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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Hillary has always been my girl, but I'm increasingly impressed by Nancy Pelosi. What she has done, how she has done it, is nothing short of impressive. She knew what she wanted, she stuck by her principles, and she worked tirelessly to get it done, even when it seemed that defeat was certain.

In her way stood a series of obstacles that would give most normal people a migraine so intractable that insurance companies would deem it a pre-existing condition. There was Bart Stupak and his faction of anti-abortion Democrats. There was the equally large bloc of pro-choice lawmakers who threatened to revolt if Stupak's demands for restrictions on insurance coverage of abortions prevailed. There were the unions, livid at the idea that the House might entrench the Senate's tax on high-cost health plans. There was Dennis Kucinich. Each week seemed to bring an explanation of some obscure parliamentary manoeuvre that had been proposed and proved impossible.

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0 comments | 9:00 PM |

Sunday, March 21, 2010


House Approves Health Overhaul. Just wow. I never thought this day would come. Unbelievable. Amazing.

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0 comments | 10:49 PM |

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pins and needles

I've been eagerly following the votes for the health care reform bill, scheduled to be voted on tomorrow. I've got my fingers crossed that it will pass. I'm also concerned that the move to repeal it will start on Monday. It's exciting, daunting, terrifying and while nothing will happen until 2014 at the earliest, I can't believe we're actually seeing some progress on this front. It's imperfect (I wanted a public option, but alas) but it's a step in the right direction. People with pre-existing conditions (acne to cancer) will no longer have to worry about being denied and in this age of recession, people who lose their jobs won't be burdened by COBRA payments or such high premiums that they forgo health insurance (my COBRA payment, btw, was quoted at $590/month just for me; I imagine a family of 4 would be much, much higher).

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0 comments | 5:11 PM |

Friday, March 19, 2010

LotD version HCR

The healthcare bill: 10 things you need to know. This is a pretty good briefing on what is actually in the 2,700-page bill.

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0 comments | 9:13 PM |

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Slate has an interesting article on how insurers reject you. Definitely makes you think about the need for reform, especially in light of WellPoint's 39% rate increase. I love their explanation for the rate increase:

WellPoint defends the hikes as a prudent business move. In a letter to Sebelius, Brian Sassi, head of WellPoint’s consumer business unit, said that because of the recession, healthy people are dropping insurance or opting for cheaper plans. That lowers premium revenues, reducing the amount of money available to cover claims from those who remain.

I'm not sure there are many people out there who can easily absorb a 39% rate increase and I bet some of those people who are still left are going to drop out or opt for cheaper plans, creating a vicious cycle that we'll probably see repeated with other companies over time if something isn't done to keep costs down.

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0 comments | 8:21 PM |

Monday, December 07, 2009


Here's a personal angle on the current health care debate: Health Care and Cancer: Reforming the Odds in a Costly System.

The enormous expense of cancer care – particularly for diagnoses with the worst prognosis – is a driving force in the relentless rise of health costs. Is this huge investment of resources a sensible approach to diseases for which there is no cure and for treatments that often extend life by only a few months? To me, of course, the answer is quite clearly yes. But my disease, though not curable, is treatable, and fortunately, new treatments are waiting in the wings. That is not the case with many other cancers.

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0 comments | 9:25 PM |

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Point and Counterpoint -- Sort of

"60 Minutes" this past week had an interesting story on The Cost of Dying.

By law, Medicare cannot reject any treatment based upon cost. It will pay $55,000 for patients with advanced breast cancer to receive the chemotherapy drug Avastin, even though it extends life only an average of a month and a half; it will pay $40,000 for a 93-year-old man with terminal cancer to get a surgically implanted defibrillator if he happens to have heart problems too.

Eugene Robinson asks in his column today "How much expensive, unnecessary, high-tech testing and treatment am I willing to have our out-of-control health system pay for to save one life, if the life in question might be mine or that of a loved one? The honest answer, I think, is: a whole bunch."

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0 comments | 10:15 PM |

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Planned Parenthood will connect you to your senator's office so you can leave a message asking Congress to protect women's health care. Sign up here. It's about time people started listening to us, especially since I'm convinced all the people who are blowing smoke about abortion in the health care reform debate wouldn't support any kind of reform anyway. So make the call and ask your senator to protect women's health care and vote against any amendment that would restrict our options to pick our doctors and make our own choices about our healthcare. Women deserve comprehensive health care and I, for one, am tired of my health care choices being used as a political football for other people's agendas.

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0 comments | 6:51 PM |

Sunday, August 30, 2009

LotD - Health Care Round-Up

Scary op-ed here about the effects of medical bills on people's marriages. I remember this kind of story being prevalent in the LTC market back when I worked for Very Big Insurance Company. Again, there's got to be a better way.

A study reported in The American Journal of Medicine this month found that 62 percent of American bankruptcies are linked to medical bills. These medical bankruptcies had increased nearly 50 percent in just six years. Astonishingly, 78 percent of these people actually had health insurance, but the gaps and inadequacies left them unprotected when they were hit by devastating bills.

