Research Briefs and Snapshots

Did the Affordable Care Act Contain Costs?

Issue Brief
Feb. 20, 2020

The Affordable Care Act was designed to curb the growth of health care costs as it broadly expanded coverage. Through provider payment reductions, alternative payment models, and a commission to enforce growth targets, the ACA sought to rein in Medicare spending. Through a tax on high-cost employer plans and competition in individual marketplaces, it sought to influence spending in the private market as well. But a number of provisions were never implemented, limiting the ACA’s impact on costs. While statutory reductions in Medicare provider rates have slowed cost growth in Medicare, they are not likely to be sustainable in the long term. Changing the trajectory of cost growth remains a challenge for future reform efforts.

Revisiting CHIP Buy-In Programs for Children

Issue Brief
Feb. 14, 2020

States have a long history of providing families with the option to purchase Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for their children, but these programs have dwindled in recent years. In a February 2020 Health Affairs blog post, we review states’ experiences with buy-in programs for children, present updated information on the four remaining CHIP buy-in programs, and compare them to child-only coverage on the individual market. This document provides an overview of our findings.

Health Inequity in the United States: A Primer

Issue Brief
Jan. 6, 2020

By any measure, the United States has a level of health inequity rarely seen among developed nations. The roots of this inequity are deep and complex, and are a function of differences in income, education, race and segregation, and place. In this primer, we provide an overview of these distinctly American problems, and discuss programs and policies that might promote greater health equity in the population. 

 

Trends in Opioid Overdose Deaths After Auto Plant Closures

Dec. 30, 2019

Opioid overdose deaths have been called “deaths of despair” because of their possible connection to individual and community distress. This study looks at how proximity to auto plant closures — which represent large, traumatic, and culturally significant shocks to economic opportunity — affected opioid deaths among working age adults between 1999 and 2016.

Could a Public Health Insurance Option Lead to More Competitive Markets?

Issue Brief
Dec. 10, 2019

Calls for the establishment of a “public option,” which emerged during the debate on the Affordable Care Act, have reemerged in this election season. Some proposals base the public option on Medicare, while others on Medicaid. In this article, Wharton professor and LDI Senior Fellow Mark Pauly discusses the likely effects of a public option on private markets, using experience in Medicare Advantage as a guide. Will the public option become the preferred one, sweeping away the private market? Or can the public and private options peacefully coexist?  

Household Monthly Alcohol Purchases After Washington's Privatization of Liquor

Nov. 18, 2019

Thirteen states limit alcohol purchases to state-run stores. Washington was among these states until 2011, when voters passed Initiative 1183,
which privatized liquor sales and imposed taxes and fees on them. As a result, the number of retail sites increased dramatically, and the cost of
liquor went up. The authors compared the amount of alcohol purchased by households in Washington metropolitan areas to the amount purchased by households in 10 states that retained monopoly control of alcohol sales, before and after privatization.

Physician Consolidation and the Spread of Accountable Care Organizations

Research Brief
Nov. 4, 2019

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of physicians and hospitals that jointly contract to care for a patient population. ACO contracts incentivize coordination of care across providers. This can lead to greater consolidation of physician practices, which can in turn generate higher costs and lower quality. Given this, the study asks, as ACOs enter health care markets, do physician practices grow larger?

A National Comparison of Operative Outcomes of New and Experienced Surgeons

Research Brief
Oct. 25, 2019

In this national study, Medicare beneficiaries treated by new surgeons had poorer outcomes than those treated by experienced ones in the same hospitals. However, the type of operation and the patient’s emergency status – rather than physician inexperience – explains nearly all poorer outcomes. Higher-risk cases are disproportionately treated by new surgeons.

Long-Term Care Financing in the United States

Issue Brief
Oct. 11, 2019

In the United States, people who need long-term care (LTC) face a system with large gaps in care, which they must rely on friends and family to fill. Medicaid finances the majority of paid LTC, but people must exhaust their resources to qualify. Medicare and private health insurance do not cover LTC, and the private market for long-term care insurance is failing. Unpaid family and friends provide most long-term services, but the value of their services is rarely reflected in debates about LTC financing and delivery. Beyond the value of the services, this system has costs to the economy, as spouses and adult children reduce paid work to care for their loved ones. As the population ages and families are less able to shoulder the burden of LTC, the current system may be unable to meet the growing need without an alternative, sustainable financing mechanism.

Health Care Safety-Net Programs After The Affordable Care Act

Issue Brief
Oct. 1, 2019

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health care safety-net programs were the primary source of care for over 44 million uninsured people. While the ACA cut the number of uninsured substantially, about 30 million people remain uninsured, and many millions more are vulnerable to out-of-pocket costs beyond their resources. The need for the safety net remains, even as the distribution and types of need have shifted. This brief reviews the effects of the ACA on the funding and operation of safety-net institutions. It highlights the challenges and opportunities that health care reform presents to safety-net programs, and how they have adapted and evolved to continue to serve our most vulnerable residents.

Impact of Sweetened Beverage Tax on Chain Retailers in Philadelphia

Research Brief
Jul. 2, 2019

On January 1, 2017, Philadelphia became the second U.S. city to tax the distribution of sweetened beverages. The 1.5 cent per ounce tax applies to the distribution of sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages. Similar taxes have been passed in several other cities and are being considered at the state level. The authors examined the effect of the tax on beverage prices and sales at chain retail stores in Philadelphia.

Contributors to Post-injury Mental Health in Urban Black Men with Serious Injuries

Research Brief
Jun. 21, 2019

Factors over the life course affect the mental health of urban black men with serious injuries.  Childhood adversity, pre-injury physical and mental health conditions, and intentional injury (violence) are risk factors for post-injury depression and posttraumatic stress. Clinicians should expand assessment beyond the acute injury event to identify those patients at risk for poor mental health outcomes.

College Affirmative Action Bans and Health Risk Behaviors

Jun. 19, 2019

College affirmative action bans were associated with higher rates of smoking and drinking in underrepresented minority 11th and 12th graders, and these students continued to smoke at higher rates into young adulthood. Policymakers should consider unintended public health consequences of proposals, such as affirmative action bans, that may limit socioeconomic opportunities.

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