A simple question shows how complex the issue is. Chris at "Cynical C" asks his fellow citizens where they get thier health care (insurance) from and the incredible diversity of the current options and situations is immediately apparent. Quite spontaneously (but surely not unexpectedly), the question of "How much does it cost you?" becomes an essential part of the answers. Outsiders opine and tell stories and commiserate. [more inside]
Three committees of the United States House of Representatives have released the House's version of healthcare reform--the America's Affordable Health Choices Act. The bill [1000 page pdf] [summary] introduces a Health Insurance Exchange, minimum standards for benefit packages, protections for consumers, and a "level playing field" public insurance option with the right to use Medicare rates for the first three years. Initial reactions are positive.
Can You Spot a Lobbyist? Who made up the bulk of the audience when Congress began work on health care reform legislation? Lobbyists, according to this photo ID-crowdsourcing project, part of Dollar Politics, a new NPR investigative series. Bill Moyers shines some sunlight too, with Some Choice Words for 'The Select Few.'
"But what I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls ... It was almost-- what country am I in? I just it just didn't seem to be a possibility that I was in the United States."
Bill Moyers Interviews Former Cigna PR Chief Wendell Potter Cigna's former head of Corporate Communications discusses about how Insurance companies have fought against public health care in the U.S, How wallstreet's demands drive up profits, how they do it, and why he quit. transcript
How I lost my health insurance at the hairstylist's is one story among millions about the insanity of US health care. 59% of the American public and 59% of physicians support single-payer national health insurance, but in a recent prime time town-hall meeting on health reform proposals, ABC did not air a single question about single-payer. HELP is on the way. At a HELP hearing on single-payer, Kucinich pwned a doctor who claimed Canadian health care was worse than the US's.
How Safeway Is Cutting Health-Care Costs - "At Safeway we believe that well-designed health-care reform, utilizing market-based solutions, can ultimately reduce our nation's health-care bill by 40%. The key to achieving these savings is health-care plans that reward healthy behavior... 70% of all health-care costs are the direct result of behavior... 74% of all costs are confined to four chronic conditions (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity). Furthermore, 80% of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is preventable, 60% of cancers are preventable, and more than 90% of obesity is preventable." [1,2] cf. Wyden's Third Way & Healthcare CEOs Shoot Themselves in the Foot [more inside]
The Cost Conundrum: What a Texas town can teach us about health care. Via Musings of a Distractible Mind.
Single-payer health care advocates arrested at Senate hearing. On May 5, 2009 advocates of a U.S. national health care program disrupted a Senate Finance Committee event to call for single-payer healthcare to be part of the discussion. The eight protesters were subsequently arrested. The protesters included representatives of Physicians for a National Health Program, which favors the The United States National Health Care Act, H.R. 676. Committee Chair Max Baucus (D - Montana), who has received more money in contributions from health insurance companies than any other member of Congress, favors requiring Americans to purchase private health insurance from those companies. Baucus, who has previously said that single-payer is "off the table," responded to the doctors and their fellow activists with, “I want you to know I care deeply about your views," and then, "we need more police [to eject protesters]."
"We're a demonstration project, if you would, of all the things that can go wrong at once." "You know Yolanda, I think most people watching this interview think to themselves that if they get cancer and they don't have health insurance that somebody’s going to take care of them," Pelley remarked. "No, no, there's nobody to take care of you," she said. [more inside]
Julie Louise Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H., first female director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is resigning her post effective January 20th. While subject to criticism for her management of the agency and failure to mollify the autism community over issues of vaccine safety, she was a straight (if silenced) shooter on global warming and her efforts to restructure the CDC as a prevention-oriented agency are to be commended.
Necessary Angels. They are not doctors. They are not nurses. They are illiterate women from India's Untouchable castes. Yet as trained village health workers, they are delivering babies, curing disease, and saving lives—including their own. Photo Gallery. Video.
