HCEO recently spoke with HI network member Rebecca Myerson about her work studying health policy, and how policy changes affect both health and behavior.

One recent study looked at data from New York counties that put in place trans fat restrictions from 2007 to 2011. Myerson and her co-authors found that among these counties, there was a 6.2 percent decline in hospital admissions for heart attacks and strokes. These findings are significant, the authors note, as the US Food and Drug Administration plans to implement a nationwide restriction on trans fats in 2018. 

"In much of my current work I also collaborate with epidemiologists and medical doctors, which is something I really value," Myerson says. "There's something we can learn from the epidemiological approach of following patients over time and tracking their risk factors. It actually merges really nicely with the economic approach of focusing on how patients make their healthcare decisions over time."

Myerson also discusses how information barriers in health care can affect how people access coverage. "Addressing information barriers and not just cost barriers will be important in creating a healthcare system that works for everyone," she says. Survey data has shown that many people don't understand health care terms, issues, or coverage options. 

She is also interested in studying health care quality metrics. For example, the pay-for-performance model has recently become a popular way to try to improve health care quality. Yet, Myerson notes, this model can have unintended consequences related to how providers select their patients. "Care needs to be taken in designing health system performance metrics," she says, "that don't penalize providers for taking on vulnerable patients."

Myerson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Health Economics.