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Victor R. Fuchs
Institution Stanford University
Field Health economics
Alma mater Columbia University (Ph.D.)(M.A.)
New York University (B.S.)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Victor R. Fuchs is an American health economist. He has been called "the dean of health economists" by New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt.[1]

He is the Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. Professor at Stanford University, emeritus.[2] Since 1962, he has been a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and is the co-director of the FRESH-Thinking Project, CASBS, at Stanford University.[3] In 1995 he served as president of the American Economic Association.[4]

A Comparison Between the United States and Canada[edit]

Also, Fuchs published a paper with James S. Hahn in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “How Does Canada Do it? – A comparison of Expenditures for Physicians’ Services in the United States and Canada”. This paper discusses the differences in the Canadian and US healthcare spending patterns and also discusses why healthcare expenditures are so much higher in the United States. They found that the higher US expenditures were entirely based on higher fees for services, at 234% higher than Canada, even though there are more physicians per capita in Canada. This proves that the typical view of Canada saving money by delivering fewer services is false, and that the insurance setup, being a single-payer system, is what gives them the edge. [5]

This empirical analysis published in 1990 sharpened our understanding of the differences in physicians’ services between the United States and Canada regarding fees, spending, and utilization. The accentuating difference begins with the disparity in health care coverage; Canada operates under a universal health care system, which covers majority of their residents. On the other hand, the United States operates under a fragmented multi-payer system that inevitably fails to provide coverage for many Americans. [6] Moreover, the lack of correspondence between both countries regarding health care coverage validates part of the narrative reported in the Fuchs and Hahn study, which concluded that the US spent more on physicians’ services than Canada. [7]

Health care coverage in Canada provides more services at lower costs by virtue of negotiated physician fees between physician organizations and the provincial governments, as well as other limits placed on spending. [8] Furthermore, the results from this study also suggest that higher expenditures in the US is a function of many factors including higher wages earned by US physicians, the difference of physicians on demand, billing costs, quality of health care, physicians’ workload, and superfluous amenities. Notably, these factors bring to question the underlying differences in health care delivery, in which the authors reported a larger number of general practitioners in Canada for visits per capita. The limited role of general practitioners in the US compared to Canada may imply that Canadian physicians are “more inclined to recommend additional evaluation and management services.”[9] The evidence to validate that general practitioners provide more quality care than specialty physicians is inconclusive, thus more research is necessary. [10]

The lower quantity of physician services per capita coupled with higher expenditures is an example of the fundamental inefficiencies embedded within the fragmented multi-payer health care system in the US.[11] Thus a concerted effort to reform these inefficiencies has been made by the US government, which resulted in the adoption of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a noteworthy addition to the health care system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The advent of this key piece of legislation is shifting the payment of care in the US from the inefficiencies of fee-for-service to payment models grounded on improved outcomes and lower health care spending.[12] Specifically, some of these models reduce costs through a team-based approach known as a medical home, which are often led by a general practitioner. Furthermore, congress is currently working on a “permanent doc fix” to control Medicare spending on physician services, also known as the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). [13] Since the publication of the Fuchs and Hahn article in 1990, important changes in health care policy have taken place, the outcome of these policy changes have the potential to resolve the exorbitant expenditures for physicians’ services in the US.


  1. ^ New York Times, 8/25/2009
  2. ^ Victor R. Fuchs, Stanford University
  3. ^ Fresh Thinking Project
  4. ^ http://www.aeaweb.org/honors_awards/officerspast.php
  5. ^ Fuchs, Victor. "How Does Canada Do It? – A Comparison of Expenditures for Physicians’ Services in the United States and Canada", The New England Journal of Medicine, 27 September 1990.
  6. ^ PBS Newshour. (2009, October 6). Comparing International Health Care Systems. PBS NewsHour. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/health-july-dec09-insurance_10-06
  7. ^ Fuchs, Victor. "How Does Canada Do It? – A Comparison of Expenditures for Physicians’ Services in the United States and Canada", The New England Journal of Medicine, 27 September 1990.
  8. ^ Folland,S., Goodman, A., & Stano, M. (2013). The Economics of Health and Health Care. (Ed.).New Jersey: Pearson Education.
  9. ^ Fuchs, Victor. "How Does Canada Do It? – A Comparison of Expenditures for Physicians’ Services in the United States and Canada", The New England Journal of Medicine, 27 September 1990.
  10. ^ Primary Care Physicians. (n.d.), Retrieved March 15, 2014 from the Wiki: /wiki/Primary_care_physician#Studies_of_the_quality_of_care_providedby_primary_care_physicians
  11. ^ Folland,S., Goodman, A., & Stano, M. (2013). The Economics of Health and Health Care. (Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education.
  12. ^ Cameron, D. (2012, July 11). Moving Beyond Health Care’s Fee-For-Service: Global Budget Payment Model Lowers Medical Spending, Improves Quality. Harvard Gazette.Retrieved from http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/07/moving-beyond-health- cares-fee-for-service/
  13. ^ Kliff, S. (2014, February 7). The Doc-fix is in: Congress Actually Has a Plan to Overhaul Doctor Payments. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/02/07/the-doc-fix-is-in-congress-actually-has-a-plan-to-overhaul-doctor-payments

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Fuchs — Please support Wikipedia.
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131 news items

New York Times (blog)
Thu, 13 Mar 2014 21:01:28 -0700

Victor R. Fuchs is Professor Emeritus of Economics and Health Research and Policy at Stanford University, and author of “Who Shall Live? Health, Economics and Social Choice.” Americans spend more than 17 percent of GDP on health care; other high ...
New York Times
Mon, 05 Mar 2012 15:36:51 -0800

“If we solve our health care spending, practically all of our fiscal problems go away,” said Victor Fuchs, emeritus professor of economics and health research and policy at Stanford University. And if we don't? “Then almost anything else we do will not ...
Washington Post (blog)
Fri, 15 Jul 2011 08:49:00 -0700

Stanford economist Victor Fuchs's expanded second edition of “Who Shall Live?,” which applies economic theory to health and medical care, has been released this month and is as relevant today as it was when first published in 1974. Fuchs spoke to Scope ...
Scope (blog)
Mon, 02 Jul 2012 08:51:57 -0700

In case you didn't see it over the weekend, the New York Times ran a feature on how health care might now unfold in light of last week's Supreme Court decision. Among the experts who weighed in was Stanford health economist Victor Fuchs, PhD, who ...
Scope (blog)
Thu, 14 Jul 2011 09:06:46 -0700

Thirty-seven years ago, Stanford economist Victor Fuchs, PhD, penned Who Shall Live?, a book that took basic ideas in economic theory and applied them to health and medical care in a way that hadn't been done before. His now-classic publication, which ...


Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:03:45 -0700

Stanford professor Victor Fuchs recently pointed out something that might surprise many critics of the U.S. health care system. There is no positive relationship between per capita health spending and life expectancy. He demonstrates this with data ...
New England Journal of Medicine (subscription)
Wed, 22 Oct 2008 14:08:04 -0700

A strong case for comprehensive reform of the U.S. health care system has been made many times. The high cost of care, the large number of uninsured people, and the rapid increase in expenditures year after year have convinced many that our system is a ...
Scope (blog)
Tue, 20 Mar 2012 17:30:07 -0700

Stanford's Victor Fuchs, PhD, is all for eliminating waste and driving down costs associated with health care – and he believes this type of economization can start at the beginning, with medical education. In a Viewpoint piece he co-authored with ...

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