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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 Snowstorms May Be Good For Your Health

It is 4 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon in February, and I’m sitting in a chair with a laptop computer warming my thighs like an obedient lapdog. I’m swaddled in a cozy bathrobe. My feet are toasty warm inside slippers as I sip hot tea with honey. I’ve raised the blinds on the windows, and as I watch the wet snow swirling sideways in a chaotic display of white, I can’t help feeling giddy that work was cancelled today. I have an overall sense of unproductive euphoria as the gears and pistons of capitalism freeze over. Could blizzards be good for health?

On a normal day I would be 30-40 minutes late seeing patients by now. I would have a dull headache from concentrating all day on hundreds of problems, symptoms, and questions, and my blood pressure would be about 135/84, pulse 89.  But the white flakes of water drifting on the winds seem weightless, elemental, and self-sufficient. They certainly have no interest in me as I enjoy their infinite procession. I estimate my blood pressure is 108/72, pulse 61. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

What’s Hot In The Employer Health World?

Prevention.  Also, prevention, prevention, prevention, prevention,prevention, prevention,prevention, prevention, prevention, and prevention.  Finally, prevention, prevention, prevention, spam, prevention,prevention, prevention,prevention, prevention,prevention, prevention, prevention, prevention.

I’m overstating it, but this was the major theme of the Employer Health and Human Capital Congress which I attended yesterday outside of Washington, DC.  It’s a major event for benefits professionals and in spite of the pending snowpocalypse, was very well attended.  I moderated a panel about how people need help navigating the health care system.  But the gap between all the talk about prevention and the reality that a lot of people are going to get sick no matter what was the talk of this group. Read more »

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

Will The CDC Recommend That All Boys Should Be Circumcised?

There appears to be some controversy brewing. The New York Times is reporting that the CDC may recommend just that in an effort to protect the boys against HIV as they become sexually active:

The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is currently neutral. As a result, many state Medicaid programs do not pay for the procedure. But it sounds like that may be changing, with a policy indicating circumcision has health benefits beyond HIV prevention.
And the Daily Dish reports that:
Hundreds of commenters wrote into the New York Times today to complain about “child abuse” and “genital mutilation” and one “religious sect’s agenda of control” (i.e. Jews).
I don’t see what the big deal is. Everyone seems to be piercing and tattooing their bodies these days. What’s wrong with a little circumcision?
Perhaps you could mandate the same kind of prevention that schools do with their vaccination requirements. What do you think? Should all boys be circumcised?

*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*

The Friday Funny: Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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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