• Deadly physical examination requirements

    This article investigates the effect on health outcomes of the regulation prohibiting physicians from prescribing drugs without a prior physical examination. This requirement could improve health by reducing illegal access to prescription drugs. However, it reduces access to health care by making it more difficult for patients and physicians to use many forms of telemedicine. Thus, this regulation generates a trade-off between access and safety. Using matching techniques, we find that the physician examination requirement leads to an increase of 1% in mortality rates from disease, the equivalent of 8.5 more deaths per 100,000 people, and a decrease of 6.7% in injury mortality, the equivalent of 2.5 deaths per 100,000 people. The magnitude of these effects is larger in rural areas and in areas with low physician density and is accompanied by an 18% increase in the number of days lost each month to illness.

    More in a new paper by Anca M. Cotet, Daniel K. Benjamin, and John E. Walker. I have not read the details.

    @afrakt (via iPad)

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    • British Columbia’s right-of-center provincial government announced last month that family doctors will be able to charge $15 for telephone calls with patients. The reason: “B.C.’s health minister said Friday that compensating doctors for phone calls will dial down their workloads and help free them up to see more patients at the office, but it’s just one piece of the plan to keep costs in check as the government strives to balance the budget.” http://www.globaltvbc.com/doctors+advice+in+bc+is+a+phone+call+away+as+government+pays+15+per+call/6442814669/story.html

      I hope this means that more lower-income sicker patients will get more face-time with my family doctor because I don’t have to go into his office every 3 or 6 months to review lab work results.