Search for an Rx - We asked Johns Hopkins administrators, physicians, and researchers about the health of a system Americans rely on to keep them healthy. Afterall, an ounce of prevention... [more inside]
The invisible hand of the Free Market guides insurance payments to hospitals "Call it the best-kept secret in Massachusetts medicine: Health insurance companies pay a handful of hospitals far more for the same work even when there is no evidence that the higher-priced care produces healthier patients. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true: Massachusetts General Hospital, for example, earns 15 percent more than Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for treating heart-failure patients even though government figures show that Beth Israel has for years reported lower patient death rates."
What's wrong with primary care in the US? With a new survey suggesting that nearly half of all primary care physicians would leave medicine if they had a viable alternative, and with American medical schools not generating nearly enough new doctors going into primary care, in this, their first issue to hit doctors' desks since the election, the New England Journal of Medicine has devoted their entire editorial section to exploring yet another challenge that threatens the stability of the US health care system. Video of the roundtable discussion. Individual essays, at times touching, at times hopeful, from various primary care perspectives in the US and Britain. [more inside]
£35,000-a-year kidney cancer drugs too costly for NHS: Sutent offers to extend a kidney or GIST cancer patient's life by about 26 months, but the British NHS refuses to fund it, citing "marginal benefit at quite often an extreme cost."
RocketBoom's co-founder Andrew Baron found out last week that his father had Multiple Myeloma, and likely less than 48 hours to live. Then a miracle occured. A drug that could save his father's life existed. However the drug was not approved by the FDA to be used this way. They sought and quickly got approval from the FDA. But now, the drug's manufacturer Biogen won't approve usage despite pleas to Biogen's president from Lance Burton, President Clinton, and others. Read this open letter and request for help from Andrew to learn what you can do to save his father's life.
The Stakes, 2008. Eight of the Washington Monthly's contributing editors "consider the looming challenges that America is likely to face—in the economy, education, the courts, and other areas—during an Obama or McCain presidency, and how, based on what we know about the two men, they are likely to handle them." [more inside]
Not just for religious pharmacists anymore: the Department of Health and Human Services proposes a rule that protects anyone who refuses to provide medical services on moral or religious grounds. [more inside]
MexCare offers "An Alternative Choice for the Care of the Unfunded Latin American National." [more inside]
Sexual Healing. "Sad stories and otherwise freaky tales from Florida's last sexual surrogate." A longish article, and fascinating.
Two years since Massachusetts instituted major statewide healthcare reform, the statistics are coming in. 340,000 residents, roughly half the state's previously uninsured, are now insured. The state says that 95% of its population is now covered, based on Department of Revenue estimates. However, a large portion of them are enrolled through state-subsidized insurance programs, and those program's rate of enrollment have far outpaced estimates. This has led lawmakers to forsee a budget shortfall. Premiums and co-pays are going up, cigarette taxes have increased, and a cost control proposal is making its way through the legislature. Assessments have been all over the map.
Birth of the National Health Service - How the state of the nation's health became a political ideal
The NHS at 60. The National Health Service is 60 on July 5th. Take a look at documents, audio and video related to the birth and growth of this "radical plan."
We've talked about BMI as a metric for health, and possibly laws regulating health. What about waist measurment? [more inside]
An analysis of the medical care provided to the family of Homer J. Simpson from the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Sick Around the World, the newest documentary piece produced by PBS's Frontline asks: "Can the U.S. learn anything from the rest of the world about how to run a health care system?" Having previously shared a Pulitzer Prize with The New York Times, and produced such quality programs as Bush's War, this should be well worth a mere hour of your time.
The antidote to LOLbushsuxx0rs. Over the course of the past week, Slate ran a ten (10!)-piece series, "Fixin' It", in which various writers postulated how the course of various aspects of the United States' military, culture, and policies could be redirected for the better. Although the articles are not entirely devoid of Bush criticism, there's mostly a fairly rare focus on the positive actions to be taken from here onward by the next President (whether it be McCain or Obama or Clinton).
