India is not, yet, a wealthy country. Nevertheless its people experience many of the same expensive-to-treat illnesses as wealthier populations in the U.S. and Europe. Therefore, the country has made a series of policy decisions designed to lower the cost of medical treatments. For example, until 2005, it offered no -- I repeat, no -- patent protection for pharmaceutical products, thereby spurring the development of its robust and relatively inexpensive generic ...

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shutterstock_145891655 Have you ever eaten a healthy meal, maybe some brown rice and stir-fried veggies, and found yourself ready for another meal just a short while later? Or, more often couldn’t overcome a hankering for a satisfying dessert to top off (and undermine the healthiness of) that meal? As it turns out, this lack of satiety is not merely a function of the ...

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So many foods beckoning us from the grocery store shelves -- but which ones are healthy for us to consume? We could study nutritional facts labels, but that feels as challenging as the math portion of the SAT, with so much numerical information to process. The label tells us how many calories are in the food in question -- how many grams of protein, how many grams of fat, and ...

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Jonathan Gruber went from unknown to infamous in the last few weeks, a result of disparaging comments he made about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and even more disparaging ones he made about the American people. According to Gruber, the Obama administration counted on “the stupidity of the American voter” to pass the bill. In fact, the Obama team’s “lack of transparency” was deliberate, because they believed the law would ...

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The food stamp program helps over 40 million Americans pay for groceries. Unlike other forms of economic assistance, this program, called SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), only pays for food, thereby constraining how recipients make use of the aid. But are food stamps constrained enough? SNAP recipients experience higher rates of obesity and diabetes than the general  population.  Experts estimate that SNAP recipients consume almost twice as many calories ...

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It is well known that Medicare expenditures threaten the financial solvency of the U.S. government. And it is pretty well agreed upon that some of our Medicare spending goes towards wasteful medical care. But which medical care is wasteful and how much is such care costing us?  A study in JAMA Internal Medicine provides a sneak peek at answers to these important questions. The research, led by Aaron Schwartz, a graduate student ...

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shutterstock_128357456 Such a no-brainer: If patients who receive care at hospital A are more likely to get readmitted to the hospital 10, 20 or 30 days after discharge than patients in hospital B, then hospital A must be doing something wrong. Perhaps clinicians at that hospital are less adept at diagnosing and managing patients’ problems. Perhaps the follow-up care at hospital A ...

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Not long ago, the Joint Commission established that patients with pneumonia should receive antibiotics within four hours of diagnosis. Timely diagnosis and treatment can be the difference between life and death in patients with this illness. In fact, some people believe this kind of quality measure should play a large role in how we pay for medical care. After all, doctors should not be paid solely on the basis of ...

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I have written a couple of pieces documenting the high percentage of physicians who refuse to take Medicaid patients, and some of the reasons for their refusal. One of my pieces prompted a physician to email me with his take on this matter. I am going to quote from that email, but take out identifying information to protect his anonymity. Here’s what he ...

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In health policy circles (yes, those exist!), experts often refer to three aims for a modern health care system: to offer 1) universal access to 2) high quality medical care at 3) an affordable cost. Access, quality, and cost: a possibly unachievable set of goals, certainly in the U.S., where the quality of our care is decent (but uneven), while access to care and the high cost of our care compare dismally to ...

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