Background: The Affordable Care Act established policy mechanisms to increase health insurance coverage in the United States. While insurance coverage has increased, 10%-15% of the US population remains uninsured.
Objectives: To assess whether health insurance literacy and financial literacy predict being uninsured, covered by Medicaid, or covered by Marketplace insurance, holding demographic characteristics, attitudes toward risk, and political affiliation constant.
Research Design: Analysis of longitudinal data from fall 2013 and spring 2015 including financial and health insurance literacy and key covariates collected in 2013.
Subjects: A total of 2742 US residents ages 18-64, 525 uninsured in fall 2013, participating in the RAND American Life Panel, a nationally representative internet panel.
Measures: Self-reported health insurance status and type as of spring 2015.
Results: Among the uninsured in 2013, higher financial and health insurance literacy were associated with greater probability of being insured in 2015. For a typical uninsured individual in 2013, the probability of being insured in 2015 was 8.3 percentage points higher with high compared with low financial literacy, and 9.2 percentage points higher with high compared with low health insurance literacy. For the general population, those with high financial and health insurance literacy were more likely to obtain insurance through Medicaid or the Marketplaces compared with being uninsured. The magnitude of coefficients for these predictors was similar to that of commonly used demographic covariates.
Conclusions: A lack of understanding about health insurance concepts and financial illiteracy predict who remains uninsured. Outreach and consumer-education programs should consider these characteristics.
Pay-for-performance (P4P) programs have been introduced in numerous developing countries with the goal of increasing the provision and quality of health services through financial incentives. Despite the popularity of P4P, there is limited evidence on how providers achieve performance gains and how P4P affects health system quality by changing structural inputs. We explore these two questions in the context of Rwanda's 2006 national P4P program by examining the program's impact on structural quality measures drawn from international and national guidelines. Given the program's previously documented success at increasing institutional delivery rates, we focus on a set of delivery-specific and more general structural inputs. Using the program's quasi-randomized rollout, we apply multivariate regression analysis to short-run facility data from the 2007 Service Provision Assessment. We find positive program effects on the presence of maternity-related staff, the presence of covered waiting areas, and a management indicator and a negative program effect on delivery statistics monitoring. We find no effects on a set of other delivery-specific physical resources, delivery-specific human resources, delivery-specific operations, general physical resources, and general human resources. Using mediation analysis, we find that the positive input differences explain a small and insignificant fraction of P4P's impact on institutional delivery rates. The results suggest that P4P increases provider availability and facility operations but is only weakly linked with short-run structural health system improvements overall.
Background: Given plans to extend its regulatory authority to e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urgently needs to understand how e-cigarettes are perceived by the public.
Objectives: To examine how smoking status impacts adult perceptions and expectations of e-cigarettes.
Methods: We used Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a “crowdsourcing” platform, to rapidly survey a large (n=796; female=381; male=415), diverse sample of adult ever (44%) and never smokers (56%), with ever (28%) and never (72%) users of e-cigarettes.
Results: Smokers and non-smokers learned about e-cigarettes primarily through the internet and conversations with others.Ever smokers were more likely than never smokers, and female current smokers were more likely than female former smokers, to have learned about e-cigarettes from point of sale advertising (p’s<0.05) and to believe that e-cigarettes help smokers quit (p’s<0.05). Among never-users of e-cigarettes, current smokers were more likely than never smokers and former smokers to report that they would try e-cigarettes in the future (p’s<0.01). Current smokers’ top reason for wanting to try e-cigarettes was to quit or reduce smoking (56%), while never and former smokers listed curiosity. In contrast, female current smokers’ top reason for not trying e-cigarettes was health and safety concerns (44%) while males indicated expense (44%).
Conclusions: Adult smokers and non-smokers have different perceptions and expectations of e-cigarettes. Public health messages regarding e-cigarettes may need to be tailored separately for persons with and without a history of using conventional cigarettes. Tailoring messages by gender within smoker groups may also improve their impact.
