Reflex: August 18, 2011

Our daily, brief response to some health-related items in the news.

Cuts in health care may undermine role in labor market: Reed Abelson and Katie Thomas report in the NYT that job growth in the health sector is unlikely to continue at its recent fast pace due to cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. My comment: What we need from the health sector, long term, is greater productivity. Slower job growth in the sector can be part of that. However, what we need in the short term from all sectors, health included, is job growth. But more workers in health means higher cost, the source of our long-term debt problems. Catch-22, though it’s really a short-term, long-term thing.

New health insurance rules would let consumers compare plans in ‘plain English’: Washington Posts’s N.C. Aizenman describes the Administration’s proposed health plan summaries that are supposed to make shopping for plans easier. My comment: Search frictions, my friends. See my posts today on this topic (one out, one forthcoming). See also a new Health Affairs article by McWilliams and colleagues about Medicare beneficiaries’ challenges in making decisions among complex plan options.

(h/t: Stories brought to my attention by Ezra Klein’s Wonkbook.)

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