Rice health economist available to comment on TIME story

David Ruth
713-348-6327
david@rice.edu

Jeff Falk
713-348-6775
jfalk@rice.edu

 Rice health economist available to comment on TIME story

HOUSTON – (Feb. 26, 2013) – Vivian Ho, the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, a professor of economics at Rice and a professor in the Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, is available to comment on Steven Brill’s lengthy TIME magazine article, “Bitter pill: why medical bills are killing us,” that cites examples of the cost of health care run amok and the outlook for consumers when the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) is fully enacted.

“When the major provisions of the ACA are implemented in 2014, the likelihood of the unfortunate cases described in the TIME magazine article will decrease,” Ho said. “Uninsured patients are forced to pay the highest prices for health care (or go without), because they lack the bargaining power of a large insurer to negotiate prices for them when they become extremely ill.

“Obamacare will introduce penalties for employers who do not provide insurance coverage to their full-time workers, provide subsidies to those who can’t purchase coverage through an employer and create health insurance exchanges that will make it easier for people to shop for affordable coverage,” she said.

“At the same time, this article highlights an aspect of health care that was not addressed in the ACA. We need more price competition among health care providers in order to drive down costs. There is little price transparency in the system, so consumers are unaware of the vast price differentials across providers. Even then, generous health insurance discourages consumers from shopping for health care. If insurers offered to share the cost savings that could be achieved by patients choosing more efficient health care providers, we’d all be better off,” Ho said.

To schedule an interview with Ho to discuss the TIME article or other health economics issues, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

The Baker Institute has a radio (ISDN) and HD television studio available for media who want to schedule an interview with Ho or other Baker Institute fellows or scholars.

-30-

This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Follow the Baker Institute via Twitter @BakerInstitute.

Vivian Ho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related materials:

Ho biography: http://bakerinstitute.org/personnel/fellows-scholars/vho.

Brill’s TIME article: http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/20/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/#ixzz2M0vSfTFP.

Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.