Schaeffer Center Researchers Take Part in iHEA World Congress

By: Niles Wilson

The Schaeffer Center’s Etienne Gaudette, Seth Seabury, and Neeraj Sood presented at the 2015 International Health Economics Association (iHEA) World Congress in Milan, Italy. The four day conference held July 12-15 was a collaboration of health economists worldwide and provided a forum to discuss new research on the application of economics to health and health care systems. The papers presented by Gaudette, Seabury, and Sood spanned from patent litigation to aspirin use in elderly populations to consumer price shopping.

Gaudette, policy director at the Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation, presented research on the long-term consequences of increased aspirin use for the elderly. The study, co-authored with Dana Goldman, Andrew Messali, and David Agus, conducted simulations of full compliance with aspirin recommendations to predict health trajectories for outcomes such as disability status, quality of life, and medical costs. In addition to presenting his research, Gaudette co-organized a session titled International Microsimulation of Aging and Health, a collaboration between the Roybal Center and other international institutes. “This conference is a great venue for us to present to the world the international work done by the Roybal Center and find new opportunities for international collaboration,” said Gaudette about the session.

Shifting to the effects of patent litigation on pharmaceutical innovation, Seabury presented a working paper that analyzed patent challenges brought by generic drug manufacturers against branded manufacturers and the relationship to drug prices. The study’s findings suggest that these challenges by generics increase the entry of generic drugs to the market, lower drug prices and increase quantity, whereas “pay-for-delay” settlements between the manufacturers do the reverse.  Seabury also served as chair for an additional session titled The New Health Economics of Nutritional Interventions.

Focusing on his research on high deductible health plans, Sood presented results from two research projects: “The Long Term Effects of Consumer Directed Health Plans (CDHPs) on Use of Preventive Care” and “Price Shopping for Physicians in High Deductible Health Plans.” Sood found evidence that patients who enrolled in CDHPs experienced no differences in their use of preventive care and therefore, reduced preventive care is not the source of health care cost savings for high deductible health plan enrollees. In his second project, Sood’s research asked whether HDHPs were savings money by encouraging enrollees to shop for lower cost care; his findings suggest that while such price shopping did occur, the resultant savings were minimal.

Reflecting on iHEA Sood said, “The iHEA conference is a good reminder that improving health and health care are critical issues around the world, and we have strong global community of health economists trying to make a difference.”

The four-day conference in Milan comprised of a total of 324 concurrent sessions, plenaries, and poster sessions with over 900 papers presented on the theme of “De Gustibus Disputandum Non Est! Health Economics and Nutrition.”