Testing, as a mainstay of an effective response to COVID-19, requires sufficient supply to meet the demand. However, since the pandemic hit the US, this has not been the case. While governments have focused on procuring and producing additional tests, researchers have focused on finding ways to make the tests we do have more efficient.
Insurance is a complex product, and choosing among different plans is a complex decision. As states and the federal government roll out health insurance exchanges, “choice architecture”—how options are presented—will affect what consumers choose. According to LDI Senior Fellow Amanda Starc, standardizing plans and information about plans can help consumers make better decisions.
In a new NBER working paper, Starc of Wharton and co-author Keith Marzilli Ericson of Boston University take advantage of a 2010 regulatory change in Massachusetts to assess whether standardizing information on the exchange changed consumer behavior. When the Massachusetts exchange launched in 2007, plans had latitude in designing their features, and were simply listed in ascending premium order. Six insurers offered a choice of 25 plans.
By the 2014 election, groups on both sides of the ACA debate will have spent close to $1 billion on advertising, with little change in public opinion. Sarah Gollust thinks she knows why, from her research on the messaging surrounding sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes.
The conditions surrounding the ACA — polarized public opinion, a competitive messaging environment, an imbalance of resources — also characterize the debates around SSB taxes. Gollust, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, has focused her research on the intersection of media, public opinion and health policy and spoke at a recent seminar at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.
A new study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Matthew McHugh documents that hospitals with larger nursing staffs had 24% lower odds of being penalized for excessive readmission rates for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, or pneumonia.
Previous research showed that hospitals can reduce readmissions by implementing evidence-based standards of care such as discharge preparation, care coordination, and patient education -- standards largely carried out by nursing staff.
All too often, the debate about expanding the role of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician’s assistants (PAs) takes place in a vacuum, as though these practitioners do not already deliver significant amounts of primary care. But they do, and existing evidence indicates that quality of care and patient satisfaction are good as a result.
The findings of a recent study documents the extensive experience and high level of satisfaction consumers already have with NPs and PAs, with 81 percent having seen a NP or PA for their care at some point in time, and 40 percent having seen one during their most recent medical care visit.
With the launch of health insurance marketplaces and the shutdown of the federal government, there hasn't been much attention paid to something else that happens this time of year: the start of flu season. Under normal circumstances, the CDC would be launching a campaign to encourage flu vaccinations. But these are not normal circumstances as evidenced in the latest CDC Flu tweet.
While flu season usually peaks in January or February, it can begin as early as October. Pharmacies and doctors' offices across the country are already offering this year's vaccine, which will inoculate against three strains of the virus, and the CDC recommends that vaccinations begin as early as possible since it can take up to two weeks for the immune system to build up resistance.
In just six days, the new Health Insurance Marketplaces will open their virtual doors and the next phase of implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin. The Obama Administration, recognizing that the ACA holds particular relevance for the LGBT community, recently held a briefing at the White House for LGBT leaders across the US. I attended and represented the new Penn Medicine Program for LGBT Health.
The sponsored ad on Facebook read: "If your age is 50-54, you can be approved for Social Security Disability benefits even if you are still able to perform sedentary work as long as your past work was not skilled or semi-skilled, or if you do not have transferable skills to other work. To learn more about the special rules that can make it easier to get approved for disability benefits over the age of 50, click below for a free evaluation by an experienced SSD advocate or attorney."
What the ad doesn’t mention is that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program won't be able to sustain itself much longer. Wharton Public Policy Institute Director Mark Duggan recently testified before Congress on SSDI's precarious financial condition.
In the journal Childhood Obesity, there’s a great interview with Philadelphia health officials about the city’s progress in reducing childhood obesity rates and in the racial/ethnic disparity in those rates. Deputy Mayor and Health Commissioner Don Schwarz and Giridhar Mallya, Director of Policy and Planning for the Department of Public Health, describe a broad initiative over the past 15 years that is notable for its success in a resource-poor environment.
What’s most striking about the Philadelphia experience is the cooperation among City departments and agencies that do not have the word “Health” in their name.
Last week’s article by Jon Skinner in the MIT Technology Review, "The Costly Paradox of Health-Care Technology" was an excellent synopsis of the unique and bizarre relationship between technology and the marketplace that exists in American medicine. Unlike almost any other sector of the economy, in health care new technology drives up costs while often providing little or no benefit.
Skinner compares this phenomenon to the costs and benefits of technology improvements in cars, pointing out that modern vehicles are markedly better than 25 years ago, yet are cheaper in real terms. I use a similar example with my students -- the personal computer I used during my early college years cost $5,000 in today's dollars, but now I can buy a computer for $1,000 that is, quite literally, thousands of times better.
The news from the latest ACO study in JAMA seemed good; not only could ACOs save money in commercially insured patients in Massachusetts, the savings were "contagious," spreading to non-ACO Medicare patients seen by the same providers. The Washington Post reported that "ACOs may actually be the unicorns we've been waiting for, spreading their cost-saving magic throughout the health system."
I spoke with LDI Senior Fellow Lawton R. Burns, Professor and Chair of the Health Care Management Department at Wharton, about the news. He says that unicorn is a mirage and the study report is misleading.
Life expectancy has been in the news lately. Over the summer, The New York Times summarized a new report from the CDC analyzing racial difference in life expectancy between U.S blacks and whites; last month, the OECD released comparative data between the U.S. and OECD countries. The U.S., which now ranks 51st in the world in life expectancy, was about at par with other OECD countries in the early 1990s, especially for females, but the other countries have created a big gap since.
The data tells us the relative contribution of certain demographics to the life expectancy gap, but don’t tell us why. And a recent Institute of Medicine report noted that the disparities in life expectancy within the U.S. are even larger than the cross-national differences, and may help explain why the U.S. compares so unfavorably with peer nations.
"How'm I doin?" Ed Koch, longtime mayor of New York City, would ask his constituency. "Am I doin’ all right?" Koch understood the importance of taking stock, assessing progress, and changing directions if need be.
The need for increasing the ethnic and racial diversity of our health services research workforce is unquestioned. A 2007 study documented a lack of diversity among health services researchers, a particularly important issue given the increasing diversity of the population. Many initiatives sprung up, including LDI’s Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) program