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Changing Mix of Medical Care Services: Stylized Facts and Implications for Price Indexes

  • Ana Aizcorbe
  • Nicole Nestoriak

    (Bureau of Economic Analysis)

The utilization of health care services has undergone several important shifts in recent years that have implications for the cost of medical care. We empirically document the presence of these shifts for a broad list of medical conditions and assess the implications for price indexes. Following the earlier literature, we compare the growth of two price measures: one that tracks expenditures for the services actually provided to treat conditions and another that holds the mix of those services fixed over time. Using retrospective claims data for a sample of commercially-insured patients, we find that, on average, expenditures to treat diseases rose 11% from 2003:1 to 2005:4 and would have risen even faster, 18%, had the mix of services remained fixed at the 2003:1 levels. This suggests that fixed-basket price indexes, as are used in the official statistics, could overstate true price growth significantly.

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Paper provided by Bureau of Economic Analysis in its series BEA Working Papers with number 0064.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Handle: RePEc:bea:wpaper:0064
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  1. David M. Cutler & Mark McClellan & Joseph P. Newhouse & Dahlia Remler, 1999. "Pricing Heart Attack Treatments," NBER Working Papers 7089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  2. Ernst R. Berndt & Susan Busch & Richard Frank, 2001. "Treatment Price Indexes for Acute Phase Major Depression," NBER Chapters, in: Medical Care Output and Productivity, pages 463-508 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Berndt, Ernst R. & Cutler, David M. & Frank, Richard G. & Griliches, Zvi & Newhouse, Joseph P. & Triplett, Jack E., 2000. "Medical care prices and output," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 119-180 Elsevier.
  9. Irving Shapiro & Matthew D. Shapiro & David Wilcox, 2001. "Measuring the value of Cataract Surgery," NBER Chapters, in: Medical Care Output and Productivity, pages 411-438 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Xue Song & William D. Marder & Robert Houchens & Jonathan E. Conklin & Ralph Bradley, 2009. "Can A Disease-Based Price Index Improve the Estimation of the Medical Consumer Price Index?," NBER Chapters, in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 329-368 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Duggan, Mark, 2005. "Do new prescription drugs pay for themselves?: The case of second-generation antipsychotics," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-31, January.
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