with socialized medicine, we have the same longevity as those countries, therefore socialized medicine is... MORE

Medical Guidelines Commission?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I write the effectiveness of activist medicine can only be judged in a statistical sense. To know whether the procedures were appropriate, you have to know the distribution of outcomes that occurred when those procedures were used... MORE

Deadly Medicine and Youthful Rebellion

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Robin Hanson introduced me to contrarian research on both health and the family. The orthodox views, of course, are that medicine is the primary cause for rising life expectancy, and good parenting is the primary cause of happy,... MORE

Colonoscopies Cost-Effective?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I write If you obtain a colonoscopy every five years, starting at age 50, then between age 50 and age 75 you will have 6 colonoscopies. Dr. Arai, quoted above, gives a range of $500 to $1000... MORE

Computerized Medical Records

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Can politicians improve the efficiency of health care by pushing computerized medical records? I raise questions. The bank owns the data in my checking account because my bank is involved in every transaction that changes my balance. There is no... MORE

Influencing Longevity--"flat of the curve?"

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In a review of Robert Fogel's Escape from Hunger, Angus Deaton writes, Today, movements in life expectancy in rich countries are driven by trends in chronic disease among those over 50—infant and maternal mortality rates are no longer important—so that,... MORE

More on Activist Medicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
About the case I discussed earlier where a young woman received extensive services for eye inflammation, Ben England writes, Activist care in an academic setting is a little different than activist care in general. To be trained as a physician... MORE

crisis of abundance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
After looking at health care data for a long time, my point of view on our system is expressed in this essay. I define activist medicine as procedures, treatments, and consultations that have a low probability of affecting the outcome.... MORE

Questioning Medical Privacy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Richard Posner writes, The second motive for privacy, however—the desire to conceal discreditable facts—is more questionable from a social standpoint. In order to make advantageous transactions, both personal (such as dating or marriage or being named in a relative’s will)... MORE

Health Care and the Poor

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I look at some data. The United States spends more on the average poor person than [other advanced] countries spend on the average person. In fact, the MEPS data understate spending in the United States, in part,... MORE

Don't Clean That Plate

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Economists have been joining the bandwagon against obesity. Part of me suspects that this is one of those problems that feels worse if people talk about it. The more people lament obesity, the more unaesthetically obese people I notice. Every... MORE

Probability and Medicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Richard Friedman writes, The truth is that random events can make or break us. It is more comforting to believe in the power of hard work and merit than to think that probability reigns not only in the casino but... MORE

Costs, Benefits, and Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I do the arithmetic. Suppose that a medical test costs $1000, and 98 percent of the time it fails to turn up anything that would affect treatment. The other 2 percent of the time, it results in a treatment choice... MORE

International Health Care Comparisons

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write, One way to sort this out would be to conduct a statistically valid comparison of fetal survival rates across countries. In each country to be studied, take a random sample of pregnancies that are... MORE

Health Insurance Puzzle

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write, Ask an economist what is the best type of health insurance, and he or she is likely to respond "catastrophic coverage." ...In practice, we observe very little catastrophic coverage. Instead, the most widespread form... MORE

Health Care and Real Wages

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Terry Lierman, the Chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, forwarded me a link to an article in the Los Angeles Times about declining real wages. With benefits factored in, workers' total compensation did outpace inflation in 2004, even if they... MORE

Health Insurance Administrative Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I suggest how health insurance administrative costs could be reduced. A management consultant would recommend eliminating unnecessary interfaces. For example, you could eliminate state regulators and employers from the insurance process. Having 51 different sets of state... MORE

Health Care Waste, Continued

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Interesting comments from Roy Poses at Health Care Renewal. He, er, poses an interesting question. Outside of medicine, the price of technologies drop as they age. Admittedly, there have been many incremental improvements in CT scans, but there have been... MORE

Health Care Waste

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
How much of our health care spending is wasted? In this essay, I argue that the waste is less than many people believe. I do not believe that health-care reformers should be taken seriously when they suggest that spending on... MORE

Bleg: Terminal Health Care Spending

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
There are studies that reportedly show that a large share of health care spending comes in the last year of life. For example, this abstract gives a figure of 22 percent of total health care spending. (UPDATE: looking at the... MORE

