Health Policy

Achieving Horizontal Equity: Must We Have A Single-Payer Health System?

Achieving Horizontal Equity: Must We Have A Single-Payer Health System?
Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 34, No. 4, August 2009 © 2009 by Duke University Press

Gusmano, M.K., Weisz, D. & Rodwin, V.G.

The question posed in this paper is whether single-payer health care systems

are more likely to provide equal treatment for equal need (horizontal equity) than are multipayer systems. To address this question, we compare access to primary and specialty health care services across selected neighborhoods, grouped by average

household income, in a single-payer system (the English NHS), a multiple-payer system with universal coverage (French National Health Insurance), and the U.S. multiple-payer system characterized by large gaps in health insurance coverage. We find that Paris residents, including those with low incomes, have better access to health care than their counterparts in Inner London and Manhattan. This finding casts doubt on the notion that the number of payers influences the capacity of a health care system to provide equitable access to its residents. The lesson is to worry less about the number of payers and more about the system’s ability to assure access to primary and specialty care services.

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Collins, D., Morduch, J., Rutherford, S. & Ruthven, O.

About forty percent of the world's people live on incomes of two dollars a day or less. If you've never had to survive on an income so small, it is hard to imagine. How would you put food on the table, afford a home, and educate your children? How would you handle emergencies and old age? Every day, more than a billion people around the world must answer these questions. Portfolios of the Poor is the first book to explain systematically how the poor find solutions.

The authors report on the yearlong "financial diaries" of villagers and slum dwellers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa--records that track penny by penny how specific households manage their money. The stories of these families are often surprising and inspiring. Most poor households do not live hand to mouth, spending what they earn in a desperate bid to keep afloat. Instead, they employ financial tools, many linked to informal networks and family ties. They push money into savings for reserves, squeeze money out of creditors whenever possible, run sophisticated savings clubs, and use microfinancing wherever available. Their experiences reveal new methods to fight poverty and ways to envision the next generation of banks for the "bottom billion."

Evidence-Based Management in Healthcare

Evidence-Based Management in Healthcare
Chicago:  Health Administration Press,

Kovner, A.R., Fine, D.R. & D'Aquila, R.

Too often in the fast-moving healthcare field, decision makers rely primarily on what has worked before. Evidence-Based Management in Healthcare explains how healthcare leaders can move from making educated guesses to using the best available information to make decisions.

Learn what evidence-based management (EB management) is and how it can focus thinking and clarify the issues surrounding a decision. The book provides a straightforward process for asking the right questions, gathering supporting information from various sources, evaluating the information, and applying it to solve management challenges.

Numerous real-life examples illustrate how the EB management approach is used in a variety of situations, from inpatient bed planning to operating room scheduling to leadership development. These examples also demonstrate the potential costs and benefits of EB management.

The Politics of Obesity: A Current Assessment and Look Ahead

The Politics of Obesity: A Current Assessment and Look Ahead
Milbank Quarterly 2009 Mar;87(1):295-316. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2009.00556.x.

Kersh, R.

Context: The continuing rise in obesity rates across the United States has proved impervious to clinical treatment or public health exhortation, necessitating policy responses. Nearly a decade's worth of political debates may be hardening into an obesity issue regime, comprising established sets of cognitive frames, stakeholders, and policy options.

Methods: This article is a survey of reports on recently published studies.

Findings: Much of the political discussion regarding obesity is centered on two "frames," personal-responsibility and environmental, yielding very different sets of policy responses. While policy efforts at the federal level have resulted in little action to date, state and/or local solutions such as calorie menu labeling and the expansion of regulations to reduce unhealthy foods at school may have more impact.

Conclusions: Obesity politics is evolving toward a relatively stable state of equilibrium, which could make comprehensive reforms to limit rising obesity rates less feasible. Therefore, to achieve meaningful change, rapid-response research identifying a set of promising reforms, combined with concerted lobbying action, will be necessary.

Obesity burst onto the U.S. national policy agenda in 2000/2001, initially fuelled by a widely disseminated set of maps by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) depicting sharply rising obesity rates nationwide, followed by the surgeon general's warning that obesity had become a "new national epidemic" (Mokdad et al. 2003; Oliver 2006; Satcher 2001). A snapshot of responses since then would include alarmed reactions from medical, media, and policy actors alike. The health establishment has rushed to devise medical treatments, from surgical to pharmaceutical, for obesity and its manifold health effects. Surging media attention to obesity and overweight features reports ranging from dire health alarms ("the current generation may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents-and obesity is to blame"; Belluck 2005, p. A1; see also Daniels 2006; Olshansky et al. 2005) to economic warnings (over $120 billion lost annually to obesity-related illnesses; see e.g., Bhattacharya and Sood 2006) to "lifestyle" stories of coffins, airplane seats, and hospital beds all made larger to suit the "supersizing of America" (St. John 2003, p. A13). Public officials at all levels have decried the "epidemic," although statutory reforms have been concentrated in a few energetic local and state polities; the federal government has been noticeably slow to act. All the while obesity rates continue to rise, with thirty-seven states reporting significant year-to-year increases from 2007 to 2008, with none reporting a decrease (TFAH 2008).

