We hope your thinking about the economics of the end of life were challenged in this episode with palliative care physician Becky Liddicoat Yamarik.

We’ve taking a slightly different direction in this Extra…We’re pleased to introduce our first EconTalk Playlist, along with some prompts for thinking about the economics of health and health care. If the Yamarik episode intrigued you, too, we hope you’ll enjoy visiting (or revisiting!) these past health-related episodes.

We hope you enjoy it, and start your own conversations offline.


Too much choice?

In economics, we consistently emphasize the value of individual choice. But according to Becy Liddicoat Yamarik, sometimes choice can be problematic. Indeed she wonders whether her own specialty- palliative care- is really necessary. Is the complexity of end-of-life care today simply too great?

Is American health care really that bad?

A lot of breath is spent identifying the flaws in the American health care system. Yet 2012 guest Scott Atlas argues that relative to other countries, America’s system is top-notch. How does health and health care compare across countries? And what measures are best used to make such comparisons? (And coming soon to EconTalk–Emily Oster talking about infant mortality rates in the US relative to the rest of the world).

Making health care decisions

Is there something about the human brain that prevents us from thinking rationally about health care, as Robin Hanson suggests in this 2007 episode? Think about some of the patient stories Yamarik relates. To what extent can Hanson’s argument explain the behavior of any of these patients and/or their families?

Costs and consequences

Do programs like Medicaid have the (unintended?) consequence of reducing individual’s stress regarding their health and health care, as the Oregon Medicaid study seemed to suggest? What are the effects of the Medicare and Medicaid on the sorts of end-of-life issues Yamarik faces each day?

See this EconTalk episode with Arnold Kling for a discussion of specialization in hospitals. Do you think the amount of specialization is a natural result or is it driven by policy decisions coming from government? Here is John Cochrane’s vision for how health care might work if government played a smaller role.

The emergence of palliative care

Why do we face seemingly more end-of-life issues today? In this 2008 episode with Steven Lipstein, he suggests that as a result of cost-sharing, people defer health care expenditures, later suffering hospitalizations and/or complications that may have been avoidable. To what extent is this a convincing explanation?

Why does palliative care so often “infantilize” patients, as D.G. Myers suggests? How can palliative care be improved?