Zarek Brot-Goldberg is the recipient of this year’s Richard M. Scheffler Prize in Health Economics. He is being recognized for his PhD thesis in health economics. During the 2019-2020 academic year, he will be a postdoctoral associate at the Tobin Center for Economic Policy at Yale. The following year, he will be an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
A recent Petris Center study finding double the rate of anxiety in millennials since 2008 was featured in the Sacramento Bee on April 29th. This study has brought widespread attention to the growing mental health problem and will hopefully spark action within the university system.
Professor Scheffler spoke about a recent study finding an increase in anxiety disorder among college students. He presented these findings as part of “A Generation Under Pressure: Talking Mental Health at UC Berkeley,” an event hosted by the Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans as part of the Goldman School of Public Policy on April 18th.
On April 20th, Professor Scheffler was interviewed on KCBS Radio regarding a recent study describing the dramatic uptick in anxiety disorder among millennials. The study found the increase in anxiety disorder to be associated with financial strain and increased screen time on social networks.
A study describing the rise of anxiety disorder in college students was highlighted in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 18th. The Petris Center study found that increasing rates of anxiety are correlated with increased tech and social media use, as well as financial struggles. Anxiety has grown faster than other mental health problems, such as depression. In 2016, 1 in 5 students on campus were diagnosed with anxiety disorder, with only 1 in 10 in 2008. This study points to an urgency to address anxiety in millennials, on campus and off.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Richard Scheffler gave a presentation during the “Strategic Outlook on the Health Care Market” session as part of the UCI Health Care Forecast Conference on March 11, 2019. Scheffler focused on healthcare consolidation, mainly centered on current trends in hospital consolidation and the impact on prices in California. HHI (a measure of consolidation) and hospital prices demonstrate a positive correlation among California counties. Scheffler also touches on “large” vertical mergers including CVS-Aetna and Cigna-Express Scripts.
Consolidation in California’s Health Care Market 2010-2016: Impact on Prices and ACA Premiums,” a paper published by the Petris Center in 2018 was featured in a CHCF Blog Post on March 1, 2019. The post, titled “The Price Isn’t Right,” included this report as evidence supporting consolidation leading to higher prices. The report found that 44 of California’s 58 counties have highly concentrated hospital markets and six others have moderately concentrated hospital markets. The Petris Center has continued to study consolidation and its impact on prices.
Richard Scheffler and Steven Shortell’s letter-to-the-editor and paper “The Seven Percent Solution: Costing and Financing Universal Health Coverage in California” was featured in a February 24th opinion piece in the New York Times. The letter addresses the possibility to implement universal care in California via a public/private model. Given that Medicare-for-All will be in the spotlight during the 2020 election, it is important to consider alternatives to achieving universal coverage.
Health Affairs published a blog post on February 8th describing the a new paper by the Petris Center. The paper “proposes an alternative path to move California towards universal coverage using a two-pronged approach: controlling high health care costs and employing novel sources of financing for universal coverage. This plan would provide health coverage to 3.55 million uninsured Californians, including low-income and undocumented persons, as well as those who receive only partial Medicaid benefits in line with the definition of insured used by the Congressional Budget Office. The key element of this approach is the use of risk-based capitated care delivery models.”
In a December 27th article published in the Wall Street Journal, the Petris Center contributed an analysis demonstrating the growing trends for physicians being employed by hospitals rather than by medical groups or independent practices, seen in a graphic in the article. The article provides insight into the increasingly higher costs of care when provided by a hospital group as compared to a doctor’s office. It also points to doctors referring their patients to hospitals that they are affiliated with, despite the higher costs for not only the insurer, but in out-of-pocket costs for patients. This article describes the growing trend of hospital acquisitions of physician groups and the resulting increase in prices for patients, but it mainly focuses on the knowledge asymmetry of doctors referring patients to a more expensive option they are affiliated with and often times are “required” by their employer to recommend.