Focus on Health

Focus on Health

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In a September 9 column, Boston University health economist Austin Frakt suggested that significant budgetary savings could be achieved by making Medicare Advantage plans more competitive.

Also on September 9, the journal Health Affairs published new projections of national health care spending through 2019.

On September 8, the Congressional Budget Office published an issue brief on the impact of obesity on health care spending. It reports that in 2007, spending on obese adults was 38 percent higher than for those of normal weight.

On September 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report on cigarette smoking in America. It finds that in 2009, 20.6 percent of the population smoked and that smoking was most prevalent among the poor and those with little education.

On September 6, the journal Health Affairs posted several articles dealing with the problem of medical malpractice.

On September 2, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its annual survey of private health insurance coverage and costs. It finds that raising deductible payments is an increasingly common way of reducing employer health care costs, thus shifting more of the cost onto workers.

On August 24, economist Arnold Kling posted a paper on the history and development of the American health care system.

In an August 19 blog post, Boston University health analyst Austin Frakt was critical of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to convert Medicare into a voucher program. He argues that the experience with the Medicare Advantage program suggests that vouchers are a more expensive way of delivering Medicare benefits than the traditional fee-for-service system.

On August 16, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a study of health care spending in 1998, 2003, and 2008. Based on Consumer Expenditure Survey data, it found that household spending on medical care was unchanged overall, but that its composition had changed. More was spent on health insurance, less on out of pocket costs.

In an August study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, economists Melissa Boyle and Joanna Lahey find that providing older workers with health insurance not tied to their place of employment reduces the likelihood that they will work full time. However, better educated workers are more likely to become self-employed.

I last posted items on this topic on August 9.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Read his most recent column here. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.