Tag: "Health Care Costs"

A Bill to Establish a Single-Payer Health System Advances in California

Capture47A bill has passed its first legislative hurdle to establish a government-run program of universal coverage in California. The California Senate Health Committee passed the measure 5-2. Next it will be debated by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The sticking point is how to fund such an endeavor.

Weak Idea at Bernie’s: Bureaucrats Should Not Negotiate Seniors’ Drug Prices

Capture14Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Elijah Cummings — along with a few other liberal Members of Congress — want to change the way Medicare purchases drugs for seniors. It is a popular talking point mainly because many Americans naively assume Medicare does not bargain over the price of drugs. Even President Trump has perpetuated the bogus idea that having the government negotiate the price of drugs would lower Medicare’s drug costs. This may sound appealing to many because drug makers don’t elicit much sympathy these days. Yet, seniors, drugmakers and taxpayers alike have a stake in the outcome because drug therapy is the most convenient and efficient way to care for patients.

Shopping for Health Care is Easier than You Realize

yuConventional wisdom holds that it is nearly impossible to compare prices for medical care like consumers do in other markets. It’s easier than you realize — my wife and I do it just about every time we see our doctors or fill a prescription. Health plan deductibles have nearly tripled over the past decade. Shopping for medical care is more important than ever.

Advice to the New FDA Commissioner

prescription-drug-shortageWriting in The Hill, Mercatus Senior Research Scholar Robert Graboyes discussed ways to boost the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s productivity.  He and coauthor Jordan Reimschisel discussed seven things the FDA could do to speed approval of drugs and medical devices.

Invisible High-Risk Pools

Five people waiting in waiting roomThere has been some discussions about invisible high-risk pools. That is a condition where the state assumes responsibility for some subset of sick enrollees’ high claims cost. For instance, Alaska began subsidizing the cost for a few individuals so the remaining 25,000 Alaska Obamacare enrollees would not be priced out of the market.

Propping Up Obamacare: Playing the (Bad) Hand You’re Dealt…

Caduceus with First-aid Kit --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Caduceus with First-aid Kit — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Obamacare is enrolling too many sick people and too few healthy ones to prevent a death spiral. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a unit of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), has proposed a new rule to stabilize the Obamacare markets for individual health insurance. This was the first rule issued since Dr. Tom Price was appointed HHS secretary. The proposed Market Stabilization rule includes a number of measures to prevent people from entering the market when sick and exiting when healthy.

House Obamacare Repeal Bill Limits HSAs for Millions of Americans

Hand Holding Cash ca. 1998

Hand Holding Cash ca. 1998

The House Republican American Health Care Act Managers Amendment would not allow Americans to use their tax credits to fund an HSA. Instead of using their tax credit/HSA to pay for doctor visits, prescriptions and OTC drugs, Americans will only be allowed to use their credit for insurance. This is a big mistake – and a giveaway to insurers. Millions more Americans would have an HSA if the proposed $2,000 to $4,000 tax credits were automatically deposited into individuals’ HSAs for use on health insurance premiums, copays, cost-sharing and paying for direct care.

CPI: Medical Price Hikes Match Inflation

BLSBoth the Consumer Price Index and the price index for medical care rose just 0.1 percent in February. This is the sixth month in a row we have enjoyed medical price relief in the CPI. Even prices of prescription drugs dropped by 0.2 percent. Some components – medical equipment and supplies, outpatient hospital services, and health insurance jumped a bit, but not enough to drive overall medical prices higher. Medical price inflation contributed nine percent of CPI for all items.

Over the last 12 months, however, medical prices have increased much more than non-medical prices: 3.5 percent versus 2.7 percent. Price changes for medical care contributed 11 percent of the overall increase in CPI.

More than six years after the Affordable Care Act was passed, consumers have not seen relief from high medical prices, which have increased over twice as much as the CPI less medical care since Obamacare took effect.

See Figures I, II, and Table I Below the fold:

PPI: Health Prices Mixed, Inflation Low

BLSFebruary’s Producer Price Index rose 0.3 percent. However, prices for many health goods and services grew slowly, if at all. Nine of the 16 price indices for health goods and services grew slower than their benchmarks.* Prices for medical lab and diagnostic imaging actually deflated in absolute terms.

Even  pharmaceutical preparations for final demand, for which prices increased most relative to their benchmark, increased by just 0.4 percent. Although 0.3 percentage points higher than the price change for final demand goods less food and energy (0.1 percent), this is still tame relative to the trend of pharmaceutical prices. Among services for final demand, only price for health insurance and nursing homes rose higher than their benchmark.

With respect to diagnosing whether health prices are under control, the February PPI is about as mixed as January’s was.

See Table I below the fold:

Medical Drug Tourism: An Odd Byproduct of High Drug Prices

Capture14On numerous occasions President Trump has lambasted drug companies for their high drug prices. He has suggested on more than one occasion Americans should be allowed to import medications from abroad where they are cheaper. Allowing private citizens to import their own drugs is a form of arbitrage. Arbitrage is when people are able to take advantage of discrepancies in prices in two different markets and bypass the higher prices by purchasing the lower-priced product in a cheaper market. For instance, you could argue that buying from Amazon is a form of arbitrage to avoid paying higher prices at your local brick & mortar store.