Health Care Technocrat

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Doctors' prescriptions for health care tend to conflict with economists'. In this essay, I take on the proposals made in The New Republic by Dr. Arnold S. Relman. In a free market, consumer sovereignty and competition tend to create instability... MORE

David Cutler and Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A nice profile in the New York Times. To make coverage universal, Cutler advocates a $6,000 credit for poor families (and less, on a sliding scale, for others, tapering off to a small credit for people earning $50,000 and up).... MORE

Provider-Driven Health Care Regulation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Henry E. Jones, MD, writes, in the late 1990s HMOs throughout the State panicked at the prospect of losing their patients to Internet physicians. Pharmacists panicked at the prospect of Internet pharmacies taking their business. So the Medical Board of... MORE

Who Needs Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The self-employed are less likely to have health insurance than ordinary wage-earners. This may not be the bad thing that most Washington wonks assume it to be, according to a paper by Craig William Perry and Harvey Rosen. Perry and... MORE

Medicaid and Nursing Homes

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal describes what people will do in order to have Medicaid pay for nursing home care. Anyone can give away most of his assets and three years later become eligible for Medicaid with no questions asked. Or,... MORE

Third-party Payments and Vioxx

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Holman W. Jenkins writes, a University of Maryland study found that the more generous a patient's insurance, the more likely he was to be taking a Cox-2 -- and the less likely he was to need it. For the patients... MORE

Real Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Extending the remarks I made earlier, in my latest essay I look at a recent study of medical-related bankruptcies and conclude that cost-reimbursement health insurance is ineffective and should be replaced by event-based insurance. Event-based insurance means receiving a lump-sum... MORE

Becker and Posner vs. Medicare

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Richard Posner writes, As a matter of economic principle (and I think social justice as well), Medicare should be abolished. Then the principal government medical-payment program would be Medicaid, a means-based system of social insurance that is part of the... MORE

Health Care Celebrity Death-Match

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The latest Wall Street Journal blogger celebrity death-match features Russ Roberts and John Irons on health care. Here's Russ: Because of various government subsidies, out-of-pocket spending is a little more than 10% of total health spending (thanks to Alex Tabarrok... MORE

VA Hospitals as Quality Leaders

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
On the previous post, Spencer left a comment recommending an article by Phillip Longman on Veterans Administration hospitals, which it turns out over the past decade have improved quality in many areas relative to other medical care systems. suppose an... MORE

Health Care First-party Payments

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Andy Laperriere makes the case for Health Savings Accounts combined with high-deductible health insurance policies. more than 10% of the cost of a visit to the doctor -- $40 billion per year -- is wasted on paperwork. Most of these... MORE

Malpractice Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Richard Posner cautions against overstating the benefits of tort reform in health care. It is always important to distinguish between financial and real costs. Insofar as malpractice liability merely transfers wealth from physicians to (some) patients, aggregate costs are unaffected.... MORE

Lifespan Calculations

Social Security
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I discuss the esoteric but important topic of longevity calculations. How do we calculate the longevity of a person born in, say, 1950? The analogy would be to look at how many people born that year died... MORE

Bell Curve in Medical Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Atul Gawande writes, It used to be assumed that differences among hospitals or doctors in a particular specialty were generally insignificant. If you plotted a graph showing the results of all the centers treating cystic fibrosis--or any other disease, for... MORE

More on Medicaid

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jeffrey R. Brown and Amy Finkelstein write, At $135 billion annually, long-term care expenditures represent over 8.5 percent of total health expenditures for all ages, or roughly 1.2 percent of GDP... Private insurance reimburses only 4 percent of long-term care... MORE

Carnival of the Capitalists

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
On the blogroll to the left, you will find "Jay Solo: Carnival of the Capitalists," which is a collection of posts that comes out every Monday. This week's edition is unusually good. Don't miss it. One of the links I... MORE

Or is it Medicaid?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I was not aware of some of these statistics. Medicaid, the nation's largest health insurance program, is costing the states and the federal government more than $300 billion a year. The growth of the program, which covers the poor and... MORE

Information and Incentives

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Paul H. O'Neill writes Today, in many corners of even our most significant federal payment systems, we still pay clinicians and facilities for activity, not for the quality of the job they did for the patient. ...The federal government should... MORE

