Workplace wellness programs have become increasingly common in the United States, although there is not yet consensus regarding the ability of such programs to improve employees’ health and reduce health care costs. In this paper, we study a program offered by a large U.S. employer that provides substantial financial incentives directly tied to employees’ health. The program has a high participation rate among eligible employees, around 80%, and we analyze the data on the first 4 years of the program, linked to health care claims. We document robust improvements in employee health and a correlation between certain health improvements and reductions in health care cost. Despite the latter association, we cannot find direct evidence causally linking program participation to reduced health care costs, although it seems plausible that such a relationship will arise over longer horizons.
The impact of financial incentives on health and health care: Evidence from a large wellness program – Einav – 2019 – Health Economics – Wiley Online LibraryJanuary 10, 2019
Exploring the Taxation of New York’s New Paid Family Medical Leave Benefit by Richard Barnes :: SSRNJanuary 2, 2019
This article examines the taxation of benefits received under New York’s new Paid Family Leave Act. The article argues that New York’s Paid Family Leave Act is unique when compared to similar provisions enacted in other states to date and that benefits paid under the tax are excluded from federal gross income by operation of Internal Revenue Code Sections 104 and 105. Additionally, the article contends that New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance’s Notice N-17-12 errs in concluding that amounts paid under the Act are includible in federal gross income. The article contends that insurance policies issued in compliance with the Act are “health insurance” and that income replacement benefits paid under the Act are paid for “sickness” as described in Code Sections 104 and 105.
Regulatory Pathways to Promote Treatment for Substance Use Disorder or Other Under-Treated Conditions Using Risk Adjustment by Matthew J. B. Lawrence :: SSRNOctober 19, 2018
This Commentary provides a legal analysis of the extent to which changes proposed by scholars to promote care for substance use disorder or other under-treated illnesses through risk adjustment could be implemented administratively, without legislation, in federal risk adjustment systems: Medicare’s privatized component, Medicare’s pharmaceutical component, and the individual and small group market. As the Commentary explains, federal laws governing risk adjustment provide broad discretion to regulators and can reasonably be interpreted to permit (or in the case of Part C even compel) full and final implementation through the administrative process of almost all of the changes that scholars have proposed.
Predictive analytics and “big data” are emerging as important new tools for diagnosing and treating patients. But as data collection becomes more pervasive, and as machine learning and analytical methods become more sophisticated, the companies that traffic in health-related big data will face competitive pressures to make more aggressive claims regarding what their programs can predict. Already, patients, practitioners, and payors are inundated with claims that software programs, “apps,” and other forms of predictive analytics can help solve some of the health care system’s most pressing problems. This article considers the evidence and substantiation that we should require of these claims, focusing on “health” claims, or claims to diagnose, treat, or manage diseases or other medical conditions. The problem is that three very different paradigms might apply, depending on whether we cast predictive analytics as akin to medical products, medical practice, or merely as medical information. Because big data methods are so opaque, its claims may be uniquely difficult to substantiate, requiring a new paradigm. This article offers a new framework that considers intended users and appropriate evidentiary baselines.
For recently released prisoners, the minimum wage and the availability of state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) can influence both their ability to find employment and their potential legal wages relative to illegal sources of income, in turn affecting the probability they return to prison. Using administrative prison release records from nearly six million offenders released between 2000 and 2014, we use a difference-in-differences strategy to identify the effect of over two hundred state and federal minimum wage increases, as well as 21 state EITC programs, on recidivism. We find that the average minimum wage increase of $0.50 reduces the probability that men and women return to prison within 1 year by 2.8%. This implies that on average the effect of higher wages, drawing at least some released prisoners into the legal labor market, dominates any reduced employment in this population due to the minimum wage. These reductions in returns to incarcerations are observed for the potentially revenue generating crime categories of property and drug crimes; prison reentry for violent crimes are unchanged, supporting our framing that minimum wages affect crime that serves as a source of income. The availability of state EITCs also reduces recidivism, but only for women.
This article examines the possible constructs behind the announcement by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., that they are jointly building a new healthcare entity for their employees. The article provides context by discussing and comparing the healthcare ambitions of the three largest information technology companies and argues that various forms of hybrid entities will increase their footprint in healthcare data and delivery. The core of the article is a thought experiment about the nature of what the article terms “Prime Health.” That analysis is based initially on observations about Amazon’s existing culture and business model of Amazon. Thereafter the article examines both what Prime Health could and should be, arguing that it will go beyond the pedestrian model of a very large self-funded group insurance plan, will disintermediate traditional healthcare insurers, and attempt to bring consumers and healthcare providers together into some type of online marketplace; an updated, privatized version of managed competition. The final parts of the article deal with the regulatory environment that hybrid healthcare generally and Prime Health in particular will face. The analysis includes federal device and data protection laws, some idiosyncratic state laws, and a brief discussion of the problems inherent in the limited regulation of hybrid healthcare entities.
The New Wave of Local Minimum Wage Policies: Evidence From Six Cities by Sylvia Allegretto, Anna Godøy, Carl Nadler, Michael Reich :: SSRNOctober 17, 2018
In recent years, a new wave of state and local activity has transformed minimum wage policy in the U.S. As of August 2018, ten large cities and seven states have enacted minimum wage policies in the $12 to $15 range.1 Dozens of smaller cities and counties have also enacted wage standards in this range.2 These higher minimum wages, which are being phased in gradually, will cover well over 20 percent of the U.S. workforce. With a substantial number of additional cities and states poised to soon enact similar policies, a large portion of the U.S. labor market will be held to a higher wage standard than has been typical over the past 50 years.
These minimum wage levels substantially exceed the previous peak in the federal minimum wage, which reached just under $10 (in today’s dollars) in the late 1960s. As a result, the new policies will increase pay directly for 15 to 30 percent of the workforce in these cities and as much as 40 to 50 percent of the workforce in some industries and regions. By contrast, the federal and state minimum wage increases between 1984 and 2014 increased pay directly for less than eight percent of the applicable workforce.
This report examines the effects of these new policies. Although minimum wage effects on employment have been much studied and debated, this new wave of higher minimum wages attains levels beyond the evidential reach of most previous studies. Moreover, city-level policies might have effects that differ from those of state and federal policies. Yet, most of the empirical studies of minimum wages focus on the state and federal-level policies. The literature on the effects of city-level minimum wages is much smaller. Our report helps fill these gaps.