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Latest Posts

Why Does The US Spend So Much On Healthcare?

Today the Commonwealth Fund came out with a chart that it says is a “grim reminder” of what happens when health care doesn’t get reformed.

If only we had listened to Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter.  We would have saved tens of trillions of dollars in health care spending.

Click to enlarge Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Politicians Should Learn From Health Benefits Managers

Barely a week after Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he wants state controls on the price of health insurance, President Obama apparently wants to do the same at the federal level.  Both men must believe it’s good politics, because there are about 4,000 years of evidence that it’s not good policy.

But the trouble for reformers has never really been about policy.  It’s been about a fundamental misunderstanding of how people view health care and the very bad things that happen when you give people the impression you’re going to mess with what they have.

In this sense, the reform bills are like perpetual anxiety machines.  Contraptions that continually produce more public anxiety than they consume.

But why is this?

Well one of the surest ways to create anxiety in someone is to make them feel uncertain about something important to them.  It’s one reason why companies suffer from problems with morale in tough economic times.  If a company doesn’t level with its employees about what’s happening, smart employees start to assume it must be because the news is bad.  Otherwise, why wouldn’t the management come out and explain that everything is ok? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Why Price Controls Will Make Healthcare Worse

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced this week he has had enough of rising health care costs.

So he is proposing a novel solution: make them illegal.

Well, it’s not fair to call this idea “novel.”  Governments have tried price controls for 40 centuries.  And even though they don’t work, they keep trying.  The explanation isn’t complicated.  It’s an easy way for a politician to seem to do something about rising prices.  In this case, it won’t do much about the underlying problem, but it is a terrific way for a governor to look like a man of action. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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