1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
(Two blocks from Farragut North Metro)
In a respectful but divided discussion on Tuesday at AEI, health experts discussed the effectiveness and cost of health care in the United States, particularly in comparison to its Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) counterparts. Giving a thorough synopsis of the research advanced in his newly released book "American Health Economy Illustrated," Christopher Conover contended that research consistently underestimates the effectiveness of U.S. health care outcomes and exaggerates the system's costs. In addition, Conover asserted that socioeconomic and lifestyle variables greatly influence benchmark measures such as life expectancy and infant mortality rates and that health systems have limited ability to influence such variables. Furthermore, the methods of calculating these benchmark measures differ greatly among countries: the U.S. counts deaths of unviable and premature infants in its infant mortality statistics, but most other countries do not.
H. E. Frech III, a professor of economics at the University of California at Santa Barbara, further emphasized the effects of external factors as well as high input costs in the health care sector. According to Frech, U.S. specialists are paid 78 percent more than their counterparts in other OECD nations; only the Netherlands pays more. The U.S. pays more for highly skilled and trained workers than other countries in every industry, not just health care. That said, U.S. specialists earn only 37 percent more than U.S. higher earners, whereas in the OECD, specialists earn 45 percent more than their high earners. Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management, objected to these arguments. He placed the onus of responsibility on insurers, contending that as long as private insurers pay 30 percent more than public insurers, providers will continue to increase spending.
“Americans spend too much on health care.” “We have worse health outcomes than our European counterparts.” Talking points such as these helped drive President Obama’s controversial and sweeping health care reform into law two years ago. But are they accurate?
Not exactly, explains Christopher Conover in his just-released book “American Health Economy Illustrated.” The public and policymakers still have significant blind spots when it comes to understanding the facts about America’s health care system. Just as a bad diagnosis can lead to a bad – and even dangerous – prescription, the myths and misconceptions about health care in America continue to plague vital public policy debates. Health economists H. E. Frech and Gerard Anderson will respond to Mr. Conover’s arguments with their own insights on international health economics.
CHRISTOPHER J. CONOVER, AEI and Duke University
H.E. FRECH III, UC Santa Barbara
GERARD ANDERSON, Johns Hopkins University
JOSEPH ANTOS, AEI
For more information, please contact Matt McKillip at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.862.7197.
For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at email@example.com, 202.862.4871.
Gerard F. Anderson is a professor of health policy and management and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. Mr. Anderson is currently conducting research on chronic conditions, comparative insurance systems, medical education, health care payment reform and technology diffusion. Before coming to Johns Hopkins in 1983, Mr. Anderson worked in the office of the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1978 to 1983. He has directed reviews of health care systems for the World Bank, World Health Organization and United States Agency for International Development in multiple countries and has directed over 100 research projects. He has authored two books on health care payment policy, published over 250 peer reviewed articles, testified in Congress 50 times and serves on multiple editorial committees.
Joseph Antos is the Wilson H. Taylor scholar in health care and retirement policy at AEI. His research focuses on the economics of health policy—including Medicare and broader health system reform, health care financing, health insurance regulation, and the uninsured—and federal budget policy. He has written and spoken extensively on the Medicare drug benefit and has led a team of experienced independent actuaries and cost estimators in a study to evaluate various proposals to extend health coverage to the uninsured. His work on the country’s budget crisis includes a detailed plan to achieve fiscal stability and economic growth developed in conjunction with AEI colleagues. Joseph Antos is also a commissioner of the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission and a health adviser to the Congressional Budget Office. Before joining AEI, Mr. Antos was Assistant Director for Health and Human Resources at the Congressional Budget Office.
Christopher J. Conover is a research scholar in the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research at Duke University, an adjunct scholar at AEI, and a Mercatus-affiliated senior scholar. He has taught in the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, the Duke School of Medicine and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. His research interests are in the areas of health regulation and state health policy, with a focus on issues related to health care for the medically indigent (including the uninsured) and estimating the magnitude of the social burden of illness.
H. E. Frech III is professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a former adjunct professor at Sciences Po in Paris. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard University and at the University of Chicago and an economist in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Mr. Frech has published more than a hundred articles and books on health care and regulation. His research has included health insurance and managed care, optimal scale of physician practices and hospitals, physician and hospital pricing, competition, monopoly and antitrust policy, ownership, efficiency and wages in nursing homes, the production of health, distance traveled to hospitals, supplemental insurance in Medicare, malpractice reform, and private health insurance in Australia. Mr. Frech has consulted on the economics of health care for private and public organizations, and he has testified in U.S. federal and state courts, state legislatures, state and federal regulatory bodies, and Congress.