Health Economics

Tag: Health Economics

Alumni College Talk

Speaking of Professor Finkler, on Friday he will be giving a talk for the Alumni College.   Here are the particulars:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Care (aka Obamacare):
An Efficient and Equitable Path to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Health?

Professor Marty Finkler

Warch Campus Center Cinema
2:10-3:00 p.m.
Friday, June 17

Next Economics Colloquium, February 20

Health Care:  It Took Years to Build Up this Much Duct Tape

Travis Andersen
President, St. Elizabeth Hospital


Mr. Andersen will provide an overview of the U.S. health care system, including a brief history of the emergence of our current system, and where the system stands in terms of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  He will also discuss the emergent role of integrated-delivery systems, and how these systems shape provider incentives in terms of costs and quality, and the anticipated effects for patient outcomes. 


February 20
4:30 p.m.
Steitz Hall 102

The Economics of Obesity

I will be participating in the “Weight of the Fox Valley Summit” this week, ostensibly to talk about the economics of obesity.  Economists, of course, get their fingers in a lot of pies, and so this turns out to be a very broad ranging topic.  For example, this USDA Economic Research Service workshop includes topics from why have Americans become more obese to labor market impacts of obesity, to what you might expect — implications for health insurance and economic costs of obesity.

I haven’t published in this area, but I did spend a year working with colleagues and students at Carnegie Mellon on a database charting obesity in the American population, so I have some idea of the basic issues.  For those of you interested in an introduction, as always I recommend you go through the back issues of the Journal of Economic Perspectives to see what the profession has been up to.  As per usual, you don’t have to go back very far to find some work by some top scholars in the area:

Jay Bhattacharya and Neeraj Sood (2011) “Who Pays for Obesity,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 25(1): 139-158

David M. Cutler, Edward L. Glaeser, and Jesse M. Shapiro (2003) “Why Have Americans Become More Obese?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 17(3): 93-118.

Those should provide a reasonable, readable introduction to the economics literature on the topic, chock full of references to the primary research.

Another good source for a rough approximation is the EconTalk archive.  I learned a lot listening to Russ Roberts interview Darius Lakdawalla.  Here’s a nice cite on differential costs, with the surprising finding that the overweight and obese might actually live longer than “normal” weight folks, but spend a higher proportion of their years battling diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and osteoarthritis.   The authors estimate an additional $40,000 in lifetime medical expenses for the obese compared to someone with normal weight.  Here’s that cite:

Darius Lakdawalla, Dana Goldman, Baoping Shang, The Health And Cost Consequences Of Obesity Among The Future ElderlyHealth Affairs (2005)

Blooming entrepreneurship

If you’d like to find a shining example of an entrepreneur who is a Lawrentian (and an Economics major to boot), I suggest you google Abir Sen. The most recent news item that will show up is this Bloomberg report announcing that WellPoint, the largest insurer, is buying most of Bloom Health, which Abir founded and has been leading as CEO. Before this venture, he co-founded RedBrick Health, another innovative health care company. But wait, there is more. From the Bloom Health website:

Before co-founding RedBrick Health, Abir co-founded Definity Health and was part of the team that invented the Personal Care Account, the predecessor to the Health Savings Account. Abir has also worked as an advisor to Fidelity Investment’s Health and Welfare Business, where he helped launch Fidelity’s benefit consulting business. He began his career at Deloitte Consulting, where he advised large managed care organizations and integrated delivery systems on M&A and turnaround strategies.

Abir has a B.A. in Economics from Lawrence University and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. Other than health care, Abir’s interests include aviation, border collies and U2.

Those of you who have had the chance to meet him on campus know that he is a great guy to talk to. He is a great believer in the liberal arts education, which he has been able to apply to solving problems in the world. If we’re lucky, we might see him on campus again this year, so look for his name on this channel.

Meet your textbook author, Jonathan Gruber

It’s time again for us to profile one of our favorite textbook authors, today featuring Jonathan Gruber of Public Finance and Public Policy fame — the text from Econ 271 last term.  I certainly endorse everything about the book aside from the $200 price tag, and Alex Tabarrok calls this one of the best textbooks ever.  If you don’t want to wait around for me to teach 271 again, you can go straight to the source through MIT’s open courseware program.

As I pointed out in class a few dozen times, Gruber is a big deal in health economics, and has a nice profile as part of its “most innovative and practical thinkers of our time” series. The dog bites man here is that Gruber has his hands both in Massachusetts health care reform (Romneycare), as well in the recent federal health care legislation (Obamacare).   Slate’s contrarian instincts find the potential 2012 presidential showdown between Romney and Obama too delicious a prospect to pass up.

Hi Guys!

Also included is an interview with Professor Gruber, along with a preview of the forthcoming health economics comic book, er, graphic novel.  Wow.