New NBER Research

1 July 2015

Medicare Upcoding

To examine upcoding – the notion that medical diagnoses may reflect efforts of health plans and providers to game the payment system – Michael Geruso and Timothy Layton compare diagnoses recorded under the traditional Medicare fee-for-service option, in which coding incentives are weak, and under Medicare Advantage, in which insurers receive diagnosis-based subsidies. Their findings imply excess public payments to Medicare Advantage plans of around $10 billion annually.

30 June 2015

Household Balance Sheets and Fiscal Stimulus

The effectiveness of fiscal stimulus at boosting consumer spending following the Great Recession was reduced by the desire of a significant fraction of households to repair their balance sheets, according to research by Claudia R. Sahm, Matthew D. Shapiro, and Joel Slemrod.

29 June 2015

Physician Practice Style and Patient Health
Outcomes: The Case of Heart Attacks

When a patient arrives at the emergency room with acute myocardial infarction, doctors must quickly decide whether to treat with clot-busting drugs or invasive surgery. Janet Currie, W. Bentley MacLeod, and Jessica Van Parys show that physicians whose practice deviates from the norm in teaching hospitals have worse patient outcomes, suggesting that a more appropriate allocation of invasive procedures could improve outcomes without increasing costs.
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New in the NBER Digest

Inequality in Latin America is Relatively High, but That's Not a Legacy
of Iberian Colonialism

Prior to the last century, Latin America had the same or less inequality than what existed in Asia, Western Europe, and the United States, according to research featured in the June edition of the NBER Digest; inequality increased sharply as commodities exports boomed in the late 19th century. Also in this month’s Digest are reports on the effect of taxation on inventors and scientists, privatization in China, the shale gas revolution, consumer purchases of energy-efficient products, and high school pupil assignment methods.

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New NBER Book
Analyzes the Digital Economy

Economic Analysis of the Digital Economy, edited by Avi Goldfarb, Shane M. Greenstein, and Catherine E. Tucker, explores the impact of digital technology on consumer and entrepreneurial behavior, media markets, and the ways in which governments determine policy. The volume, which is a National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report, is published by the University of Chicago Press. It is available in hardcover and, of course, digitally.

Is digitization destroying the music industry? As reported in a sample chapter from this new book, "Digitization and the Quality of New Media Products", it actually may improve the industry by enabling new acts to enter at low cost.

the Measurement
of Consumer Spending

Many countries, including the United States, are embarking on ambitious projects to redesign surveys of consumer expenditures, with the goal of better capturing economic heterogeneity. That makes this an appropriate time to examine the way consumer expenditures currently are measured, and the challenges and opportunities that alternative approaches might present. Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures reviews current methodologies of data collection, examines the range of objectives that expenditure surveys may satisfy, and describes how current survey practices in the United States compare with those in other nations. From The University of Chicago Press.

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