Friday, December 2, 2016

Health Jobs Grow 1.5 Times Faster Than Non-Health Jobs

This morning’s jobs report maintained the trend of high growth in health services, which grew 1.5 times faster than non-health jobs (0.18 percent versus 0.12 percent). With 28,000 jobs added, health services accounted for almost one in six of 178,000 new jobs.

The disproportionately high share of job growth in health services is a deliberate outcomeof Obamacare. While this trend persists, it will become increasingly hard to carry out reforms that will improve productivity in the delivery of care.

Ambulatory sites added jobs at a much faster rate than hospitals. This was concentrated in offices of physicians and other practitioners, and outpatient care centers. Physicians’ offices alone added 7,000 jobs, more than the 6,000 jobs added by hospitals. This is a good sign because hospitals are high-cost locations of care versus doctors’ offices and other ambulatory sites.

See Table I below the fold.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Significant Drop in Health Facilities Construction in October

Construction of health facilities slowed in October, while other construction increased a little. Overall, health facilities construction starts declined 3.1 percent, versus an increase of 0.7 percent for other construction. Health facilities construction accounted for almost 6 percent of non-residential construction starts. However, while both private and public health facilities construction both declined, there was divergence between private and public non-health construction.

(See Table I below the fold.)

Surprise Medical Bills A Growing Problem Requiring Price Transparency

(A version of this column was published by Forbes.)

Donald Trump’s health reform proposal during the presidential campaign promised to deliver price transparency to health care:

Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.

Doctors and hospitals are infamously terrible at sharing price information with patients. It is a problem for both scheduled procedures and visits to emergency rooms. 

The root problem is not that providers are unwilling to share prices, but that prices are not formed through a normal market process. Instead they are administratively determined between government, insurers, and providers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Price is Right! Trump’s Choice Indicates Push to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Donald Trump’s choice of Dr. Tom Price as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services indicates the Trump Administration will make a serious effort to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered health reform.

After some initial signs of hesitation at actually trying to achieve this six-year old campaign promise, Obamacare’s opponents can now be confident that skilled leadership will wage a sophisticated and likely successful effort to restart health reform. Here are four reasons why:

Tame Health Spending Confirmed in Strong Q3 GDP

For those (like me) concerned about how much health spending continues to increase after Obamacare, the second report of third quarter Gross Domestic Product confirmed good news. Although GDP growth was revised up $10 billion, only a scratch was due to health spending. It is good to have a breather from the second quarter, which was dominated by growth in health services spending.

Overall, real GPD increased 3.1 percent on the quarter, while health services spending increased only 2.3 percent, and contributed only 9 percent of real GDP growth. Growth in health services spending was also in line with other services spending and personal consumption expenditures (PCE). However, the annualized change in the health services price index increased by 1.7 percent, lower than the price increase of 1.3 percent in non-health GDP but less than the 2.8 percent price increase for non-health services.

(See Table I below the fold.)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Health Technology Forum: DC Third Speaker Announced December 5

Please join us in Washington, DC on December 5 at 6 p.m. for Crossing the Chasm from Analog to Digital Health.

There is a lot of digital technology being deployed, but is it actually succeeding in disrupting health care in a positive way, to increase quality and cut costs? Our speakers will discuss digital opportunities are succeeding in achieving this.

As usual, our format will present three speakers: Our third will be Mark A. Cochran, PhD, Executive Director, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions. Professor Cochran will discuss Using Digital Health Tools to Manage Population Health.

The White Man's Burden: Drugs, Drinking, Suicides Up Since 2000

More nonsense has been written about white nationalism/supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump’s election than anyone should have to read. So, it is a pleasure to find some actual data analysis on the role of the non-college educated white citizen in the success of the Trump candidacy, especially versus Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign.

The Economist has determined health status explains the Trump vote better than being a non-college educated white citizen does. The sicker you are, the more likely you are to have voted for Trump. Non-college educated whites are also likely to be sicker, so the two variables are not independent. Nevertheless: