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The value of medical and pharmaceutical interventions for reducing obesity

  • Michaud, Pierre-Carl
  • Goldman, Dana P.
  • Lakdawalla, Darius N.
  • Zheng, Yuhui
  • Gailey, Adam H.

This paper attempts to quantify the social, private, and public-finance values of reducing obesity through pharmaceutical and medical interventions. We find that the total social value of bariatric surgery is large for treated patients, with incremental social cost-effectiveness ratios typically under $10,000 per life-year saved. On the other hand, pharmaceutical interventions against obesity yield much less social value with incremental social cost-effectiveness ratios around $50,000. Our approach accounts for: competing risks to life expectancy; health care costs; and a variety of non-medical economic consequences (pensions, disability insurance, taxes, and earnings), which account for 20% of the total social cost of these treatments. On balance, bariatric surgery generates substantial private value for those treated, in the form of health and other economic consequences. The net public fiscal effects are modest, primarily because the size of the population eligible for treatment is small. The net social effect is large once improvements in life expectancy are taken into account.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 630-643

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:4:p:630-643
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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  1. Goldman, Dana & Michaud, Pierre-Carl & Lakdawalla, Darius & Zheng, Yuhui & Gailey, Adam & Vaynman, Igor, 2010. "The Fiscal Consequences Of Trends In Population Health," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 63(2), pages 307-30, June.
  2. Ruhm Christopher J, 2007. "Current and Future Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in the United States," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-28, September.
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  6. Martin S. Feldstein, 2008. "Effects of Taxes on Economic Behavior," NBER Working Papers 13745, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
  8. Michaud, Pierre-Carl & van Soest, Arthur, 2004. "Health and Wealth of Elderly Couples: Causality Tests Using Dynamic Panel Data Models," IZA Discussion Papers 1312, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  10. Lakdawalla, Darius & Philipson, Tomas, 2009. "The growth of obesity and technological change," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 283-293, December.
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  12. Adams, Peter & Hurd, Michael D. & McFadden, Daniel & Merrill, Angela & Ribeiro, Tiago, 2003. "Healthy, wealthy, and wise? Tests for direct causal paths between health and socioeconomic status," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 3-56, January.
  13. Feldstein, Martin, 2008. "Effects of Taxes on Economic Behavior," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(1), pages 131-39, March.
  14. Garber, Alan M. & Phelps, Charles E., 1997. "Economic foundations of cost-effectiveness analysis," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-31, February.
  15. Feldstein, Martin, 2008. "Effects of Taxes on Economic Behavior," Scholarly Articles 2943922, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Chouinard Hayley H & Davis David E & LaFrance Jeffrey T & Perloff Jeffrey M, 2007. "Fat Taxes: Big Money for Small Change," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-30, June.
  17. Giertz, Seth, 2004. "Recent Literature on Taxable-Income Elasticities," MPRA Paper 16159, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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