Health Wonk Review: Half glass edition

Glasses half something

Welcome to the latest roundup of health care policy posts. The submissions for this edition seemed to naturally group themselves into the optimistic and pessimistic categories, so that’s exactly how I’m going to lay them out.

Glass half empty

I always assumed being a temp was tough. But Workers’ Comp Insider makes us aware of the high risks temps face, including a heightened likelihood of death during the first day on the job!

Electronic health records (EHRs) are intended to increase quality and reduce costs. But Disease Management Care Blog¬†emphasizes a big downside: that EHRs are facilitating Medicare fraud by making it too easy to cut and paste patient records and to generate “zombie” diagnoses. (Hope I don’t come down with that!)

InsureBlog (never a big ObamaCare fan unless I missed something, which I doubt) is none too impressed with the Catastrophic Plan “relief” effort. Carriers aren’t likely to offer such plans to people over 30, even if it’s technically possible for them to do so.

Like it or not, if every HWR was organized the way this one is, Health Care Renewal would hit the half empty section every time. Maybe that’s just the way it is when you’re beat is, “addressing threats to health care’s core values, especially those stemming from concentration and abuse of power.” In any case, we learn that PharmaLot, a blog that didn’t pull its punches, is being shut down. Not only that, but we’re losing access to the archives, too. (Editor’s note: try using the Wayback Machine to see archived material for this site and others.)

Glass half full

The rest of our bloggers see some challenges in the system, but are inclined to look on the positive side.

As the “father” of Health Savings Accounts, John Goodman is partly to blame for the persistence of deductibles. That’s because federal law requires HSAs to be paired with high deductible plans. Nevertheless, Goodman opposes deductibles and has some clever ideas for how to improve insurance.

Wright on Health notes that Chicken Little hasn’t come home to roost, even if there have been problems with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.¬†Folks should be pleased with the elimination of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, the expansion of Medicaid in many states, and the availability of affordable subsidized private insurance across the country.

Managed Care Matters reports that while there’s plenty of uncertainty going around in the health insurance industry in 2014, ObamaCare’s risk management tools should prevent a death spiral from taking hold.

Colorado Health Insurance Insider observes that some people are hopping mad that Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is excluded from their new insurance plan. The art on the walls there (including Picasso and Warhol) is definitely better than what you’ll find at other hospitals, but prices are much higher and outcomes are nothing special. So maybe folks should take the money they save on premiums and use it to visit one of the excellent art museums in the area. The artwork there is even better!

Interventions that target specific populations don’t seem to work that well, even when great rigor is used to identify the best targets. Rather than give up, HealthAGEnda suggests we should focus on helping patients achieve the improve targets they set for themselves.

Maggie Mahar’s piece debunking a major daily newspaper’s ObamaCare ‘horror stories’ has drawn vast media response, including an apology from the editor of the newspaper that drew her criticism.

photo credit: WxMom via photopin cc

By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.

January 16, 2014

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