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Health Economics

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One of the most daunting challenges facing the new U.S. administration is health care reform. The size of the system, the number of stakeholders, and ever-rising costs make the problem seem almost intractable. But in Chaos and Organization in Health Care, two leading physicians offer an optimistic prognosis. In their frontline work as providers, Thomas Lee and James Mongan see the inefficiency, the missed opportunities, and the occasional harm that can result from the current system. The root cause of these problems, they argue, is chaos in the delivery of care.

Implications for Global Health

Disease eradication represents the ultimate in global equity and the definitive outcome of good public health practice. Thirty years ago, the elimination of smallpox defined disease eradication as a monumental global achievement with lasting benefits for society. Today, the global commitment to eradicate polio and guinea worm and heightened interest in the potential eradication of other infectious diseases, including measles/rubella, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and malaria, dominate public health concerns. But what does it take to eradicate a disease?

How to Reverse the Trend of Declining Birth Rates

In 2050, world population growth is predicted to come almost to a halt. Shortly thereafter it may well start to shrink. A major reason behind this shift is the fertility decline that has taken place in many developed countries. In this book, experts discuss the appropriateness and effectiveness of using public policy to influence fertility decisions.

Most experts would agree that the current medical malpractice system in the United States does not work effectively either to compensate victims fairly or prevent injuries caused by medical errors. Policy responses to a series of medical malpractice crises have not resulted in effective reform and have not altered the fundamental incentives of the stakeholders. In Medical Malpractice, economist Frank Sloan and lawyer Lindsey Chepke examine the U.S.

An Integrated Assessment Modeling Approach

The impact of climate change is widespread, affecting rich and poor countries and economies both large and small. Similarly, the study of climate change spans many disciplines, in both natural and social sciences. In environmental economics, leading methodologies include integrated assessment (IA) and game theoretic modeling, which, despite their common premises, seldom intersect.

A vast body of empirical evidence has accumulated demonstrating that incentives affect health care choices made by both consumers and suppliers of health care services. Decisions in health care are affected by many types of incentives, such as the rate of return pharmaceutical manufacturers expect on their investments in research and development, or disincentives, such as increases in copayments patients must make when they visit physicians or are admitted to hospitals.

Findings and Policy Implications

While human capital is a clear determinant of economic growth, only recently has health's role in this process become a focus of serious academic inquiry. By marrying the separate fields of health economics and growth theory, this groundbreaking book explores the explicit mechanisms by which a population's individual and collective health status affects a nation's economic development and performance.

The Health and Economic Damages of Air Pollution in China

China's historic economic expansion is driven by fossil fuels, which increase its emissions of both local air pollutants and greenhouse gases dramatically. Clearing the Air is an innovative, quantitative examination of the national damage caused by China's degraded air quality, conducted in a pathbreaking, interdisciplinary U.S.-China collaboration.

What does a pack of cigarettes cost a smoker, the smoker's family, and society? This longitudinal study on the private and social costs of smoking calculates that the cost of smoking to a 24-year-old woman smoker is $86,000 over a lifetime; for a 24-year-old male smoker the cost is $183,000. The total social cost of smoking over a lifetime—including both private costs to the smoker and costs imposed on others (including second-hand smoke and costs of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) —comes to $106,000 for a woman and $220,000 for a man.

A Health Care Conundrum

The health care industry differs from most other industries in that medical pricing is primarily administered by the government and private insurers and in that it uses several types of contracts. Providers may receive a fixed sum for all necessary services within a given period of time, for the necessary services to treat a given condition, or for each specific service. The industry is changing dramatically, offering many natural experiments to aid understanding of the economics of pricing for health care.

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