Performance-based contracting is particularly challenging in health care, where multiple agents, information asymmetries and other market failures compound the critical contracting concern of multitasking. As performance-based contracting grows in developing countries, it is critical to better understand not only intended program impacts on rewarded outcomes, but also unintended program impacts such as multitasking and heterogeneous program effects in order to guide program design and scale-up. We use two waves of data from the Rwanda Demographic and Health Surveys collected before and after the quasi-experimental roll- out of Rwanda’s national pay-for-performance (P4P) program to analyze impacts on utilization of healthcare services, health outcomes and unintended consequences of P4P. We find that P4P improved some rewarded services, as well as some services that were not directly rewarded, but had no statistically significant impact on health outcomes. We do not find evidence that clearly suggests multitasking. We find that program effects vary by baseline levels of facility quality, with most improvements seen in the medium quality tier.
Transparency interventions, such as public reporting, have emerged as a potential policy approach to improving the performance of health care providers in resource-constrained settings. We report on results from focus groups and key informant interviews in rural areas of two Tajik provinces, Soghd and Khatlon, with regards to three important initial considerations for developing a report card initiative for primary health care in this setting: selecting indicators for the report card, collecting data, and working with existing institutions and stakeholders. The findings suggest that citizens are able to articulate and prioritize concerns with respect to local health care services. Participants indicated a preference for arms-length collection of sensitive feedback on local providers. Since citizens and local institutions have close and important relations with their local health care providers, there may be scope for a trusted external actor, such as a non-governmental organization, to facilitate the report card process.
Wuppermann, Amelie C., Sebastian Bauhoff, Andreas Filser, and Manfred Antoni. 2016. “Krankenkassen im Regionalen Vergleich.” Krankenversicherung im Rating: Leistungsbewertungen und Management als Schlüsselfaktoren, edited by Thomas Adolph, Oliver Everling, and Marco Metzler, 3rd ed., 97-121. Heidelberg: Springer Gabler. Published chapter (gated)
The routine data generated by India’s universal coverage programs offer an important opportunity to evaluate and track the quality of health care systematically and on a large scale. We examined the potential and challenges of measuring the quality of hospital care through claims data from India’s hospital insurance program for the poor, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY). Using data from one district in India, we illustrate how these data already provide useful insights and show that simple efforts to enhance data quality and an effort to expand the data captured could facilitate RSBY’s ability to track quality of care. The data collected by RSBY has significant potential to characterize and uncover the provision of low-quality care and help inform much-needed efforts to raise the quality of hospital care.
We study how the announcement by CVS Health, a large US-based pharmacy chain, to stop selling tobacco products affected its share price and that of its close competitors, as well as major tobacco companies. Combining event study and synthetic control methodologies we compare measures of CVS’s stock market valuation with those of a peer group consisting of large publicly listed firms that are part of Standard & Poor’s S&P 500 stock market index. CVS’s announcement is associated with a short-term decrease in its share price, whereas close competitors have benefitted from CVS’ decision. We also find a negative share price effect for Altria, the largest US domestic tobacco firm. Overall our findings are consistent with markets expecting consumers to shift from CVS to alternative outlets in the short-run, and interpreting CVS’ decision to drop tobacco products as signal that other firms may follow suit.
Quality of care is emerging as an important concern for low- and middle-income countries working to expand and improve coverage. However, there is limited systematic, large-scale empirical guidance to inform policy design. Our study operationalized indicators for six dimensions of quality of care that are captured in currently available, standardized Service Provision Assessments. We implemented these measures to assess the levels and heterogeneity of antenatal care in Kenya. Using our indicator mix, we find that performance is low overall and that there is substantial variation across provinces, management authority and facility type. Overall, facilities performed highest in the dimensions of efficiency and acceptability/patient-centeredness, and lowest on effectiveness and accessibility. Public facilities generally performed worse or similarly to private or faith-based facilities. We illustrate how these data and methods can provide readily-available, low-cost decision support for policy.
Background: State Medicaid policies play an important role in Medicaid-enrollees' access to and use of opioid agonists, such as methadone and buprenorphine, in the treatment of opioid use disorders. Little information is available, however, regarding the evolution of state policies facilitating or hindering access to opioid agonists among Medicaid-enrollees.
