PODCAST: “Inelastic” Demand in Healthcare

Economic Implications of Pain Suffering and Imminent Death?

Inelastic Demand in Healthcare: Economic Implications of Pain, Suffering and Imminent Death.


By Eric Bricker, MD

Inelastic Demand Occurs When the Quantity Demanded for a Good or Service Does NOT Change When the Price Changes.

Citation: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

Consequently, When the Supply of a Healthcare Service is Limited, then the Price Goes Up … Way Up, Since the Quantity Demanded Does Not Change.

Examples of Inelastic Demand with Limited Supply in Healthcare Are:

1) Emergencies

2) Patented Medications for Diseases That Have No Other Alternatives

3) Doctor Specialties Where the Patient Has No Choice in the Services Such As Radiologists, Anesthesiologists and Pathologists

The High-Cost Claimants with Inelastic Demand Drive the Majority of Healthcare Costs for a Group.  They Generally Fall into 3 Diagnosis Categories: 1) Orthopedics, 2) Cardiovascular and 3) Cancer.

Orthopedics Should Be the 1st Priority for Lowering Healthcare Costs for a Population … While Demand May be Inelastic, Usually There is Choice and Not a Limited Supply of Orthopedic Services.

Efforts in Orthopedics Should Focus on Increasing Choice, Such as Free Travel to Centers-of-Excellence with Bundled Pricing.

Cardiovascular Care and Cancer Care Tend to Have Inelastic Demand AND Limited Supply. Therefore, the Best Way to Lower Healthcare Costs in These Areas is Through Prevention.

ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated.



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