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The Pragmatist's Guide to Comparative Effectiveness Research

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  • Amitabh Chandra
  • Anupam B. Jena
  • Jonathan S. Skinner

Abstract

All developed countries have been struggling with a trend toward health care absorbing an ever-larger fraction of government and private budgets. Adopting any treatment that improves health outcomes, no matter what the cost, can worsen allocative inefficiency by paying dearly for small health gains. One potential solution is to rely more heavily on studies of the costs and effectiveness of new technologies in an effort to ensure that new spending is justified by a commensurate gain in consumer benefits. But not everyone is a fan of such studies and we discuss the merits of comparative effectiveness studies and its cousin, cost-effectiveness analysis. We argue that effectiveness research can generate some moderating effects on cost growth in healthcare if such research can be used to nudge patients away from less-effective therapies, whether through improved decision making or by encouraging beefed-up copayments for cost-ineffective procedures. More promising still for reducing growth is the use of a cost-effectiveness framework to better understand where the real savings lie--and the real savings may well lie in figuring out the complex interaction and fragmentation of healthcare systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Amitabh Chandra & Anupam B. Jena & Jonathan S. Skinner, 2011. "The Pragmatist's Guide to Comparative Effectiveness Research," NBER Working Papers 16990, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16990
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Amitabh Chandra & Douglas O. Staiger, 2007. "Productivity Spillovers in Health Care: Evidence from the Treatment of Heart Attacks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 103-140.
    2. Katherine Baicker & Jonathan Skinner, 2011. "Health Care Spending Growth and the Future of U.S. Tax Rates," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 39-68.
    3. Basu, Anirban & Jena, Anupam B. & Philipson, Tomas J., 2011. "The impact of comparative effectiveness research on health and health care spending," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 695-706, July.
    4. Douglas Almond & Joseph J. Doyle & Amanda E. Kowalski & Heidi Williams, 2010. "Estimating Marginal Returns to Medical Care: Evidence from At-risk Newborns," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 591-634.
    5. 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.
    6. Meltzer, David, 1997. "Accounting for future costs in medical cost-effectiveness analysis," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 33-64, February.
    7. David Meltzer, 1997. "Accounting for Future Costs in Medical Cost-Effectiveness Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Nord, Erik & Richardson, Jeff & Street, Andrew & Kuhse, Helga & Singer, Peter, 1995. "Who cares about cost? Does economic analysis impose or reflect social values?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 79-94, November.
    9. Anupam Jena & Tomas Philipson, 2009. "Endogenous Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health Care Technology Adoption," NBER Working Papers 15032, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. DiMasi, Joseph A. & Hansen, Ronald W. & Grabowski, Henry G., 2003. "The price of innovation: new estimates of drug development costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 151-185, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Boone, Jan, 2013. "Does the market choose optimal health insurance coverage?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9420, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Amitabh Chandra & Jonathan Skinner, 2012. "Technology Growth and Expenditure Growth in Health Care," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(3), pages 645-680, September.
    3. Cox, James C. & Sadiraj, Vjollca & Schnier, Kurt E. & Sweeney, John F., 2016. "Higher quality and lower cost from improving hospital discharge decision making," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PB), pages 1-16.
    4. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Heidi Williams, 2016. "Paying on the Margin for Medical Care: Evidence from Breast Cancer Treatments," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 52-79, February.
    5. repec:exc:wpaper:2013-09 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ian M. McCarthy, 2014. "Eliminating Aggregation Bias when Estimating Treatment Effects on Combined Outcomes with Applications to Quality of Life Assessment," Emory Economics 1409, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    7. Bhardwaj, Ramesh, 2015. "Restraining High and Rising Cancer Drug Prices: Need for Accelerating R&D Productivity and Aligning Prices with Value," MPRA Paper 63405, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. David H. Howard & Yu-Chu Shen, 2011. "Comparative Effectiveness Research, COURAGE, and Technological Abandonment," NBER Working Papers 17371, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. McCarthy, Ian M., 2016. "Eliminating composite bias in treatment effects estimates: Applications to quality of life assessment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 47-58.
    10. Alica Stubnova Sparling & David W. Martin & Lillian B. Posey, 2017. "An Evaluation of the Proposed Worker Protection Standard with Respect to Pesticide Exposure, and Parkinson’s Disease," Working Papers 17-02, Davidson College, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2017.
    11. Alica Stubnova Sparling & David W. Martin & Lillian B. Posey, 2016. "An Evaluation of the Proposed Worker Protection Standard with Respect to Pesticide Exposure, and Parkinson’s Disease," Working Papers 16-02, Davidson College, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2016.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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