Thursday, November 10, 2011

Health Wonk Review: Olio Edition

No, not oleo, but olio: "a miscellaneous collection (as of literary or musical selections)." And this week, that means great posts from some of our "regulars," as well as an eclectic selection from folks that are new to the 'Review. Regardless, as always when we host HWR here at IB, we're strict constructionists regarding the Review's Founding Purpose of "policy, funding, insurance, managed care, infrastructure, IT, the uninsured, economics and trends."

After hosting countless 'Reviews, I'm going to invoke "Seniority," and lead off with my own blog. I hope to be forgiven, however, since the post in question is the first ever from My Better Half, who proposes a rather unique, if outside-the-box, solution to a vexing health care financing problem.

Something I noticed this time around was a sort of "pattern" to the submissions: half were about, or related to, health care financing (aka health insurance), which isn't all that surprising. But almost as many were about topics I don't recall seeing in previous editions, ranging from teens in trouble (of a sort) to quacks (but not not duck-related). I think you're really going to enjoy this one:

■ Gail Stern is a Project Management Professional with an emphasis on IT Infrastructure [ed: don't feel bad if you don't quite get that - I often need subtitles as she discusses her work at our dinner table]. In her first ever blog post, she turns her (considerable) talents to resolving an expensive government-sponsored health insurance conundrum.

In a somewhat related post, Jonena Relth reports on the latest EMR/EHR trends being tracked by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. The challenges facing our health care system and its reliance on information tech are mind-boggling.

We here at HWR-HQ have never claimed to be speciest, so we're happy to include Rachel Cleary's thought-provoking post on pet obesity, and how to prevent and/or deal with it. Ruff! Meow!

Our first insurance-related item (I'll be sprinkling them throughout this edition) comes from my favorite Health Care Economist, Jason Shafrin. This week, he tackles something currently on the minds of a lot of seniors (and those that care for and about them): how to choose a Part D plan to help pay for meds. Timely and informative.

If choosing a plan, or even writing about how to choose one, becomes too stressful, Charles Chua has just the ticket: how about making every day a holiday? No, Jay, he doesn't mean playing hooky, he means adjusting our mindset. And isn't mental health policy just as important as physical?

NewsFlash: #OccupyHWR is in effect! Well, in a way: Roy Poses is ticked off at what he considers "crony capitalism" in the health care marketplace. His post is important, because it vividly illustrates that financial issues aren't just about banks and taxes, but pills and x-rays, too.

Does your employer help pay for your health insurance? For folks covered by employer-sponsored (aka "group") plans, the answer's yes (sort of, but that's another post). But as Louise Norris points out, it's a whole 'nother matter when you've got an individual plan and your boss wants to help out with the premiums. There's a lot more here than you might think: Federal Law vs State Regulations, for starters.

Did you know that almost 10% of American teenaged girls are moms? Or that we have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world? Neither did I (and me with two daughters!), which is why this post from the folks at DNA Testing blog was both an eye-opener, and quite relevant.

■ Jaan Siderov has an interesting take on a special kind of health care vendor, and why its roller-coaster stock pricing may be less than meets the eye.

Workers Comp Insider's Jon Coppelman fisks the idea that charging higher health insurance premiums for smokers and, um, plus-sized folks will ultimately close the gap between premium income and claims outgo. But he goes further, pointing out that the net effect may be to actually harm those least able to afford it.

It's really good to hear from too-long-silent med-school blogger NotWithStanding. NWS poses an interesting conundrum [ed: you really like that word, don't you?]: is it possible to legally ban health care quackery without forever politicizing questions of scientific and medical truth? Careful with your answer: the Law of Unintended Consequences awaits you if you falter.

And finally, unlike yours truly, Mark Hall is a fan of the Individual Mandate. In his post at the Health Affairs blog, he sets out to show that keeping the mandate will lead to a more predictable, stable market, and that it's absolutely vital to the success of the new health reform law (what we here at IB call ObamneyCare©)

And that concludes this edition of the Health Wonk Review. Since we're big fans of tryptophan, we'll be skipping the Turkey Day HWR festivities, and reconvening at Brad Wright's place on December 8th.

Thanks as always to Julie Ferguson for helping to make hosting as easy and fun as possible. Speaking of which, she's always on the hunt for new hosts, so why not drop her a line and grab an HWR for yourself. You won't be sorry.
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