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Articles by John Hoff

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Jason D. Fodeman: Choosing a $10 medical test over a $10,000 one August 22, 2014

The Washington Times, August 21, 2014

Research published last week in the British Medical Journal Open provides interesting insight into the cause of rising health care costs. Analysis of the study raises concerns that Obamacare could ultimately bend the cost curve up. The University of California at San Francisco research studied variations in the average charges of 10 commonly ordered outpatient blood tests in California hospitals in 2011, using data from the reports of nonfederal, general acute-care California hospitals to the California Office of Statewide Health and Planning Development.

The researchers uncovered significant and substantial variation in hospital charges across the Golden State. For example, the median charge for a basic metabolic panel (a routine laboratory test that includes such tests as sodium, potassium and glucose) was $214. Yet, for the 189 California hospitals that reported this test, the charges ranged between $35 and $7,303.

The authors found an even greater range for the 178 California hospitals that reported the charge of a lipid panel. The median California hospital charged $220 for this test with a range of $10 to $10,169. Hence the maximum charge was more than a thousand times the minimum.

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Characteristics of the Population With Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005–2013 by Paul Fronstin, Ph.D., in Employee Benefit Research Institute Notes July 28, 2014 , Notes, April, 2014

In 2001, a handful of employers started offering health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)—a then-new type of health plan. The most prevalent HRA-plan design then had a deductible of at least $1,000 for employee-only coverage along with a tax-preferred account that could be tapped by workers and their families to pay out-of-pocket health care expenses. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 included a provision to allow individuals with certain high-deductible health plans to contribute to a health savings account (HSA).

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Labor-force Participation Rates of the Population Ages 55 and Older, 2013, by Craig Copeland, Ph.D., in Employee Benefit Research Institute Notes July 28, 2014 , , , Notes, April, 2014

The labor-force participation rate for those ages 55 and older rose throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, when it began to level off but with a small increase following the 2007–2008 economic downturn.

For those ages 55–64, the upward trend was driven almost exclusively by the increased labor-force participation of women, whereas the male participation rate was flat to declining. However, among those ages 65 or older,
the rate increased for both males and females over that period.

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John McLaughry in National Review Online: The First Single-Payer Domino July 15, 2014 , ,

National Review, July 15, 2014

As Obamacare, beset with calamities, enters its fourth year, the cerulean-blue state of Vermont is well into its fourth year of preparing to astonish America by installing Canadian-style single-payer health care. To understand the political dynamics of this plan, it’s necessary to go back to the 2010 election for governor.

After eight able years at the helm, much of it spent deflecting left-wing (known locally as “Sanderista,” after socialist senator Bernie Sanders) legislative initiatives, popular Republican governor Jim Douglas stepped down. Five Democrats leaped into the race to succeed him.

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