Jianan Yang joined the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) as the 2022-2023 Developing Asia Health Policy Postdoctoral Fellow. She recently obtained her Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California San Diego. She holds B.A. in Economics and Mathematics from the Renmin University of China. Her research lies in the intersection of development and health economics and revolves around what drives the sub-optimal healthcare-seeking behaviors in developing countries and how they can be improved by leveraging price or non-price mechanisms.
Yang views health as a fundamental part of human development. People in developing countries usually face additional barriers to accessing healthcare resources because of underqualified providers on the one side, lower income levels, insufficient insurance coverages, and a lack of information on the other side. Because markets in healthcare settings are usually characterized by imperfect competition and government regulations, Yang thinks it is important to evaluate the policies’ impacts on various aspects of the healthcare system. Through understanding the underlying constraints, we can think about how the policy can be designed more efficiently.
Yang’s dissertation studied how patients’ chronic condition drug utilization responds to price reductions in China. By documenting a larger increase in utilization and a meaningful reduction in underuse among the uninsured, the study suggests that the price elasticities would be higher in developing countries and there will be larger welfare benefits from such price reductions resulting from squeezing out the price markups of the pharmaceutical companies due to market power. The finding suggests that cost is a barrier to both drug take-up and adherence, especially among the lower-income population who meanwhile are more likely to not have insurance coverage.
At APARC, Yang further accessed the underlying factors affecting people’s healthcare-seeking behaviors including the role of cost, information, and behavioral bias. She also extended her research agenda to the other sectors of the healthcare system.