Methods: During 2013–14, we surveyed state Medicaid officials and other designated state substance abuse treatment specialists about their state's recent history of Medicaid coverage and policies pertaining to methadone and buprenorphine. We describe the evolution of such coverage and policies and present an overview of the Medicaid policy environment with respect to opioid agonist therapy from 2004 to 2013.
Results: Among our sample of 45 states with information on buprenorphine and methadone coverage, we found a gradual trend toward adoption of coverage for opioid agonist therapies in state Medicaid agencies. In 2013, only 11% of states in our sample (n = 5) had Medicaid policies that excluded coverage for methadone and buprenorphine, while 71% (n = 32) had adopted or maintained policies to cover both buprenorphine and methadone among Medicaid-enrollees. We also noted an increase in policies over the time period that may have hindered access to buprenorphine and/or methadone.
Conclusions: There appears to be a trend for states to enact policies increasing Medicaid coverage of opioid agonist therapies, while in recent years also enacting policies, such as prior authorization requirements, that potentially serve as barriers to opioid agonist therapy utilization. Greater empirical information about the potential benefits and potential unintended consequences of such policies can provide policymakers and others with a more informed understanding of their policy decisions.
Context: Opioid use disorders are a significant public health problem. In 2002, the FDA approved buprenorphine as an opioid use disorder treatment when prescribed by waivered physicians who were limited to treating 30 patients at a time. In 2006, federal legislation raised this number to 100 patients. Although federal legislators are considering increasing these limits further and expanding prescribing privileges to nonphysicians, little information is available regarding the impact of such changes on buprenorphine use. We therefore examined the impact of the 2006 legislation—as well as the association between urban and rural waivered physicians, opioid treatment programs, and substance abuse treatment facilities—on buprenorphine distributed per capita over the past decade.
Methods: Using 2004-2011 state-level data on buprenorphine dispensed and county-level data on the number of buprenorphine-waivered physicians and substance abuse treatment facilities using buprenorphine, we estimated a multivariate ordinary least squares regression model with state fixed effects of a state’s annual total buprenorphine dispensed per capita as a function of the state’s number of buprenorphine providers.
Findings: The amount of buprenorphine dispensed has been increasing at a greater rate than the number of buprenorphine providers. The number of physicians waivered to treat 100 patients with buprenorphine in both rural and urban settings was significantly associated with increased amounts of buprenorphine dispensed per capita. There was no significant association in the growth of buprenorphine distributed and the number of physicians with 30-patient waivers.
Conclusions: The greater amounts of buprenorphine dispensed are consistent with the potentially greater use of opioid agonists for opioid use disorder treatment, though they also make their misuse more likely. The changes after the 2006 legislation suggest that policies focused on increasing the number of patients that a single waivered physician could safely and effectively treat could be more effective in increasing buprenorphine use than would alternatives such as opening new substance abuse treatment facilities or raising the overall number of waivered physicians.
Federal subsidies available to enrollees in health insurance Marketplaces are pegged to the premium of the second-lowest-cost silver plan available in each rating area (as defined by each state). People who qualify for the subsidy contribute a percentage of their income to purchase coverage, and the federal government covers the remaining cost up to the price of that premium. Because the number of plans offered and plan premiums vary substantially across rating areas, the effective value of the subsidy may vary geographically. We found that the availability of more plans in a rating area was associated with lower premiums but higher deductibles for enrollees in the second-lowest-cost silver plan. In rating areas with more than twenty plans, the average deductible in the second-lowest-cost silver plan was nearly $1,000 higher than it was in rating areas with fewer than thirteen plans. Because premium costs for second-lowest-cost silver plans are capped, deductibles may be a more salient measure of plan value for enrollees than premiums are. Greater standardization of plans or an alternative approach to calculating the subsidy could provide a more consistent benefit to enrollees across various rating areas.
