In today's economy, for better or for worse, taking out a loan to cover the cost of a major expense--a new car, a new home, or a new baby--is commonplace. So why not apply that thinking to healthcare? Specifically, expensive medicine. That's exactly what MIT Sloan Professor Andrew Lo and his colleagues Vahid Montazerhodjat and David M. Weinstock are proposing in response to the ever-escalating cost of prescription medicine.
It's known as the "healthcare loan (HCL)" and is not unlike a home mortgage where a large expense is broken into smaller monthly payments that stretch over years. Everybody wins. Patients get the medicine they need. Drug makers reap the profits of a lucrative marketplace, and banks are able to bundle loans and resell their related cash flows to third-party investors (otherwise known as securitization). In their research, numerical simulations suggest that securitization is viable for a wide range of economic environments and cost parameters, allowing a much broader patient population to access transformative therapies while also aligning the interests of patients, payers, and the pharmaceutical industry.
"The basic idea is to create a new financial entity that offers healthcare loans to patients, issues bonds and equity to investors, and the proceeds from these new issues are used to pay for the loans," writes Lo and his co-authors in a recent article published in Science Translational Medicine.
Lo explains this concept as similar to today's home mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and other large consumer purchases. "As patients pay interest and principal on these loans, these payments flow through to the bondholders, and once all the bonds are paid off, the remaining funds go to the equity holders," Lo recently told Medscape Medical News.