Friday, December 15, 2017

Always look on the Briteside of life

It was bound to happen:

And yes, the commercial is a parody of Big Pharma ads, but the service is legit (for certain values of "legit").

[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]

Thursday, December 14, 2017

MVNHS©: The Gift that keeps on taking

Britain's Much Vaunted National Health System© has long been touted as the quintessential model of government-run, single-payer health "care." Today we offer two more shining examples of how that's working out.

First up,via FoIB Dr Gerard G, a lesson in how the MVNHS© manages to rein in run-away health care costs:

"Now NHS prepares to ration painkillers and routine operations: Bosses drawn guidelines after getting only a third of the money they asked for in the Budget"

That's really the fundamental problem with this kind of system: there's only so much supply to meet pent-up demand. As co-blogger Bob noted some time ago:

"The economics of goods and services can be reduced to simple demand and supply. Health care is no different ... Health care is also inelastic."

That is, one could substitute tea for coffee (for example), but there really isn't a substitute for health care. Sure, one could probably make do with an extra ibuprofen versus that codeine, but what's the stand-in for hip replacement?

Our second lesson comes courtesy of FoIB Rich W, who found this tragedy:

"Hospital apologises after pregnant teenager was turned away from hospital by midwife who blasted her for using an ambulance as ‘a taxi’ – just hours before her baby died."

Talk about compassionate care.

Fortunately, the hospital "was forced to apologise;" I'm sure that went a long way toward helping the young couple's healing process.

Good thing she didn't need that epidural.

Such a deal!


[click to embiggen] 

For perspective, that translates to over $21,000 before the plan pays anything (well, except for free birth control and such). So again, going bare is no longer such an irrational response.

It's a Holly, Jolly Health Wonk Review

Our favorite elf (and HWR co-founder), Julie Ferguson, hosts this week's holiday-themed roundup of health care wonkery and policy.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

From the P&C Files: Winter is here!

Our friend Emily J at PuroClean ("The Paramedics of Property Damage") has some timely suggestions for IB readers:

The Complete Guide to Winterizing your Home

Now is the perfect time to prepare your home for the colder weather. Winterizing your home with the tips below are simple and easy. The longer you wait the more damage could possibly erupt with old man winter cold air rolls in.


  • Furnace: When it comes to your heating system take the time to do a test run to make sure everything is working properly set to 80 degrees, listen for the furnace to turn on and wait for the warm air to blow. If it isn’t running properly, contact your local qualified service technician.
  • Furnace Filters: Dirty filters can restrict airflow and boost energy demand. To extend the life of your furnace and keep costs low change furnace filters monthly.
  • Preventing Freezing Pipes: Drain water from swimming pools and water sprinklers. Replace exterior faucets with freeze-proof faucets. Look for pipes that are vulnerable for freezing, pipes located by cracks or openings in walls, floors and ceilings. For pipes at risk for freezing consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Keep the faucet on a trickle, cabinets open for warm air to circulate and if there are water supply lines in the garage keep the garage closed.  
  • Thawing Pipes: Keep the faucet open for water to trickle out as you treat the frozen pipes, apply heat to the section of pipe using a electric heating pad, hair dryer or a space heater. Apply heat until the water pressure is fully restored, if you can not find the frozen section call a licensed plumber. If a pipe bursts or a water leak occurs, turn off your water shut-off valve and call your local service contractor..
  • Air Ducts: Debris in air ducts can cause heating bills to rise. Get air ducts professionally cleaned by your local service contrator.
  • Water Heater: Consider having your water heater flushed once a year.   
  • Sump Pump: Test your sump pump to make sure it’s working properly.
  • Home Detectors: Replace the batteries and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Put up some Plastic: A cheap alternative to prevent old drafty windows is buying a cheap window insulation kit at your local hardware store. This will help keep your home warm and your energy bills low.
  • Fire Place: Clean and prepare your fire place and chimney. Make sure the chimney is clear of any nests from birds, squirrels or other animals. Inspect the fire brick in the fireplace, repair any mortar joint, a fire can spread into the stud wall behind the masonry fire brick.
  • Gutters: Clean gutters and downspouts to make sure both are free of leaves and debris, allowing water to flow properly. Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams. Replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards.
  • Roof: Inspect roof for shingles that are curling, missing, or broken.
  • Seal up cracks and gaps: Be sure to caulk or weather strip around windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping.  “Caulking and sealing openings is one of the least expensive maintenance jobs,” says Michael Hydeck, President of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). “Openings in the structure can cause water to get in and freeze, resulting in cracks and mold buildup,” he says.
  • Air Conditioner: Cover air conditioning unit outside to prevent debris from entering the system.
  • Outdoor Furniture: Cover and store outdoor furniture.
  • Yard Equipment: Clean up yard equipment.
  • Water Hose: Blow out and store your hoses to prevent damage. Winterize outdoor faucets and spigots to prevent freezing pipes.
  • Check for Peeling Paint: Peeling paint is a sign that existing paint is failing and can no longer protect the siding of the building which will deteriorate if not corrected.
  • Yard: Rake leaves, trim trees and bushes.
 Always try to buy a snow shovel, salt, extra water, canned goods and other winter supplies before nasty weather hits.

