It that-must-not-be-named

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. 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

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The Jetsons Meet Alternative Medicine

Don’t get me wrong – I can enjoy a kale mango turmeric smoothie as much as the next guy.  But I’m no hipster when it comes to alternative medicine.  The real name for it should be “unstudied medicine”, and the reason it is not studied comes down to dollars and cents:the_jetsons

No one makes enough money from apple cider vinegar (melts away extra pounds! cures heartburn!) or whatever else to fund a solid, scientific study. 

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Tinkerbell Meets Health Policy

Tinkerbell is rescued from near death by the audience clapping their hands showing their faithful belief in her.  The “Tinkerbell effect” describes things that tinkerbellexist only because we agree to believe in them –like the value of dollar bills or the rule of law or, perhaps these health policy nuggets:  Continue reading

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Small & Exciting or Big & Boring

Two hot investments for you to consider:

  • Start-Up Ace’s product adds 10 or more years of longevity for most people and a very broad group of people are candidates. It improves not only the person’s health status, but also their children’s.  No harsh side effects.
  • Rising Star Biomed’s product adds 10 months of longevity to a small group of people. Side effects are so harsh, many people discontinue mid-stream.

diplomaOne of these is an exciting cancer drug.  The other is a ho-hum program to encourage teens to graduate from high school.  The reason we jump to the cancer drug is not just the profit motive.  It is baked into our very human nature: Continue reading

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“Stop Smoking” stopped working

The link between lung cancer and smoking was confirmed in the 1940s.  The surgeon general’s warning was put onto cigarette packs in 1966.  And the deluge of stop-smoking messages has only grown ever since.  So, why do three times as stop_smokingmany adults with less than a high school education (30%) still smoke compared to as adults with a college education (10%)? The Stop Smoking campaigns don’t speak their language.  Continue reading

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As easy as 1, 2, 250000

Counting is not Sesame Street easy in population health science.  Case in point: count_draculain 1999, a study concluded that medical errors in the United States hospitals were killing 98,000 people a year, the equivalent of two jumbo jet crashes per day.  Recently, a new study upped the estimate to 250,000.   Never fear  — Count von Count is here!        Continue reading

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Under peace’d, over crisis’d

I don’t know about you, but I am truly sick of the healthcare crisis. There is a new crisis every year at health insurance renewal season (coming soon!), and then at least a few liberally sprinkled in between renewals.  Epi-pen pricing is our most recent, which Time magazine says is “yet another sign of coming Pharma Crisis”.  Aetna’s leaving several states’ insurance exchanges – there’s another one!crisis

It begs the question whether the healthcare situation is actually a crisis.  Continue reading

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The band is still playing

and_the_band_played_onMissteps, politics, and controversy hampered AIDS research and prevention in the 1980s – costing us literally thousands of lives.  “And the Band Played On”, Randy Shilts’s excellent account of the early days of AIDS,  would be less disheartening if we weren’t repeating the same mistakes today with a different disease. Continue reading

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Cheetos under siege in Mexico

Sometimes I miss newsworthy events.  Such is the case with the Cheetos tax that Mexico started charging in 2014. (I also missed the memo on brand new socks being labeled “R” and “L” – what is up with that??? But I digress. . .)   Now, enough time has passed to see whether high energy density, non-essential aka junk food consumption went down in Mexico.  And it did, but not for everyone.cheetos_under_siege  Excellent study available hereContinue reading

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Tunnel vision

We’ve all done it – over-focused on a deadline or an event and lost track of other things, which then became crises.   “Tunneling” works, sort of, when we’re tunnel_visiontalking about working overtime for a month, and then catching up with our lonely spouse or weedy garden.  But what if a person’s focus is consumed with life basics, like food and rent, and what gets forgotten are the electric bill and a child’s asthma inhaler?  Tunneling is why poverty is very hard to escape.  Continue reading

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