This article explores obesity politics as it has evolved in recent years. First I discuss the sustained struggles over framing the topic now that public agendas have begun to solidify into an "issue regime" around obesity. Then I examine popular local and state policy options and review approaches that could have an impact on soaring obesity rates, along with an assessment of the likelihood of their widespread adoption. While promising policy approaches exist, the opportunity to take action may be closing fast. On most public health issues, policymaking features a bustle of activity followed by a period of quiescence as a regime coalesces-even when the underlying problems continue to mount. Antiobesity advocates who face declining interest from lawmakers will therefore need to devise creative ways to sustain a focus on this topic.


Medicaid Patients at High Risk for Frequent Hospital Admission: Real-time Identification and Remedial Risks

Medicaid Patients at High Risk for Frequent Hospital Admission: Real-time Identification and Remedial Risks
Journal of Urban Health. 86, no 2 230-241

Goldfrank, L., Billings, J., Raven, M., et al.

Patients with frequent hospitalizations generate a disproportionate share of hospital visits and costs. Accurate determination of patients who might benefit from interventions is challenging: most patients with frequent admissions in 1 year would not continue to have them in the next. Our objective was to employ a validated regression algorithm to case-find Medicaid patients at high-risk for hospitalization in the next 12 months and identify intervention-amenable characteristics to reduce hospitalization risk. We obtained encounter data for 36,457 Medicaid patients with any visit to an urban public hospital from 2001 to 2006 and generated an algorithm-based score for hospitalization risk in the subsequent 12 months for each patient (0 = lowest, 100 = highest). To determine medical and social contributors to the current admission, we conducted in-depth interviews with high-risk hospitalized patients (scores >50) and analyzed associated Medicaid claims data. An algorithm-based risk score >50 was attained in 2,618 (7.2%) patients. The algorithm’s positive predictive value was equal to 0.67. During the study period, 139 high-risk patients were admitted: 60 met inclusion criteria and 50 were interviewed. Fifty-six percent cited the Emergency Department as their usual source of care or had none. Sixty-eight percent had >1 chronic medical conditions, and 42% were admitted for conditions related to substance use. Sixty percent were homeless or precariously housed. Mean Medicaid expenditures for the interviewed patients were $39,188 and $84,040 per patient for the years immediately prior to and following study participation, respectively. Findings including high rates of substance use, homelessness, social isolation, and lack of a medical home will inform the design of interventions to improve community-based care and reduce hospitalizations and associated costs.

La Révolution Tranquille du Managed Care aux Etats Unis. (The Silent Revolution of Managed Care in the United States)

La Révolution Tranquille du Managed Care aux Etats Unis. (The Silent Revolution of Managed Care in the United States)
Ch. 21 in Tabuteau, D. Bras, P.L. and de Pouvourville, G., eds. Traité d’Economie et de Gestion de la Santé. Paris. Presses de Sciences Politiques

Rodwing, V.G.

Recent Changes in Dutch Health Insurance: Individual Mandate or Social Insurance

Recent Changes in Dutch Health Insurance: Individual Mandate or Social Insurance
Expanding Access to Health Care. T.F. Buss and P. Van de Water (eds.) National Academy of Public Administration. New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Okma, K.

The U.S. health care system faces well-known problems: 47 million people without health insurance, rapidly rising costs that consume 16 percent of the country'e economic output, and widely uneven quality of care. Even many people with coverage are experiencing serious problems paying for the rapidly rising costs of health care and insurance.

This book--a joint product of the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Academy of Social Insurance--undertakes a sweeping analysis of the management and administrative issues that arise in expanding health care coverage. The book identifies the core administrative functions that need to be performed in assuring access to health coverage, describes how these functions are performed at present and under proposed alternatives, draws lessons from experience in the U.S. and abroad, and assesses suggested administrative approaches designed to facilitate the improvement and expansion of health care coverage.

Adequate health care is one of today's most crucial domestic policy concerns. Expanding Access to Health Care is designed to bring together in one place some of the best thinking on the subject, not as an exercise in advocacy, but rather to lay out the issues in a balanced way so that policymakers, researchers, and citizens can better understand the complex details of health care reform.


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