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The insurance value of medical innovation

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  • Lakdawalla, Darius
  • Malani, Anup
  • Reif, Julian

Abstract

Economists think of medical innovation as a valuable but risky good, producing health benefits but increasing financial risk for consumers and healthcare payers. This perspective overlooks how innovation can lower physical risks borne by healthy patients facing the prospect of future disease. We present an alternative framework that accounts for all these sources of value and links them to the value of healthcare insurance. We show that any innovation worth buying reduces overall risk and generates positive insurance value on its own. We conduct a stylized numerical exercise to assess the potential empirical significance of our insights. Our calculations suggest that conventional methods meaningfully understate the value of historical health gains and disproportionately undervalue treatments for the most severe illnesses, where physical risk to consumers is the costliest. These calculations also suggest that the value of physical insurance from new technologies may exceed the financial spending risk that they pose.

Suggested Citation

  • Lakdawalla, Darius & Malani, Anup & Reif, Julian, 2017. "The insurance value of medical innovation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 94-102.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:145:y:2017:i:c:p:94-102
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2016.11.012
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Tsasis & Nirupama Agrawal & Natalie Guriel, 2019. "An Embedded Systems Perspective in Conceptualizing Canada’s Healthcare Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(2), pages 1-11, January.
    2. Shafrin, Jason & Skornicki, Michelle & Brauer, Michelle & Villeneuve, Julie & Lees, Michael & Hertel, Nadine & Penrod, John R. & Jansen, Jeroen, 2018. "An exploratory case study of the impact of expanding cost-effectiveness analysis for second-line nivolumab for patients with squamous non-small cell lung cancer in Canada: Does it make a difference?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 122(6), pages 607-613.
    3. Baranov, Victoria & Bennett, Daniel & Kohler, Hans-Peter, 2015. "The indirect impact of antiretroviral therapy: Mortality risk, mental health, and HIV-negative labor supply," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 195-211.
    4. Daniel Bauer & Darius Lakdawalla & Julian Reif, 2018. "Mortality Risk, Insurance, and the Value of Life," NBER Working Papers 25055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Darius N. Lakdawalla & Charles E. Phelps, 2019. "Evaluation of Medical Technologies with Uncertain Benefits," NBER Working Papers 26058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Proksch, Dorian & Busch-Casler, Julia & Haberstroh, Marcus Max & Pinkwart, Andreas, 2019. "National health innovation systems: Clustering the OECD countries by innovative output in healthcare using a multi indicator approach," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 169-179.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cost-benefit analysis; Health insurance; Medical innovation; Value of health;

    JEL classification:

    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General

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