Welcome to the new section of our website which deals with the intersection between economics and medical issues.

At the practical level, it deals with resources useful in future medical issues dealing with the straightforward medical issues in injury cases calling for medications and associated periodic medical evaluations. At the other end of complexity, it deals with complex life care plan issues with the necessary medical evaluations, medical treatments, medications needed, palliative care such as physical and occupational therapies, special equipment needs including specialized transportation needs as well as attendant care needs. In all these cases, appropriately credentialed medical and life care plan expert opinions are needed. An economist is needed to determine the cost of these needs as well as projecting there costs over the period for which they are required. An economist also is needed to reduce these future amounts to their present money value taking into account the interest rates which can be obtained on risk-free investments.

These medical resources also deal with broader public policy issues on medical care which economists need to assess. These issues start with the fact that medical care now encompasses almost 20% of the American economy. In practical terms, the average American works most of the first day of each week to pay for the medical care they require. The amount required has taken a larger and larger share of the American paycheck. This contrasts remarkably with the experience in other developed economies which the percent of GNP devoted to medical care and the percent increase in the cost of medical care is lower than that in the U.S.

That is not to say that simplistic remedies such as to adopt their system of medical care in the U.S. Such simplistic remedies would amount to economic sophistry or jingoism. In Canada, for example, the percent of GNP devoted to medical care is lower and the percent increase in the cost of medical care is lower. It is simplistic to assume that a simple adoption of the Canadian model is appropriate. It is not. In America, we have our own set of institution and attitudes in which change must be made. We will give you links to articles which deal with some of those issues.

One beginning point is to look at research on areas of waste in the American medical system. One such research paper by Doyle, Graves & Gruber, "Uncovering Waste in U.S. Healthcare", deals with the discharge of persons to skilled nursing facilities where the longevity outcomes as well as the costs incurred are dismal.

Medical Care & Drug Prices:

  • Good Rx- look up and compare prescription drug prices then print out a coupon to take to your pharmacy.
  • Blink Health- Blink allows you to not only look up and compare prescription drug prices but you can actually pay for your prescriptions online and pick them up at your pharmacy.
  • Good Rx- look up and compare prescription drug prices.
  • Healthcare Blue Book - provides prices of medical procedures; e.g. lumbar spinal fusion $37,789 which includes $32,777 for the hospital for 6 days, $3,246 for the physician and $1,774 for anaesthesia.
  • My Florida Rx - another good resource for prices
  • Khanacademy.org - Helps you understand your medical bill by explaining how medical costs are calculated and paid for by public and private insurance in the following video:

Increasing Prices of Generic Drugs:

  • Generic drug prices are increasing at an alarming pace. According to an ABC News report, "Generic Drug Price Sticker Shock Prompts Probe by Congress", there has been an average increase of 448% in the price of over 1200 generic medications between July 2013 and July 2014 which has prompted a Congressional review.

  • "Generic drug prices Why their prices are suddenly surging" , an article written by Jeremy Greene at Slate.com, attempts to explain the economics involved in the jump in generic drug prices.

  • Relative Drug Cost - The following chart by Dave Jones, Ph.D., comparing the Real and Nominal annual rates of increase which shows how much of the increase in overall CPI is due to Prescription Drug increases.

    Chart
    (click on graph to enlarge)

Medical & Drug Reference/Statistical Materials:

  • MediLexicon- Dictionaries and other reference materials.
  • Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data - The CMS has some good price data on specific procedures. The data is separated into categories - Providers, Inpatient, Outpatient and Part D Prescriber. The lists are limited but still are pretty extensive. The Excel Spreadsheet is sortable by CPT code but also provides a description field that could be used to identify a particular service. The National data can be sorted by state; unfortunately, this will also eliminate some of the price data available.
  • Obamacare Facts - How the Employer Mandate Works
  • Uncovering Waste in US Healthcare - Research paper by Doyle, Graves and Gruber published by the National Bureau of Economic Research on March 20, 2015
  • What Ails The World - An article by Tina Rosenberg with links to charts and maps of Global data on various health-related and economic-related data by country. Click here to jump directly to the stunning slide show of the History of Improving Health around the World.

NY Times Articles

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