Hardly a week goes by but what I read something critical of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. MA plans have become somewhat politicized with Democrats preferring government-run (traditional) Medicare, while Republicans like the idea of competition among private plans. Here is the thing that critics forget: MA plans are popular with seniors. They are growing and now cover more than half of all people enrolled in Medicare, about 31 million seniors and disabled individuals.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is beefing up its scrutiny of private equity investments in health care. This past September the FTC sued U.S. Anesthesia Partners (USAP) and the private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe in Houston federal court. The investors are accused of buying up a significant portion of large anesthesia practices in major Texas cities, allowing them to aggressively boost prices. FTC chair, Lina Khan, claims private equity investors “bought up the largest anesthesiology practices, then jacked up prices and entered into price-setting and market-allocation schemes.” Research has found that physician prices rose due to private equity investments.
- Kaiser: the average annual premium for employer-sponsored family health insurance coverage was $23,968 in 2023.
- Study: Fentanyl “accounts for 90% of all opioid deaths… We show that a substantial amount of fentanyl smuggling occurs via legal trade flows.”
- In 2021, the U.S. spent $1,432 per capita on pharmaceuticals compared to only $517 in the UK. One reason: the value of a statistical life in the UK is pegged at £20,000 – £30,000, compared to $100,000 – $150,000 in the US.
- Headline I wish hadn’t seen: New York City will pay homeowners up to $395,00 to build an extra dwelling in their garage or basement to help ease the housing shortage.
- Gene Steuerle’s NYT piece on how much seniors get from the government’s elderly entitlement programs is no longer behind a paywall. Fascinating graphs.
The dermatologist examined my skin and he wrote me a prescription for a steroid cream. My entire visit was only $86. I scheduled minor surgery for a month later, which cost around $560 including a pathology report and a free, post surgery follow-up visit. My dermatologist gives uninsured patients a cash discount similar to the Medicare price. He also throws in free services, like writing a prescription for eczema since I was already in his office.
Contrast my experience seeing a Dallas dermatologist with patients from the United Kingdom. In the UK there is very little cost-sharing or out-of-pocket payments for services covered by the National Health Service (NHS).