Thursday, January 24, 2013

Facts about America's Health Care Quality that the World Doesn't Know

An oft-cited rationale for the Affordable Care Act is that Americans have poor access to quality health care. In reality, a variety of other factors, such as disease and lifestyle, are the real reasons why Americans have lower life expectancies despite our advanced medical technology, says Scott W. Atlas, the David and Joan Traitel senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

  • Obesity is the epidemic linked to a greater risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
  • More than 33 percent of Americans are considered obese, compared to 17.1 percent of Western Europeans.
  • Japan has a very low rate of obesity, only 3.4 percent, and also the greatest longevity.
  • The United States also has a very high incidence of cigarette smoking, which negatively affects health outcomes.

Despite these burdens, American cancer patients survive at much higher rates that their European counterparts in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Indeed, for breast cancer, the mortality rate in Germany is 52 percent higher and in the United Kingdom it is 88 percent higher than in the United States. For prostate cancer, the mortality rates are even worse.

More Americans with heart disease receive medication or are operated on for their condition.

  • Americans have twice as many bypass procedures and four times as many angioplasties when compared to 10 Western European nations (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland).
  • Evidence suggests that Americans actually benefit from this extra treatment, with a longer five-year survival rate than Canadians who have a nationalized health system.

The United States also has a lower death rate from strokes, most likely due to modern therapy that expanded in America far quicker than it did under nationalized insurance.

  • Less than 50 percent of high blood pressure patients go untreated in the United States compared with the 66 percent to 75 percent that go untreated in Canada and Europe, respectively.
  • The United States is much more effective at controlling blood pressure through its better hypertension treatment delivery.

Source: Scott W. Atlas, "Facts about America's Health Care Quality that the World Doesn't Know," Fox News, January 15, 2013. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

This is how wellness programs save employers money

Heresy at Health Affairs:

Virtually unheard of thirty years ago, workplace wellness is now embedded in large self-insured companies. These firms pay their workers an average of $460/year to participate in worksite wellness programs. Further, wellness is deeply enough engrained in the public policy consciousness to have earned aprominent place in the Affordable Care Act, which allows large employers to tie a significant percentage of health spending to employee health behavior and provides direct subsidies for small businesses to undertake these workplace wellness programs.

Yet the implausible, disproven, and often mathematically impossible claims of success underlying the “get well quick” programs promoted by the wellness industry raise many questions about the wisdom of these decisions and policies.

So why are we doing this? I proposed an answer in Priceless: wellness programs attract employees who are already healthy and repel those who aren’t. 

via John Goodman's Health Policy Blog by John Goodman on 1/17/13. 

GINA ALLOWS life, LTD and LTC companies to use your genetic data against you

But, hey, it can't be used in medical underwriting.  That is such a beautiful illustration of legislative genius.  

There’s a federal law that’s supposed to protect people from having their own genes used against them, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA. Under GINA, it’s illegal for an employer to fire someone based on his genes, and it’s illegal for health insurers to raise rates or to deny coverage because of someone’s genetic code. But the law has a loophole: It only applies to health insurance. It doesn’t say anything about companies that sell life insurance, disability insurance or long-term-care insurance.

Source: NPR.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Colleges roll back faculty hours in response to Obamacare

Look away from this reduction in hours. You don't see a reduction in hours. Everybody is fully employed and happy with ObamaCare. Move along ... 
As employers prepare to implement the Affordable Care Act, it’s not just low-wage fast food workers who are feeling the heat. Adjunct faculty from at least four universities will also see their hours cut as colleges try to reduce the number of full-time employees whose health care they need to cover.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Power of Negative Thinking

The Wall Street Journal describes a technique I often use and rarely hear discussed:

Just thinking in sober detail about worst-case scenarios—a technique the Stoics called "the premeditation of evils"—can help to sap the future of its anxiety-producing power. The psychologist Julie Norem estimates that about one-third of Americans instinctively use this strategy, which she terms "defensive pessimism." Positive thinking, by contrast, is the effort to convince yourself that things will turn out fine, which can reinforce the belief that it would be absolutely terrible if they didn't.

Quite simply, once you have prepared yourself to deal with the absolute worse case scenario, everything else is a piece of cake.  

The Power of Negative Thinking | Wall Street Journal