Tax Breaks vs. Subsidies

Tax Reform
Arnold Kling
Edward Lotterman writes, When or why should government use direct payments versus tax breaks? The answers are more political than economic. One skeptic has argued, "Politicians and economists have a love-hate relationship with tax breaks. Politicians love them and economists... MORE

Health Insurance Regulation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Radley Balko and Michael Cannon propose changes in health insurance regulation. Currently, many states require health insurers to charge the same premiums for any member of a group health plan, regardless of risk. This means that the costs of the... MORE

Subsidize Health Care to Cut Costs?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John F. Cogan, R. Glenn Hubbard, and Daniel P. Kessler argue that by broadening the health care tax subsidy to include personal spending (not just corporate spending), costs would go down. According to our calculations, based on research from the... MORE

Health Care Disintermediation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' William J. Wiatrowski reports on a decline in workers receiving employer-provided medical benefits over the past decade. Some of this reflects employee choice. In 1992-93, roughly 3 out of 4 private industry workers were offered... MORE

Health Care and Moral Values

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Dr. James J. Mongan writes, After 30 years of waging the battle for broader health insurance, I am convinced the debate over universal coverage is more about values than it is about specific plans. If the resources were made available,... MORE

Explaining Pharmaceutical Regulation

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
David Masten has a brilliant way of explaining the impact of regulation on the pharmaceutical industry. He imagines a world in which computers are regulated like pharmaceuticals. - the Electronics and Computers Administration would have just approved the Intel i486... MORE

Cost of Health Care Regulation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Christopher J. Conover has attempted to estimate the total cost imposed by legal and regulatory distortions of health care, by synthesizing previous studies of individual issues. The analysis suggests that the total cost of health services regulation exceeds $339.2 billion.... MORE

Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ron Bailey writes, we have a system skewed toward overuse by the haves and underuse by the have-nots, in which the healthiest people (highly paid employees) get the most generous health insurance. The Kaiser Commission reported that per capita spending... MORE

Drug Prices

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Can we lower drug costs by importing from Canada? Perhaps not, according to this story. Canadians must stop Americans from using Internet pharmacies to raid its medicine chest or face a drug shortage, a coalition of Canadian groups representing seniors,... MORE

Free-Market Health Care?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Could we have free-market health care? I suggest that it requires two reforms. On the demand side, I propose event reimbursement in health insurance instead of procedure reimbursement. On the supply side, I propose reputation systems instead of credential-based regulation.... MORE

health care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I attended this Cato forum on health care reform options. Speakers were Sally Pipes, John Goodman, Jeff Lemieux, and Robert Kuttner. A few notes: Best one-liner belonged to Kuttner: "The hardest job for a liberal is to defend the D.C.... MORE

Economics of Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I contend that what most people think of as health insurance is not technically insurance, but something else. An equivalent plan for restaurant meals would be that instead of paying for your meal, you would pay an... MORE

Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My latest essay on health care policy: I think it is useful to divide the health care issue into three areas: general wellness; acute care; and discretionary procedures. The problems and solutions differ by area. What I mean by general... MORE

Blaming Health Care Producers

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Are health care suppliers to blame for high health care costs in the United States? Uwe Reinhardt and others say yes. I am not convinced. The basis of this claim is somewhat weak, however. In health care, it is difficult... MORE

Nobel Laureates speak

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal asks a series of questions to a number of Nobel Laureates in economics. On one question, whether the global income distribution will be more equal 50 years from now, several of them say "yes," because they... MORE

Policy Specifics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I look at the specifics of the President Bush's economic proposals. Overall, I am afraid that the President's concept of the "ownership society" owes more to David Brooks than it does to Stephen Bainbridge. But the... MORE

Evaluating Health Care Systems

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
How can you tell whether one country's health care system works better than another? In this essay (read the whole thing), I talk about how not to make the comparison. Overall, I think that it is a mistake to define... MORE

Data Request: Health Care Spending

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Gerard F. Anderson, Uwe E. Reinhardt, Peter S. Hussey, and Varduhi Petrosyan write, the United States spends more on health care than any of the other OECD countries spend, without providing more services than the other countries do. This... MORE

Business and Health Care Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In an essay arguing against relying on linking health insurance with employment, I write If employers bear the cost of health insurance, then I'm the Easter Bunny. It is fairy-tale economics to believe that "nice" employers give away health insurance,... MORE

