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Choose Health Coverage Like An Economist

Picking an insurance plan can be a little like this.
Picking an insurance plan can be a little like this.

If you want to eat well, find out where the chefs go after they clock out.

If you're wondering how to deal with a health problem, ask your doctor what she'd do for her mom.

And if you're puzzling over which insurance plan to pick, take a look at how some health economists size them up.

Clever journalist got some big names in the world of health economics to reveal details about their insurance status. And you might learn a thing or two from their thinking.

She rounds it up in a piece for The LDI Health Economist, an online health policy magazine from Penn's Leonard Davis Institute.

University of Minnesota's Stephen Parente has a high-deductible plan, which left him on the hook for $400 a month to cover a brand-name drug. He found a generic at Costco for $21. Lesson: Spend some of the money you're saving on premiums with a high-deductible plan on a warehouse club.

University of Pennsylvania's Mark Pauly, a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, has a traditional insurance plan with the most benefits. It's the most expensive one Penn offers. He's 70 and could go with Medicare, but the private plan gives him more options and he spends pretax money on it.

Harvard's Micheal Chernew went with an HMO that has a "typical benefit structure." He figured there was no reason not to. "It was really based on our perception of the available providers," Chernew told Brin.

There's a great sidebar with useful links to sites that can help you navigate the lingo and choices of health insurance.

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Scott Hensley edits stories about health, biomedical research and pharmaceuticals for NPR's Science desk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the desk's reporting on the development of vaccines against the coronavirus.