“A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem.” – Anonymous
Who hasn’t had the joy of blaming someone? You are absolved entirely and the solution involves some other poor sap changing his ways. Despite the short-lived relief blaming offers, it is the game for health care policy in the U.S.
Let’s review recent scapegoats for the cost of health insurance and health care: Continue reading
Conservatives everywhere, rejoice! At last, an expensive illness that can be “treated” by getting the patient a job. Conservatives’ favorite rant about needy people – they just need to get a job – is vindicated and it’s even backed up with decent research. Can we really turn the tide of the opiate addiction tsunami with jobs? Sort of yes. Sort of no. Continue reading
- All foam, no beer
- As smart as bait.
- Nothing going on upstairs.
There are plenty of ways to insult someone who is dumb, and now we can add injury to insult – people of lower intelligence die younger. And we have the science to prove it. Continue reading
We are all weary of news about obesity, and here comes a rarity – an excellent study that uses pristine methods and accurate descriptions of the worldwide trends. Sad to say, the message will likely get lost in the sound-bite translation. Continue reading
New research published in The Lancet has uncovered an antidote to a widespread, expensive, and devastating illness –health bullshit disease. Sufferers are susceptible to painless easy weight loss promises, herbal cures for cancer, and many employee wellness programs. Unlike any other recent new technology in health, this one actually has potential to improve health and reduce costs. What is this miracle antidote? Continue reading
“To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.” Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1687.
When Newton penned his laws of motion in the late 1600s, he was surely not thinking of surprise hospital inspections. (Hospitals date back to 350 BCE, but hospital inspectors did not come about until 1951 when the Joint Commission on Hospitals was born.) Nevertheless, his law can clearly be seen at work there: Medicare patients who had a hospital stay during an inspection week had a significantly lower risk of dying in the following 30 days, compared to similar patients who stayed during a non-inspection week. (JAMA Internal Medicine paper.) Continue reading
Which of the following seems least ridiculous?
- A butterfly flapping its wings can set off a hurricane.
- Birth control pills and patches cause depression.
Clearly, the birth-control-pill-depression connection seems plausible yet it is very similar to the butterfly example. It is a change in one thing that will travel over, under, around, and through many other complex systems, and lead to significant change in yet another system. (Kudos if you recognized the hurricane example from chaos theory.) Continue reading
The proposed 20% cut to the National Institutes of Health budget would spark much less furor if we clearly differentiated “health” from “medical care”. More medical care – more advanced, more techy, more whatever – does not bring more health or longer lives, and it never will. Continue reading
On a hot summer ice-cream-craving day, would you choose the shop that has three flavors of ice cream or the one with three dozen? If you want to be satisfied with your choice, you go to – surprise – the one with three flavors.
Having too many choices leaves us with regrets. “Well, the one I took was okay but what about the other 35 that I didn’t?” (For a terrific book about choice architecture, see Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.)
It works for ice cream, and for more complex products – such as (wait for it!) health insurance. Continue reading
There is a creeping, stealthy (some might say sinister) movement that just might change the face of health insurance in the United States. It will continue as long as we do not say its name aloud, like Lord What’s-His-Name at Hogwarts.
The not-so-well-hidden health policy revolution is the concept of opening Medicare or Medicaid to all people. A recent Atlantic article, “A Political Opening for Universal Health Care?” makes the scandalous assertion that the time may be ripe for this idea. Even Republicans might be supportive, as they make good on their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading