Friday, May 8, 2015

Over Four Million Dollars to Save a Life?

Enjoy the ride!
Lebron James fan Jason Shafrin of the Healthcare Economist blog hosts the latest edition of the Health Wonk Review.  It's not only fit for a king, it's also fit for any student of health policy that wants unique insights unavailable anywhere else. 

Lots of learning with links can be found here.

The Population Health Blog's recent post on the life-saving attributes of health insurance is included in Jason's Review.  In it, the PHB points out that mandating coverage for 830 persons to save one life is not welcome news.

Docs like the PHB conventionally (and arbitrarily) believe that a reasonable "number needed to treat" (the number of patients that have to be exposed to a treatment in order to achieve a successful outcome) is less than a hundred.  Start going higher than that, and we begin to worry that the treatment may be worse than the disease.

Attach dollars to it and the number becomes even more telling.  Assuming an average health insurance policy "costs" $5000 per year, that's a back-of-the envelope cost of $4.15 million per life saved.  While the PHB would be the first to point out that every life is precious, that falls outside usual assessments of cost-effectiveness.

Bottom line?  These data suggest that we can save lives by mandating insurance, but there is no free ride.

In fact, this one is gold plated.

Image from Wikipedia

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.