Health and Taxes

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In a rather disappointing conclusion to its series of editorials on economic policy, the Washington Post writes If all regions could emulate the most efficient fifth of the country, the cost of Medicare would fall by 30 percent. Enforcing efficiency... MORE

The Economics of Wage Labor

Cost-benefit Analysis
Michael Munger
by Michael Munger Guest Blogger An amazing study was released August 2 by the UCal-Berkeley Labor Center. The conclusion? Wal-mart costs California $86 million a year. The nefarious company does this by cruelly (wait for it) employing 44,000 Californians as... MORE

Physician Licensing

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Physician licensing is one of those issues where economics and ordinary intuition conflict. Most people believe that licensing serves to protect consumers from incompetent doctors. Economists worry that licensing is a form of supply restriction and rent-seeking. EconJournalWatch, a publication... MORE

Domestic Policy Issues

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I argue that on domestic policy, President Bush should focus on Social Security and health care. Our existing system was designed when reaching the age of 65 meant that your active life was probably over, and you were likely to... MORE

Medicare History

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
John Lanius points out that in April of 1961, then-private-citizen Ronald Reagan warned, The legislative chips are down. In the next few months Americans will decide whether or not this nation wants socialized medicine . . . first for its... MORE

Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My latest essay is on health care policy. America's health care system has many flaws. However, the solution is not to enlarge government's role. What I would like to see is a role for government in health care that is... MORE

Fogel Vs. Wonks

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Reading Robert Fogel's latest book, I noticed that he provided some simple but paternalistic proposals for health care. Robert Fogel says that we should stop thinking of the problem of poverty and health care as one of insurance and instead... MORE

Rational Decisions and Pharmaceutical Regulation

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Today's Washington Post contains another op-ed piece by a physician, and of course he is in favor of price controls on prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry will intone its familiar mantra: The cost of drugs is a relatively small percentage... MORE

Medicare Proposal

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Laurence Kotlikoff suggests this. All Medicare participants would receive individual-specific vouchers on October 1st of each year to purchase insurance coverage for the following calendar year. The size of the voucher would be based on the participant's current medical condition... MORE

Milton Friedman on health, education

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In an interview, Milton Friedman explains why shifting education and health care from the market to the government is inefficient. There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you... MORE

Health Insurance Idea

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes, now the Kerry campaign has dusted off and brought forward a very clever idea from Brandeis's Stuart Altman...Have the government take its task of social insurance seriously, and reinsure private insurers and HMOs: construct a 'premium rebate'... MORE

Why is Health Care Inefficient?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen raises a good question. Have you ever heard the claim that U.S. medical care is in trouble because we subsidize third-party insurance through the tax system? ...If the argument is that tax deductibility leads to too much health... MORE

"It's Their Fault"

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Nick Schultz cites work by Amir Attaran showing that drug company patents are not an obstacle to health care in poor countries--in fact, drug companies do not even bother to obtain patents in the poorest countries. Attaran's research concludes that... MORE

Health Care Productivity

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen has an interesting post on the comparison of the productivity of medical care in the U.S. vs. other countries. One brief excerpt: Americans pay more but get better health care in return. We die sooner because we eat... MORE

Consumer-driven Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Last night, I went to hear a talk by Regina E. Herzlinger, author of Consumer-driven Health Care. Her philosophy of health care is the opposite of the conventional wisdom that I derided in America is Crazy. The talk was given... MORE

The Health Care Market

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Do high health care costs in the United States prove that free-market health care does not work? Steve Verdon responds. The Medicare program subsidizes health care consumption for some of the largest consumers of health care dollars. When you subsidize... MORE

The High-Cost Producer

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok points out how government ends up paying too much for pharmaceuticals. in some areas, Medicaid accounts for a large fraction of the market...In this situation it makes sense for pharmaceutical companies to raise prices - they lose customers... MORE

Collective vs. Individual Benefits

Social Security
Arnold Kling
I have a new essay that argues that we over-estimate the value of collective benefits. Contrary to my training as an economist, I believe that at least some of the preference that workers have for in-kind benefits reflects flat-out irrationality.... MORE

Regulation and Industry Structure

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
Milton Friedman argues that the drug-approval process is the problem. On the drug side, what seems to me to be the most serious situation is the extent to which the Food and Drug Administration makes it extremely expensive to produce... MORE