Britain's National Health Service has unveiled a plan that would allow citizens to choose where they are treated. I found that I had to refer to the NHS wiki page to refresh my understanding of the British system. The Telegraph has also published an interview with the Health Secretary and is inviting reader response. [more inside]
The state of Oregon is holding a health insurance lottery where 91,000 hopeful enrollees will be competing for a couple thousand spots under the Oregon Health Plan, the state's Medicaid program. OHP was created to cover those who made too much to enroll in traditional Medicaid but too little to afford market healthcare, and this development comes as a result of budget cuts and a subsequent enrollment closure in July of 2004. It's a far cry from the universal health care coverage that the plan was suppose to lead to, and marks a dramatic turn for the state's once-ambitious health care reforms.
(Previously in dystopic health care developments)
(Previously in dystopic health care developments)
"AngryJournalist.com, an increasingly popular site that consists of nothing but rants from pissed-off reporters, is now the most accurate summation extant of journalism as an industry," (via Gawker). It's spawned a marvelously less popular HappyJournalist.com, and what appears to be an unrelated copycat called AngryResident.com, for "for every doctor-in-training tired of suffering in silence."
The universal coverage debate comes down to one, simple question: why does health insurance pay for checkups when car insurance doesn't pay for oil changes? [more inside]
A new medical bill payment reporting system called MedFICO is said to be going live this summer. This system is being developed by the health care industry in an effort to judge a patient's ability to pay. Healthcare Analytics, a healthcare actuarial company, is developing the score in conjunction with Tenet Healthcare, credit scoring company Fair Issac, and venture capitalists. [more inside]
The Prepaid Healthcare Visa® Gift Card, for that special someone without insurance on your holiday list. Rejoice! Terry Gilliam's dystopian future is now! [via]
What do you call it when your insurance company takes your accident settlement to repay the medical costs you have incurred? If you said subrogation, you were close.
The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush. "The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup." [Via Firedoglake.]
You know what will help young people in Pennsylvania embrace a career in health care? A video featuring a rapping groundhog that cost $4157 in taxpayer money.
Salvador and Mabel Mangano, the owners of St. Rita’s nursing home in St. Bernard Parish, where 35 patients drowned in Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters, were found not guilty of negligent homicide and cruelty to the infirm charges tonight by a six-member jury. Read their story and decide for yourself if they're guilty.
"In 2003, Americans spent an estimated US$5,635 per capita on health care, while Canadians spent US$3,003... Canada’s single-payer system, which relies on not-for-profit delivery, achieves health outcomes that are at least equal to those in the United States at two-thirds the cost." What do wealthy, educated Americans living in Canada think?
Self-Diagnosis: Five anonymous doctors frankly discuss their patients, other doctors, American healthcare, and the inevitable mistakes doctors make, including mistakes they've personally made that jeopardized their patients' lives.
An Atlanta man caused the U.S. government to issue its first quarantine order since 1963 this weekend, knowingly exposing as many as 107 passengers on two transatlantic flights to a rare, "extensively drug-resistant" form of tuberculosis. "It's regretful that we weren't able to stop that," the CDC's Dr. Martin Cetron said of how the man fled when U.S. health officials tracked him down in Rome and told him not to get on an airplane.
Millions of uninsured children in this country. Even with public assistance, they teeter on the brink of a catastrophic illness. What's the answer? Elect Susie!
25 y.o. whistle-blower. Last Fall, a 24 y.o. by the name of Justen Deal, blew the whistle on what he perceived to be profligate waste by his employers. As an IT guy at Kaiser-Permanente, he'd seen a $442 million database project scrapped by the new CEO and replaced by a sweetheart deal for one of the CEO's former contractors. Internal estimates placed Kaiser's losses on this new contract at $1.2 billion dollars per quarter [more inside]
Sickday. (for my NYC mefites) As I sit here in Chicago with a fresh case of bronchitis and unable to leave the office, I'm wishing I was back in NYC. Apparently they have plans to expand soon...
A Google Map mash-up shows how hospital closures in NYC disproportionately effect the poor and people of colour. It's a pretty slick presentation of the data.