Thanks, Emily!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Top O'The Week Linkfest

■ A few months ago, we noted that, far from elevating health care results among those most needy, "the weight of the scientific evidence is that Medicaid expansion has not saved lives."

Now, FoIB Holly R offers more proof that Medicaid over-promises and under-delivers:

"[F]or patients with other public [i.e., Medicaid] or no insurance, survival was often stubbornly unchanged, or, in some cancers, declining."


■ A slight correction (well, clarification) for our item last week on Wells Fargo's little insurance fraud fiasco. From the original article, we understood this to mean home (and perhaps auto) policies; thanks to FoIB Allison Bell, we learn that at least some of these appear to have been life insurance plans:

"California insurance regulators say problems with unauthorized product sales at Wells Fargo bank branches may have affected some sales of term life insurance."


■ And about that ObamaTax cost curve; back in September we noted that:

"Out-of-pocket costs for specialty drugs under the Affordable Care Act increased 16 percent from 2016 to 2017."


But wait, there's more:

"U.S. health care spending increased to $3.3 trillion in 2016, with out-of-pocket health care costs borne directly by consumers rising 3.9 percent — the fastest rate of growth since 2007."


[Hat Tip: Jason]

Friday, December 08, 2017

ANOTHER Baby Charlie? The MVNHS© Strikes Again

Regular readers may recall the tragic story of Baby Charlie:

"The parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard are 'utterly distraught' and facing fresh heartbreak after losing their final appeal in the European Court of Human Rights."

Well, turns out the caring, compassionate Angels of the Death Mercy at the Much Vaunted National Health Service© apparently haven't met their quota:

"Ader Hey Children’s Hospital has applied to the High Court to switch off life support for a baby in a coma, the ECHO understands. Alfie Evans’s family said they were now in a “living nightmare” after the hospital said they had exhausted all options in trying to diagnose and treat his mystery brain condition."

Get that?

They don't even know what's wrong with the poor boy.

Adding insult to (fatal) injury:

"An Italian children’ hospital has offered to take the child as a patient for further inquiries and treatment. But the UK hospital administration and doctors are not only saying NO, seeks a court order allowing them to withdraw life-sustaining treatment."

But hey: Free health care.

(For certain values of "care")

[Hat Tip: FoIB TPH]

Thursday, December 07, 2017

From the P&C Files: Is this big?

Because it seems big:

"The accusation is the result of a department investigation that found that from 2008 to 2016, Wells Fargo customers were issued approximately 1,500 insurance policies and charged premiums without their knowledge or permission."

The result of this investigation  may be the revocation of WF's license to sell insurance in The Golden State.

[ed: Which, to be fair, may be to their benefit, based on the fires currently raging out of control]

I reached out to my P&C guru Bill M, who pointed out that:

A) Yes, this certainly appears to be fraud, and

B) In the grand scheme of things, 1500 incidents over 10 years seems more likely the actions of a "rogue" agency than systemic. Doesn't make it right, but probably easier to contain and remediate.

Will be interesting to see which licenses are pulled, and for how long.

[Hat Tip: FoIB PC360]

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

From the Comments

We're privileged to have some really interesting and informed commenters here, and the discussion can get lively (but always  civil!).

But we also get some .... well, unusual feedback, such as this one from Regina Raymond in reply to our recent MedMutual post:

"My husband of six years left me for another girl because I accused him of seeing another girl and since then I have been trying to get him back but he refused to come back to me, he was not responding to my calls or email and he even unfriended me on face-book and also unfollowed me on IG and he told me that he was done with me and my two kids.

I got really confused, I was searching on the internet for help and I saw a testimony of how a spell caster helped them to get their exes back so I decided to give it a trial, but i was even more confused because of many testimonies that i saw, but my heart told me to go for Dr [REDACTED] because I did many researches on him and I found nothing bad about him, that was how I contacted him and I explain my problem to him and he casted a love spell for me and guaranteed me 7 days that my ex will come back to me and to my greatest surprise the third day a great miracle fell on me and my ex came back to me and he begged for my forgiveness.

Dr [REDACTED] you are just the best, I will continue to publish his name because he is my Savior, we are now one big happy and united family, If you need his help you can Email him Do not loose hope too soon contact him If you need his help you can Email him ...  for easy and fast communication you can also call or add him on whats-app.

Well gosh, thanks so much, Regina, and congratulations!

Pretty sure this isn't considered an EHB, though.