I find this above fact just... wow. Mind-boggling. Given the subject of this op-ed, I wonder where are the "family values" reflected when a wife chooses to divorce her husband in order to save their future together?

I also found the dichotomy in this article about Senator DeMint from South Carolina. He's fighting against health care reform, spreading lies about what the bill actually says, and yet, the average rate of uninsured people in his state is higher than the national average.

The subject of health care in Mr. DeMint’s own state rarely comes up either. But South Carolina, much of which is poor and rural, faces some particular challenges. Its unemployment rate of 11.8 percent exceeds the national rate of 9.4 percent. And 16.2 percent of the population has no insurance, more than the national average of 15.3 percent.

Rather, voters seem more interested in whether Mr. DeMint might run for president.

Reminds me a lot of that book -- "What's the Matter with Kansas?" -- which had people voting emotionally on their anti-abortion stances to their own economic disadvantage.

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3 comments | 9:00 PM |

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More on Health Care

The NY Times editorial breaks it all out -- a lot easier to understand without the rhetoric and hot blood of either side. What caught my eye was this paragraph: Right now employers are free to change or even drop your coverage at any time. Under likely reforms, they would remain free to do so, provided they paid a penalty to help offset the cost for their workers who would then buy coverage through an exchange.

This actually happened to me at a previous employer. Our good health plan was switched and we were told that 95% of our doctors etc., would remain the same. But lo and behold, when I went to use the plan, I soon learned that it was literally the Edsel of health insurance plans. No one would take my insurance except for a few clinics scattered here or there. My colleagues, including one who had a brain tumor, found themselves in the same boat. We couldn't even find a dentist who would accept our insurance. The irony of all this? Our premiums actually went up while our coverage, in theory, went down. Our employer argued that they kept the coverage the same -- which could be true, but we couldn't actually prove this because no doctors would accept our insurance.

Flash forward a year, and our employer was forced to change our plan because the outcry was so much. We ended up getting a better plan, and again, premiums went up, but at least this time, we had doctors and dentists who would accept the plan. I would have gladly, for that year, taken an offset payment and gone with a private insurance plan on an exchange or elsewhere rather than paying for something I clearly could not use.

I have no idea if Obama's plan is the right one, but I do know inaction isn't the right way to go. I'm in favor of doing *something* -- such a complex subject and so many opinions, it's hard to know who's right and who's wrong. I only know I have had enough experience with the existing system to know it can't go on like this.

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2 comments | 9:20 PM |

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I'm having massive computer problems tonight, but I had to share a link with you that I found awfully provocative. I'm not sure whether I agree with the article or not but it made sense. I'm imagining anyone who suggests rationing health care must be getting a lot of hate mail. An unpopular argument, for sure, but I found it intelligently put.


Health care is a scarce resource, and all scarce resources are rationed in one way or another. In the United States, most health care is privately financed, and so most rationing is by price: you get what you, or your employer, can afford to insure you for. But our current system of employer-financed health insurance exists only because the federal government encouraged it by making the premiums tax deductible. That is, in effect, a more than $200 billion government subsidy for health care. In the public sector, primarily Medicare, Medicaid and hospital emergency rooms, health care is rationed by long waits, high patient copayment requirements, low payments to doctors that discourage some from serving public patients and limits on payments to hospitals.

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0 comments | 10:34 PM |

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I had a severe headache and vomiting on Tuesday. I knew it was most probably a migraine brought on by heat and stress, but I just wanted to double check. So I turned to Dr. Google and found this site --- FreeMD(r). Basically, you can be seen by a "virtual doctor". It's an interesting concept. The virtual program interviews you, and then after getting enough information, gives you a possible diagnosis, tells you if and how quickly you should see a doctor, and presents it all in an easy to print out form just in case you need it as a reference. I checked my headache (I was right -- migraine) and also just for fun, my lower back pain.

My lower back pain, incidentally, was caused from poor posture in an abs class some time ago and can be relieved with a good yoga class. So I was pretty sure the issue is a tight back muscle, given that yoga pretty much fixes the problem. So after the migraine diagnosis, I ran the lower back. And lo and behold, it diagnosed me with "acute back strain or sprain."

Anyway, I thought it was a neat tool. What I like about it is that they give you an idea of how serious your problem is. For instance, for the lower back pain, they recommended seeing a doctor within the next two weeks; for the migraine headache, they recommended I see a doctor within 8 hours. Luckily my headache was gone in that time!

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0 comments | 8:20 PM |

Monday, June 15, 2009


Interesting article about the costs of healthcare in the New Yorker.

"Health-care costs ultimately arise from the accumulation of individual decisions doctors make about which services and treatments to write an order for. The most expensive piece of medical equipment, as the saying goes, is a doctor’s pen. And, as a rule, hospital executives don’t own the pen caps. Doctors do."

Full article here.

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0 comments | 5:00 PM |

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