Monday, April 2, 2012

Manic Monday Morning

Today's the day the 2012 Handbook comes from the printer. Can't wait -- and you shouldn't either! We already have an order for 100, so get yours before we run out!

Now that I spent a week blogging about the Supreme Court to the exclusion of other health news, I think I've decided to focus these blog posts a bit more. So you won't get every health-related story -- just the ones that I think are interesting, or that I think you would think are interesting. We're going for quality rather than quantity for a little while. Let's see how it goes.

VP Biden predicts the Supreme Court will uphold the health reform law. I don't know -- I still want to believe he's right, but last week was tough. What he is right about, though, is that millions of people already are getting the benefits of the law, and rolling that back does nobody any favors. He's also right when he says that the GOP -- including the presidential candidates -- have not suggested any alternatives. So if the Court strikes down the whole law, do we just go back to the way things were? Most states have enacted provisions responding to the federal law -- what happens to those if the Court strikes down the law? WaPo says the GOP's ads saying health reform has driven up the cost of premiums is way wrong -- but what about all the people who hear this but don't read WaPo? More analysis of last week's arguments here and here. Here are "four likely scenarios" from Politico. And five key questions for the Supreme Court from the Hill. And this is sort of amusing -- Tweets from pundits on the health reform argument.

Some states seem ready to pick up the mantle and pass health reform on the state level. Other states can't seem to make up their minds -- CT first said yes and then said no.

Increasingly, employers are tying health insurance to whether you smoke, are obese, have high cholesterol, and blood pressure. It's bad enough that people with chronic illnesses can't get individual insurance, but now they're going to pay more for employer-sponsored insurance, too? Other insurers are paying rebates for going to the cheapest sources for medical care. But do we sacrifice quality when we judge by price alone?

The wonderful Dr. Pauline Chen writes about when less treatment is more. Sometimes, more conservative treatment is the best way to go. So, for example, when a woman presented with a blockage due to scar tissue, the surgeon chose an NG tube and IV nutrition for a week instead of surgery. But still, patients get treatments that have questionable benefits -- radiation for breast cancer, which contributes little to mortality, but even though the studies showing that are strong, treatment continues. One driver is finances -- you don't get paid for not treating. And another driver is patients -- we want our doctors to DO something. We may be wrong about that, though.

That's it for this Monday morning. Have you ordered your copy of the 2012 Know Your Rights Handbook? If you want to be an empowered patient, get your copy today! Jennifer

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