Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Take an artificial sweetener pill

I just read this WSJ article that said: "Obese people spent 42% more than people of normal weight on medical costs in 2006, a difference of $1,429, the study found. Prescription drugs accounted for much of the increase." I therefore applaud and encourage everyone's efforts to keep their weight down. Maybe we need more exercise for people...

When people compare health care between countries, the costs per American always seem high. Why is that? Here are some behavioral observations, in addition to the usually cited factors and our general chubbiness.

1) Americans demand more expensive, patented, brand name medicines. Many studies have shown that placebos are equally effective, for mental disorders in particular. Generics often get the job done for a fraction of the cost- often for less than the co-pay offered by my insurance.

2) Americans go to the doctor more. We visit the doctor more frequently than people in other countries, with the exception of Japan. A lot of this is because doctors control access to medicines we want (see #1). Moving more medicine to non-prescription status (like allergy medication) and making more medicine available via a visit to a nurse practitioner would save on the number of visits.

3) Third party payers- we buy medical services with no concern for their cost, because we don't directly pay for them. People spend more time trying to save 50c in the grocery store than they do saving $200 on an MRI, which should be a commodity service. We need a market where you get some benefit by choosing a less expensive treatment. This will incentivize providers to actually compete on price, like they do for LASIK and cosmetic surgery.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Long time no post, but this track just was such a classlessic, it required action!!

Go Ke$ha.