Health

In the national debate over how to make U.S. health care more efficient, one promising area for reform is often overlooked: supplies. Whether the products are knee implants, pacemakers or expensive medications, hospitals have long purchased whatever doctors desired with little discussion among the parties involved about cost. Researchers at the W. P. Carey School Business are trying to unravel the tangled supply relationships that drive up the cost of health care, burdening hospitals and frustrating efforts to expand coverage among the uninsured.

One-third of U.S. adults are obese, and another third are overweight, according to data recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Marketing scholars Naomi Mandel, Andrea Morales and Steve Nowlis have been investigating what influences our decisions about diet. Knowledge@W. P. Carey spoke with Professor Morales recently about two of her studies. One investigated those tempting 100-calorie snack packs, and the other looked at whether your dining companions have any effect on your food selections. The results may surprise you.

Dr. Denis A. Cortese recently retired from the Mayo Clinic, where he was president and CEO, and now leads the W. P. Carey School’s Health Care Delivery and Policy Program. This program is focused on facilitating and promoting a sustainable U.S. health care system. On January 19, Cortese addressed a luncheon meeting of business leaders at the Economic Club of Phoenix. Based at the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Economic Club of Phoenix is the only group of its kind in the nation that is aligned with a top research university.

A comprehensive discussion of health care reform would include three issues, according to Stephen Shortell, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California-Berkeley. Access to health care is certainly one issue, and the health reform bill as it's being proposed would address it. Affordability and sustainability — not of health insurance but of health care itself — are important issues too. But, they "get relatively short shrift in the current legislation" according to Shortell, who spoke at the 3rd Annual Health Economics and Policy Lecture, hosted by the School of Health Management and Policy at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

For decades, insurance companies have been pricing policies based on the belief that adverse selection comes into play among their customers. Adverse selection is what happens when the people who need protection most — those, for example, with the greatest health problems or worst driving records — buy lots of coverage. But Michael Keane, professor of economics at the W. P. Carey School of Business, says there are no empirical data proving adverse selection. In fact, insurance companies often benefit from "advantageous selection," because the people who are the best risks also are their best customers. In reality, those who need lots of coverage often do not buy it — usually because they don't understand the offerings. Policy makers and political leaders who are trying to reform healthcare should take note, Keane says.