Economic consequences of the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in Sweden. (1/1052)

OBJECTIVE: To develop a simulation model for analysis of the cost-effectiveness of treatments that affect the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: The Markov model was developed on the basis of a Swedish cohort of 116 patients with early RA who were followed up for 5 years. The majority of patients had American College of Rheumatology (ACR) functional class II disease, and Markov states indicating disease severity were defined based on Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) scores. Costs were calculated from data on resource utilization and patients' work capacity. Utilities (preference weights for health states) were assessed using the EQ-5D (EuroQol) questionnaire. Hypothetical treatment interventions were simulated to illustrate the model. RESULTS: The cohort distribution among the 6 Markov states clearly showed the progression of the disease over 5 years of followup. Costs increased with increasing severity of the Markov states, and total costs over 5 years were higher for patients who were in more severe Markov states at diagnosis. Utilities correlated well with the Markov states, and the EQ-5D was able to discriminate between patients with different HAQ scores within ACR functional class II. CONCLUSION: The Markov model was able to assess disease progression and costs in RA. The model can therefore be a useful tool in calculating the cost-effectiveness of different interventions aimed at changing the progression of the disease.  (+info)

Excess capacity: markets regulation, and values. (2/1052)

OBJECTIVE: To examine the conceptual bases for the conflicting views of excess capacity in healthcare markets and their application in the context of today's turbulent environment. STUDY SETTING: The policy and research literature of the past three decades. STUDY DESIGN: The theoretical perspectives of alternative economic schools of thought are used to support different policy positions with regard to excess capacity. Changes in these policy positions over time are linked to changes in the economic and political environment of the period. The social values implied by this history are articulated. DATA COLLECTION: Standard library search procedures are used to identify relevant literature. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Alternative policy views of excess capacity in healthcare markets rely on differing theoretical foundations. Changes in the context in which policy decisions are made over time affect the dominant theoretical framework and, therefore, the dominant policy view of excess capacity. CONCLUSIONS: In the 1990s, multiple perspectives of optimal capacity still exist. However, our evolving history suggests a set of persistent values that should guide future policy in this area.  (+info)

The cost effectiveness of strategies for the treatment of intestinal parasites in immigrants. (3/1052)

BACKGROUND: Currently, more than 600,000 immigrants enter the United States each year from countries where intestinal parasites are endemic. At entry persons with parasitic infections may be asymptomatic, and stool examinations are not a sensitive method of screening for parasitosis. Albendazole is a new, broad-spectrum antiparasitic drug, which was approved recently by the Food and Drug Administration. International trials have shown albendazole to be safe and effective in eradicating many parasites. In the United States there is now disagreement about whether to screen all immigrants for parasites, treat all immigrants presumptively, or do nothing unless they have symptoms. METHODS: We compared the costs and benefits of no preventive intervention (watchful waiting) with those of universal screening or presumptive treatment with 400 mg of albendazole per day for five days. Those at risk were defined as immigrants to the United States from Asia, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Cost effectiveness was expressed both in terms of the cost of treatment per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) averted (one DALY is defined as the loss of one year of healthy life to disease) and in terms of the cost per hospitalization averted. RESULTS: As compared with watchful waiting, presumptive treatment of all immigrants at risk for parasitosis would avert at least 870 DALYs, prevent at least 33 deaths and 374 hospitalizations, and save at least $4.2 million per year. As compared with watchful waiting, screening would cost $159,236 per DALY averted. CONCLUSIONS: Presumptive administration of albendazole to all immigrants at risk for parasitosis would save lives and money. Universal screening, with treatment of persons with positive stool examinations, would save lives but is less cost effective than presumptive treatment.  (+info)

Impact of market value on human mate choice decisions. (4/1052)

Mate choice strategies are a process of negotiation in which individuals make bids that are constrained by their status in the market place. Humans provide an unusual perspective on this because we can measure their explicitly expressed preferences before they are forced to make any choices. We use advertisements placed in newspaper personal columns to examine, first, the extent to which evolutionary considerations affect the level of competition (or market value) during the reproductively active period of people's lives and, second, the extent to which market value influences individual's willingness to make strong demands of prospective mates. We show that female market value is determined principally by women's fecundity (and, to a lesser extent, reproductive value), while male market value is determined by men's earning potential and the risk of future pairbond termination (the conjoint probability that the male will either die or divorce his partner during the next 20 years). We then show that these selection preferences strongly influence the levels of demands that men and women make of prospective partners (although older males tend to overestimate their market value).  (+info)

International economic analysis of primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with pravastatin in WOSCOPS. West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study. (5/1052)

