A new bill introduced in Congress would expand health insurance coverage while reducing costs and increasing innovation.

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Sen. Mike Braun (Ind.) co-sponsored the Fair Care Act of 2020. (Photo: Sen. Mike Braun)

In Washington, it is commonly thought that the debate about health care reform is hopelessly partisan and ideologically intractable. But a group of congressmen, including Sen. Mike Braun (Ind.), Rep. Bruce Westerman (Ark.), Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), Rep. Denver Riggleman (Va.), and Rep. Lloyd Smucker (Pa.), have produced an ambitious and far-reaching health reform bill, the Fair Care Act of 2020, that could provide the basis for bridging these conventional divides.


Younger Americans appear to have a significantly lower chance of dying from COVID-19 than they do of more common infectious diseases.

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Photo: Eye for Ebony / Unsplash

(Due to high demand, this article is regularly updated. The analyses discussed below are based on CDC data as of September 9.)

As Americans struggle to understand the risks of COVID-19 relative to other infectious diseases, a common benchmark is influenza, commonly known as the flu. So what is the relative risk of dying from COVID-19 vs. the flu? The answer: it depends on your age, and also your assumptions about how deadly COVID-19 will turn out to be.

However, based on mid-range assumptions, it appears that those under 25 have a significantly lower risk of dying from COVID-19 vs. the flu, while those over 35 are at significantly greater risk. …


Congress and federal regulators have obstructed biosimilar competition, increasing patient costs by over $30 billion.

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Photo: National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

By Gregg Girvan and Avik Roy

Executive Summary

The U.S. spends well more on prescription drugs, per capita, than any other country in the world. This has long been a source of concern for American patients struggling to afford their medicines.

There are, however, those who argue that high drug prices are justified by a “social contract” under which drug companies can—and should—charge high prices while their drugs are protected by patent monopolies, in exchange for those medicines becoming effectively free once their patents have expired.

That social contract—while never perfect—works reasonably well for traditional, chemically synthesized, small molecule drugs. For these traditional drugs, when patents expire, generic drugs arrive on the market and rapidly bring prices down to commodity levels. …


The UAE’s two largest emirates have achieved universal coverage. Will the others follow?

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Photo: Fredrik Ohlander / Unsplash

Introduction

The United Arab Emirates ranks 22nd in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, with an overall score of 44.68. UAE scored highest on Fiscal Sustainability (#4, 72.61), owing to its low debt-to-GDP ratio of 19.7%, and its low public spending growth.

UAE’s heterogeneous system performed poorly in Choice (#28, 32.71) and Science & Technology (#29, 22.77), despite efforts by the Emiratis to attract foreign medical investment.

Background

The United Arab Emirates is a confederation of seven emirates—Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaima, Ajman, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain—of which the first three represent 96.5% of the population. …


Slovakia suffers from limited health insurance choices and poor health outcomes.

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Photo: Martin Katler / Unsplash

By Gregg Girvan and Avik Roy

Introduction

Slovakia ranks 26th in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, with an overall score of 41.36. Slovakia performed strongest in Fiscal Sustainability (#11, 59.80), owing to its low cost of care.

On the other hand, Slovakia performed poorly in Science & Technology (#23, 27.46) and Quality (#29, 43.70) due to its poor standing in medical infrastructure, lack of patient-centered care, and poor health outcomes.

Background

Prior to World War I, Slovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which in 1887 instituted a health care system similar to the one installed by Otto von Bismarck in Germany. …


Switzerland’s universal system of individually-purchased health insurance is a model for U.S. reform.

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By Gregg Girvan and Avik Roy

Introduction

The Swiss health care system ranks first overall out of 31 countries ranked in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, with a score of 59.56, just ahead of second-ranked Germany and third-ranked Netherlands.

Switzerland scored well across the board, but especially in Quality (#1, 73.35), thanks to a high degree of patient-centered care and high-quality infrastructure; and Fiscal Sustainability (#5, 71.06), owing to its low debt-to-GDP ratio of 14.5% and its lower dependence on public financing.

Switzerland ranked fifth for Choice (46.53), because it allows for freedom of choice both of providers and payers, under a universal private system. …


Portugal’s partly private system boasts excellent quality, but struggles to find a sustainable fiscal footing.

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Photo: Tania Mousinho / Unsplash

By Gregg Girvan, Mark Dornauer, and Avik Roy

Introduction

Portugal ranks 21st in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, with an overall score of 44.82. The Iberian nation is a top-tier performer in Quality (#3, 69.22), garnering high marks for patient-centered care and health outcomes.

Portugal’s ranking was hampered by poor scores for Science & Technology (#25, 27.01) and Fiscal Sustainability (#27, 42.88). Portugal is not a major engine of scientific discovery, and its 128% debt-to-GDP ratio of 128% is the third-highest among WIHI countries, only behind Japan and Greece.

Background

The modern Portugal health care system was founded in 1979 with the establishment of the Portuguese National Health Service. While the Portuguese NHS was originally designed as a single-payer system, private insurers began to emerge within a few years. …


America’s leadership in health care choice, science, & technology is marred by a fiscally unsustainable system of government-run care.

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Photo: Javier Matheu / Unsplash

By Gregg Girvan and Avik Roy

Introduction

The United States ranks 4th in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, with an overall score of 54.96, behind only Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. Americans are usually the first to gain access to major new medical advances, advances often discovered at American universities and developed by American companies. As a result, the U.S. ranked first for both Choice (57.65) and Science & Technology (75.14).

On the other hand, the U.S. ranked second-to-last in Fiscal Sustainability (#30, 27.33), because it is the country with the highest amount of government health care spending per capita, spending that is growing at an unsustainable rate. …


Twice weekly, Avik Roy and Scott Immergut discuss the latest coronavirus news—in 19 minutes or less.

COVID in 19 is a special show within American Wonk, FREOPP’s signature podcast. It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re enjoying COVID in 19 and American Wonk, please share it with your friends, and rate us on your favorite podcast service.

To listen to a preview of the latest episode from this web page, just click on the “play” button below.

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The odds of dying from COVID-19 vary considerably by age, especially in comparison to influenza.

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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

As Americans struggle to understand the risks of COVID-19 relative to other infectious diseases, a common benchmark is influenza, commonly known as the flu. So what is the relative risk of dying from COVID-19 vs. the flu? The answer: it depends on your age, and also your assumptions about how deadly COVID-19 will turn out to be.

However, based on mid-range assumptions, it appears that those under 25 have a significantly lower risk of dying from COVID-19 vs. the flu, while those over 35 are at significantly greater risk. …

About

Avik Roy

President, The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (@FREOPP). Policy Editor @Forbes. Sr. Advisor @BPC_Bipartisan. Pronounced “OH-vick” (thanks mom).

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