Health Care in Perspective: Policymaking and the Hippocratic Oath

Apr 20, 2005Apr 22, 2005


Session 1:  Wednesday, April 20 
The Rising Costs of Prescription Drugs
Dr. Jeffrey Milyo
Associate Professor, Department of Economics
University of Missouri at Columbia

Session 2: Thursday, April 21 
Insuring the Uninsured 
Dr. Jeffrey Milyo
Associate Professor, Department of Economics
University of Missouri at Columbia

Session 3: Friday, April 22 
Medical Malpractice Reform 
Dr. Jonathan Klick, J.D. 
College of Law, Florida State University 

Congressional offices of both chambers and parties routinely field complaints about the U.S. health care system.  Constituents, interest groups, and state government officials express growing concern over rising costs, limited choices, and increasing numbers of uninsured Americans.  Paradoxically, just as public awareness of these challenges grows, so too grows the scope and quantity of medical breakthroughs.  Indeed, our health care industry continues to produce new treatments and innovations, and our hospitals and medical research centers attract the most skilled physicians from across the world.   What do these conflicting images of our health care system mean for policymakers attempting to enhance the system and solve its problems?

As our leaders search for answers, competing interests are ready to offer an “obvious solution” or “quick fix.”  Some claim that price controls on prescription drugs will help the most.  Others believe the government should act as a single buyer for the health needs of all Americans to control costs and provide full coverage.  Others still seek to curb frivolous law suits and reduce government regulation of the health care industry.  But how can we asses these competing claims?  What is the best measure for understanding the complexity of health care issues?

This three-day course will explore the economic incentives and realities related to our current health care situation by examining these topics under the lens of economics. By providing an economic framework for understanding health markets and institutions, the course will provide congressional staffers the economic foundation needed to effectively evaluate health policy concerns that cross their desks.

Participants in this course will address such questions as:

  • Why are health care costs rising? What is the relationship between health insurance and health care costs?  How might health insurance affect health outcomes?
  • Why is the cost of medical liability insurance increasing for doctors around the country?  Is there a need for reform?  If so, what shape should reform take in order to preserve incentives and safety? Will malpractice reforms attract or repel physicians to the industry?
  • How can the costs of new drug research and development be justified when some people cannot afford current drug prices?
  • Should pharmaceutical firms to be allowed to advertise directly to consumers? How does advertising affect prescription drug costs?