AIMS: The results of the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS) demonstrated the clinical benefit of using pravastatin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in hypercholesterolaemic men. To inform decision makers, who must also consider costs, this study assesses the economic efficiency of such an intervention in a broad range of countries. METHODS AND RESULTS: A generalized model of cardiovascular disease prevention was used to estimate the cost-effectiveness of primary prevention with pravastatin compared to diet alone. This model follows a cohort of hypercholesterolaemic men over a given period quantifying the effect in terms of the avoidance of cardiovascular disease based on treatment-specific risks derived from WOSCOPS data and extensive record-linkage data on disease-specific survival. Country-specific costs are accounted for by expressing all such parameters in terms of the ratio of monthly treatment to that of managing a myocardial infarction. Over a broad range of inputs the cost-effectiveness ratios remain below $25,000 per life years gained, regardless of country. Subgroups with even better economic efficacy can be defined on the basis of higher baseline risk. CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to some previous reports, this analysis based on trial data demonstrates that pravastatin provides not only an effective means of primary cardiovascular disease prevention, but also an efficient one.  (+info)

Choice and accountability in health promotion: the role of health economics. (6/1052)

Choices need to be made between competing uses of health care resources. There is debate about how these choices should be made, who should make them and the criteria upon which they should be made. Evaluation of health care is an important part of this debate. It has been suggested that the contribution of health economics to the evaluation of health promotion is limited, both because the methods and principles underlying economic evaluation are unsuited to health promotion, and because the political and cultural processes governing the health care system are more appropriate mechanisms for allocating health care resources than systematic economic analysis of the costs and benefits of different health care choices. This view misrepresents and misunderstands the contribution of health economics to the evaluation of health promotion. It overstates the undoubted methodological difficulties of evaluating health promotion. It also argues, mistakenly, that economists see economic evaluation as a substitute for the political and cultural processes governing health care, rather than an input to them. This paper argues for an economics input on grounds of efficiency, accountability and ethics, and challenges the critics of the economic approach to judge alternative mechanisms for allocating resources by the same criteria.  (+info)

The political economy of capitated managed care. (7/1052)

Despite the fact that billions of dollars are being invested in capitated managed care, it has yet to be subjected to the rigors of robust microeconomic modeling; hence, the seemingly intuitive assumptions driving managed care orthodoxy continue to gain acceptance with almost no theoretical examination or debate. The research in this paper finds the standard unidimensional model of risk generally used to analyze capitation--i.e., that risk is homogenous in nature, organizationally fungible, and linear in amplitude--to be inadequate. Therefore, the paper proposes to introduce a multidimensional model based on the assumption that phenomenologically unrelated species of risk result from non-homogenous types of socioeconomic activity in the medical marketplace. The multidimensional analysis proceeds to concentrate on two species of risk: probability risk and technical risk. A two-dimensional risk matrix reveals that capitation, far from being a market-oriented solution, actually prevents the formation of a dynamic price system necessary to optimize marketplace trades of medical goods and services. The analysis concludes that a universal attempt to purchase healthcare through capitation or any other insurance mechanism would render the reasonable attainment of social efficiency highly problematic. While in reality there are other identifiable species of risk (such as cost-utility risk), the analysis proceeds to hypothesize what a market-oriented managed care approach might look like within a two-dimensional risk matrix.  (+info)

Out-of-pocket health spending by poor and near-poor elderly Medicare beneficiaries. (8/1052)

OBJECTIVE: To estimate out-of-pocket health care spending by lower-income Medicare beneficiaries, and to examine spending variations between those who receive Medicaid assistance and those who do not receive such aid. DATA SOURCES AND COLLECTION: 1993 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) Cost and Use files, supplemented with data from the Bureau of the Census (Current Population Survey); the Congressional Budget Office; the Health Care Financing Administration, Office of the Actuary (National Health Accounts); and the Social Security Administration. STUDY DESIGN: We analyzed out-of-pocket spending through a Medicare Benefits Simulation model, which projects out-of-pocket health care spending from the 1993 MCBS to 1997. Out-of-pocket health care spending is defined to include Medicare deductibles and coinsurance; premiums for private insurance, Medicare Part B, and Medicare HMOs; payments for non-covered goods and services; and balance billing by physicians. It excludes the costs of home care and nursing facility services, as well as indirect tax payments toward health care financing. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Almost 60 percent of beneficiaries with incomes below the poverty level did not receive Medicaid assistance in 1997. We estimate that these beneficiaries spent, on average, about half their income out-of-pocket for health care, whether they were enrolled in a Medicare HMO or in the traditional fee-for-service program. The 75 percent of beneficiaries with incomes between 100 and 125 percent of the poverty level who were not enrolled in Medicaid spent an estimated 30 percent of their income out-of-pocket on health care if they were in the traditional program and about 23 percent of their income if they were enrolled in a Medicare HMO. Average out-of-pocket spending among fee-for-service beneficiaries varied depending on whether beneficiaries had Medigap policies, employer-provided supplemental insurance, or no supplemental coverage. Those without supplemental coverage spent more on health care goods and services, but spent less than the other groups on prescription drugs and dental care-services not covered by Medicare. CONCLUSIONS: While Medicaid provides substantial protection for some lower-income Medicare beneficiaries, out-of-pocket health care spending continues to be a substantial burden for most of this population. Medicare reform discussions that focus on shifting more costs to beneficiaries should take into account the dramatic costs of health care already faced by this vulnerable population.  (+info)