This paper investigates whether individuals are sufficiently informed to make reasonable choices in the health insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We document knowledge of health reform, health insurance literacy, and expected changes in healthcare using a nationally representative survey of the US population in the 5 wk before the introduction of the exchanges, with special attention to subgroups most likely to be affected by the ACA. Results suggest that a substantial share of the population is unprepared to navigate the new exchanges. One-half of the respondents did not know about the exchanges, and 42% could not correctly describe a deductible. Those earning 100–250% of federal poverty level (FPL) correctly answered, on average, 4 out of 11 questions about health reform and 4.6 out of 7 questions about health insurance. This compares with 6.1 and 5.9 correct answers, respectively, for those in the top income category (400% of FPL or more). Even after controlling for potential confounders, a low-income person is 31% less likely to score above the median on ACA knowledge questions, and 54% less likely to score above the median on health insurance knowledge than a person in the top income category. Uninsured respondents scored lower on health insurance knowledge, but their knowledge of ACA is similar to the overall population. We propose that simplified options, decision aids, and health insurance product design to address the limited understanding of health insurance contracts will be crucial for ACA’s success.
Objective: To evaluate the effect of the Chiranjeevi Yojana programme, a public–private partnership to improve maternal and neonatal health in Gujarat, India.
Methods: A household survey (n = 5597 households) was conducted in Gujarat to collect retrospective data on births within the preceding 5 years. In an observational study using a difference-in-differences design, the relationship between the Chiranjeevi Yojana programme and the probability of delivery in health-care institutions, the probability of obstetric complications and mean household expenditure for deliveries was subsequently examined. In multivariate regressions, individual and household characteristics as well as district and year fixed effects were controlled for. Data from the most recent District Level Household and Facility Survey (DLHS-3) wave conducted in Gujarat (n = 6484 households) were used in parallel analyses.
Findings: Between 2005 and 2010, the Chiranjeevi Yojana programme was not associated with a statistically significant change in the probability of institutional delivery (2.42 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, CI: −5.90 to 10.74) or of birth-related complications (6.16 percentage points; 95% CI: −2.63 to 14.95). Estimates using DLHS-3 data were similar. Analyses of household expenditures indicated that mean household expenditure for private-sector deliveries had either not fallen or had fallen very little under the Chiranjeevi Yojana programme.
Conclusion: The Chiranjeevi Yojana programme appears to have had no significant impact on institutional delivery rates or maternal health outcomes. The absence of estimated reductions in household spending for private-sector deliveries deserves further study.
School nutrition policies aim to eliminate ubiquitous unhealthy foods and beverages from schools to improve adolescent dietary behavior and reduce childhood obesity. This paper evaluates the impact of an early nutrition policy, Los Angeles Unified School District's food-and-beverage standards of 2004, using two large datasets on food intake and physical measures. I implement cohort and cross-section estimators using ``synthetic'' control groups, combinations of unaffected districts that are reweighted to closely resemble the treatment unit in the pre-intervention period. The results indicate that the policy was mostly ineffective at reducing the prevalence of overweight or obesity 8-15 months after the intervention but significantly decreased consumption of two key targets, soda and fried foods. The policy's impact on physical outcomes appears to be mitigated by substitution toward foods that are still (or newly) available in the schools.
Under the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA), many low income consumers will become eligible for government support to buy health insurance. Whether these consumers are able to take advantage of the support and to make sound decisions about purchasing health insurance will likely depend on their knowledge and skills in navigating complex financial products. This ability is frequently referred to as “financial literacy.” This paper examined the level and distribution of consumers’ financial literacy across income groups, using 2012 data collected in the RAND American Life Panel, an internet panel representative of the U.S. population. Financial illiteracy was particularly prevalent among individuals with incomes between 100-400% of the Federal Poverty Line, many of whom will be eligible for subsidies. In this group, the young, less educated, females, and those with less income were more likely to have low financial literacy. The findings suggest the need for targeted policies to support vulnerable consumers in making good choices for themselves, possibly above and beyond the support measures already planned for in the ACA.
This paper evaluates whether health plans in Germany's Social Health Insurance select on an easily observable predictor of risk: geography. To identify plan behavior separately from concurrent demand-side adverse selection, I implement a double-blind audit study in which plans are contacted by fictitious applicants from different locations. I find that plans are less likely to respond and follow-up with applicants from higher-cost regions, such as West Germany. The results suggest that supply-side selection may emerge even in heavily regulated insurance markets. The prospect of risk selection by firms has implications for studies of demand-side selection and regulatory policy in these settings.