|Selected news articles which highlight important policy issues.||
News: Weekly Archives
News for the week of 07-18-2006
Latest Retail Niche: Clinics
Editor's Notes: For the latest development in health care look no further than your local Target or Wal-Mart. Retail health clinics are growing in popularity as Americans look for cheaper and more accessible ways to treat simple health problems, without the frustration of insurance paperwork and long waits.
Retail clinics are small, typically no bigger than a sandwich shop. They are open seven days a week and treat minor, non-urgent illnesses including strep throat and ear infections. Appointments are not necessary and most visits last 15 minutes for treatments that cost $40 to $70, which are clearly posted on menu-style boards on the wall.
A Windfall From Shifts to Medicare
Editor's Notes: According to the Times, drug companies are profiting from the shift in millions of poor elderly patients from Medicaid to Medicare in the wake of the Medicare drug benefit. The argument is that the private benefit managers in charge of negotiating prices for seniors enrolled in the benefit are paying higher prices for drugs than Medicaid programs did. It is unclear, at least right now, how price competition in the program will play out over time. But it is wrong to assume that lower prices automatically redound to the benefit of consumers. Price controls reduce incentives to innovate, and the Times fails to note that any increased profits will be directed into the research and development of new life saving drugs for American patients.
The windfall, which by some estimates could be $2 billion or more this year, is a result of the transfer of millions of low–income people into the new Medicare Part D drug program that went into effect in January. Under that program, as it turns out, the prices paid by insurers, and eventually the taxpayer, for the medications given to those transferred are likely to be higher than what was paid under the federal-state Medicaid programs for the poor.
The underlying assumption of this article is that lower drug prices are always better. But this is a dangerous assumption, at least for anyone who cares about medical progress.
|home spotlight commentary research events news about contact links archives|