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Key lessons from EEP 145

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Health and environmental economist Michael Anderson’s undergraduate course on public policy focuses on how much money society invests in public health, what types of policies work, and why. His class explores issues of public goods, market failures, and how people behave differently when they are insulated from risk.

With healthcare reform at the top of the national agenda, Breakthroughs asked Anderson to share key lessons he hopes will stick with his students — and with you:

  • The U.S. spends twice as much per person on healthcare as any other developed country, yet our health measures are no better.
  • Medical care, environmental improvements, and public health programs can all improve a population’s health. From an economist’s perspective, the best investments are those that save the most lives per dollar.
  • It is virtually impossible for a family to buy reasonably priced private health insurance because, generally, anyone who needs to buy high-priced health insurance is likely to already be very sick. This type of “adverse selection” will continue to occur as long as healthy individuals can choose not to purchase insurance. This is why the prospect of requiring everyone to purchase health insurance is always an issue in healthcare reform.

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