Taxes and Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The Joint Economic Committee's health economist Tom Miller published a reminder of how our health insurance was system has been (mis-)shaped by tax considerations. Proponents of the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance contend that it provides the financial incentives... MORE

AARP rent-seeking

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I have not been following the prescription drug benefit bill closely enough to be able to provide a sound economic analysis. According to the Washington Post, I am not alone. This is an extremely expensive, 1,100-page bill that will have... MORE

Health Care Spending, Continued

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok finds evidence that supports more spending on health care. It has been estimated, for example, that increases in life expectancy from reductions in mortality due to cardiovascular disease over 1970-1990 has been worth over $30 trillion dollars -... MORE

Health Care Spending

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Business Week's Howard Gleckman successfully distinguishes between health care cost and health care spending. Medical technology is no different than consumer electronics. When DVD players cost $500, few people bought them, so total spending on the devices was insignificant. Now... MORE

Kotlikoff on Social Security

Social Security
Arnold Kling
Steve Verdon points to a speech by Laurence Kotlikoff with a plan for saving Social Security and Medicare. The Personal Security System 1. The accrual of additional Social Security retirement (OAI) benefits is eliminated. 2. Current retirees and current workers... MORE

Health Insurance Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Recent stories on an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance prompted a couple of essays on health insurance reform. Ronald Bailey writes, One way to increase the number of insured Americans is to break the link between... MORE

Various Articles

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
Posting here will be infrequent until later in October. Meanwhile, here are some links that may be of interest. Is the insecurity of Microsoft software an externality that should be regulated or taxed? An example of professional licensing as rent-seeking... MORE

Libertarian Redistribution

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
In an essay called Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism, I sketch a system for using a consumption tax with a negative-income-tax feature to replace government-provided health care, education, and income security. Does the bleeding-heart libertarian approach seem harsh? Actually, the Welfare State is... MORE

Canadian Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Pierre Lemieux discusses the distortions in measured costs under a socialized system. Criticizing an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that reports on lower administrative costs in Canada than in the United States, he writes, Canada's long waiting... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-08-20

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
This week I got some well-deserved pushback on a couple of posts. Peter Gallagher was not impressed with the story of robots and comparative advantage. (Update: Gallagher posted a new comment with a more favorable interpretation of the robot example.)... MORE

Benefits of Health Care Spending

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Does America spend too much on health care? Has health care been immune to productivity increases and contracted Baumol's cost disease? David Warsh has some answers. "cost disease" is mostly bunk — because it relies on measures of input prices... MORE

Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
The pundits seem to be more radical than the politicians these days. The Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein writes, First, in a rich country with an employer-based system, firms should have to provide a basic health insurance plan to all employees... MORE

Health Care Economics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Some recent articles on the economics of health care: Helen Levy and Thomas Deleire compare the expenditure patterns of people who have health insurance to those of people without health insurance. I think that this is a useful reminder that... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-06-25

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
On my criticism of a physician's proposal to cut prices for prescription drugs, Bruce Bartlett wrote, It would cut medical costs even more if we forced all doctors to work for the minimum wage. I used a similar analogy in... MORE

Quack Remedy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
If I were to attempt to practice medicine without a license, I could be prosecuted. On the other hand, there is nothing stopping a doctor from pronouncing himself an economic expert and recommending price controls. In today's Washington Post, physician... MORE

Drug Price Discrimination?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Derek Lowe compares the fact that prescription drugs cost less outside the U.S. to the phenomenon of price discrimination by airlines. Most consumers [of pharmaceuticals] in the US don't realize that they're subsidizing the lower prices for everyone else, whereas... MORE

Health Care Madness

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Why is health care regarded as something that the market cannot provide? In this essay, I argue that the problem is mental illness. Anyone who believes that we can afford collectively what we cannot afford individually is delusional... Suppose that... MORE

Economics of Obesity

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Obesity is getting increased attention from health policy experts and economists. Roger Bate writes, My analysis is preliminary and in any case proves nothing, but it is indicative that fast food has little to do with overall obesity rates. If... MORE

Sowell on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Thomas Sowell has an essay in three parts on the issue of universal health care coverage. In part one, he challenges politicians who continue to treat profits as evil, in spite of the superior performance of capitalism relative to socialism... MORE

Return to top