Salon: The Obamacare “private option”

Imagine you’re a conservative state politician ideologically opposed to government-provided health insurance for those with low incomes, but you nonetheless recognize the folly in forgoing billions of dollars in federal funds available to states that expand Medicaid simply to prove a Dickensian point (of questionable popularity) … Read the article at Salon here.

 

Blog Post: Asking About Costs Is Not Enough

In a recent piece in the New York Times (“Can You Afford Your Medicine? Doctors Don’t Ask”), Allison Bond – a medical student in Boston – poignantly tells the heartbreaking stories of patients who lack the money to afford copayments for prescriptions or doctors visits.  She describes, for instance, a mother and two daughters – recent immigrants from East Asia – who she meets at an appointment with their pediatrician.  The children have signs of growth retardation from malnutrition, evidence of the family’s poverty.  When the mother is told of the $20 copayment, she breaks into tears, knowing she will be unable to afford a return visit.

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Blog Post: The Price vs. the Cost of Health Care

Increasingly, the problem of health care “prices” is replacing the problem of health care “costs.”  That may sound like a meaningless distinction, but consider the opening sentence of the “Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors,” an article in todays New York Times:

Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of health care, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care.

The focus, in other words, is not only society-wide health care costs as a percentage of GDP, but the price of particular interventions for particular patients.  The very premise of this lead, however, is both entirely unremarkable and extraordinarily concerning.

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Jacobin: The Neoliberal Turn in American Health Care

Last year’s three-ring Congressional shutdown circus — for many little more than a desperate rearguard action by an isolated rightwing fringe to undo the fait accompli of Barack Obama’s health care reform — reinforced with each passing day the gaudy dysfunction of the American political system. But we miss something crucial if we construe the perseverance of Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) as nothing more than the overdue victory of commonsense health care reform over an irrelevant and intransigent right, or, even more, as the glorious culmination of a progressive dream for American universal health care long deferred.  In Jacobin here.

Salon: A pro- single payer doctor’s concerns about Obamacare

As a single-payer advocate who is also a doctor, I was concerned after the Affordable Care Act was passed that it didn’t do enough to combat rising underinsurance. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund, which used new data to demonstrate that in 2012 some 31.7 million Americans were underinsured (i.e. insured, but still with heavy additional out-of-pocket health care expenses), argued that the burden of underinsurance will likely lessen as the ACA fully unfolds. But is there really reason for such optimism?  See the article here in Salon.

Dissent: The Twilight of the British Public Health System?

Less than two years after the fall of Nazi Germany, a bankrupt Britain—reeling from the most destructive war in history and living under conditions of stark austerity—elected to create an extraordinary system of universal health care, the National Health Service (NHS) …

My article on the ongoing assault in the Spring 2014 issue of Dissent is available here.

Blog: Underinsured in the Commonwealth?

There has been much talk in recent weeks about the ability of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) not only to reduce uninsurance, but also underinsurance, which is the state of being inadequately insured, such that medical expenses remain a threat to one’s financial health.

The health care reform that Massachusetts launched in 2006 to no small degree provided the model on which the ACA is based.  Therefore, the current state of affairs in the Commonwealth provides a good basis for predicting the impact of the ACA.  Such an evaluation, unfortunately, gives grounds for pessimism on the issue of underinsurance.

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Truthout: Of Patients and Prices

There are many good reasons to impatiently anticipate the end of one’s medical training, which not infrequently lasts upwards of five years following medical school. But counterpoised to the oft-cited benefits – greater autonomy, reliably increased remuneration, less reliably improved hours, and so forth – there is also, unfortunately, an almost entirely unrecognized drawback: a largely unavoidable entanglement in the business of health care … Read the article at Truthout here.

 

Truthout: Why Drug Prices Are Out of Control, or Money Well Spent by Big Pharma

Nowadays, it’s not only radicals who are recognizing the rising problem of inequality. Between Bill de Blasio’s mayoral inauguration, Obama’s pointed speech early last month, and Pope Francis’ critique of trickle down economics in November, the rhetoric of Occupy Wall Street seems to be going mainstream 

See the article on the Truthout website here.

Salon: Republicans’ biggest misunderstanding about Obamacare

The battle for universal healthcare is not over. This is not because of the reason you might suspect – that Republicans will obstinately endeavor to obstruct Obamacare in every way they can (though that seems to be the case). Instead, even after the smoke clears from the government shutdown (presumably with the law intact), the battle over universal healthcare will still not be over, but for a more fundamental reason: Obamacare, whatever its advantages (and despite the right’s worst fears), does not create a system of universal healthcare…

Read it on Salon here.

Salon: The Right’s Healthcare Revolution is a Scam

“The consumer-driven healthcare revolution,” trumpeted one conservative think tank a few years back, “has only just begun.”  Now, for anyone who has ever been inconvenienced by an encounter with the healthcare system – or even worse, been on the receiving end of poor quality care, a medical error or a misdiagnosis – a greater focus on “consumer” satisfaction might sound like just the right medicine for American healthcare …

Read the article on Salon here.

Truthout: Is Fixing Stop-and-Frisk Worth the Bother?

Is fixing “stop and frisk,” the NYPD’s policy of frisking first (mostly blacks) and asking questions later – whether unconstitutional or not – even worth the bother?  Not according to former first deputy police commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) John F. Timoney, who, in a New York Times Op-Ed last month, bemoaned the “real costs of policing the police” when it came to reforming the controversial policy…

See the article on  Truthout here.

Truthout: Life and Death at Work: Labor and Occupational Health After Rana Plaza

In April 2013, the most deadly textile accident in world history – the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, which killed 1,129 workers in single day – revealed to the world the grave hazards of sweatshop work.  The tragedy also brought to light the even larger global epidemic of occupational injury and disease. Occupational injury, according to the World Health Organization, accounts for an estimated 352,000 global deaths annually…

See the article on the Truthout website here.

Salon: Your doctor copays are too high!

Until recently, the high-deductible health insurance plan – pay less up front, and more when you get sick – was something of a novelty product, marketed to the young and healthy. Now, however, high-deductibles are rapidly going mainstream – whether for young or old, professionals or poor alike…

Read the article at Salon here.