Year of Publication

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Glenn Blomquist

Abstract

Health and health care are dominant economic and political issues in the United States and many other countries. This dissertation contains two essays addressing different subjects within the field of health economics. The first essay is labor market oriented: An Economic Analysis of the Effects of Obesity on Wages. It examines the effects of overweight and obesity on the wages of men and women. The second essay, An Economic Analysis of the Impact on Health Care of Certain Medicare Provisions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 examines changes in the treatment of Medicare patients in light of reimbursement changes brought about by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. This analysis contained in An Economic Analysis of Obesity on Wages improves on previous work by using a dataset that can allow health effects to be better examined. Three series of regressions are performed, where log wage income is regressed on a series of variables including categorical variables based on body mass index. In contrast to some previous research, this analysis finds that the wages of obese individuals are not depressed by excess weight. It is possible that, because of the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity over the last 20 years, any associated stigma has dwindled. An Economic Analysis of the Impact on Health Care of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 examines the effects of one of the provisions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Specifically, the analysis examines the implementation of the Post Acute Care Transfer policy, a change to Medicare Part A, caused the length of stay for patients grouped in certain targeted diagnosis related groups (DRGs) to increase, keeping with the goal of the policy change. In analyzing the short-stay patients, the data show that patients who were grouped into the pilot DRGs and were transferred after 10/01/98 (the effective date of the policy) were not in the hospital longer than before 10/01/98, implying that hospitals might not have been exploiting a financial loophole, as thought by the Health Care Financing Administration, now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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