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Tag: health

How About Some Healthy Information Instead?

In the squabbles over health care reform this summer (you’d be stretching things to call what’s going on a “debate”), many of the talking heads make the claim that the US has “the best health care system in the world”.

Others, mostly the ones who want to kill the current proposals (but have nothing to offer as an alternative), toss around words like “socialism” and make phrases like “Canadian-style” or “European-style” sound like a formula for instant death.

So, what’s the truth about how citizens of other countries receive medical care?  Do we have the best?  Do people in other countries either die standing in line to see a doctor or get substandard service?

I have no idea.  But if even half the information in the 5 Myths column from this morning’s Post is true then a good deal of the blather heard on the talking heads channels and printed in many publications (including parts of the same paper) is pure crap.

Foreign health-care systems are inefficient, bloated bureaucracies.

Much less so than here. It may seem to Americans that U.S.-style free enterprise — private-sector, for-profit health insurance — is naturally the most cost-effective way to pay for health care. But in fact, all the other payment systems are more efficient than ours.

U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for nonmedical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France’s health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration. Canada’s universal insurance system, run by government bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government for wasting money.

The writer does not get into the issues surrounding how we would cover the costs for universal health care, other than to note that the US pays a whole lot more for what we have compared to most other countries.

He also doesn’t touch on the high cost of the American habit to file lawsuits at the drop of a hangnail, which is likely part of those high “nonmedical” costs and should also be addressed in any reform plan.

Still this is the kind of information that news organizations should be digging up, having real experts analyze, and presenting to their viewers/readers rather than staging the almost non-stop “my-opinion-is-just-as-valid-as-yours” arguments that fill far too much space in the media.

The picture is of Marcus Welby, MD, the 70’s TV ideal of the kindly family doctor.  Of course, if your problem was really serious you’d want to be treated by Dr. Kildare or Ben Casey. :-)

Blogging is Hazardous to Your Health

The New York Times presents yet another article about the evils of blogging. Not quite as bad as most press reports about the dangers of web 2.0, but still depressing.

The story reports on two professional bloggers who died of heart attacks and another who survived one. From that point the writer then tries to connect heavy blogging to an unhealthful lifestyle.

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

Ok. But all three coronary victims were also techies. Maybe the causality is between being a geek and high health risks.

Or maybe they just needed to follow some good advice.

Mr. Lam said he has worried his blogging staff might be burning out, and he urges them to take breaks, even vacations. But he said they face tremendous pressure – external, internal and financial.

I know plenty of people who put themselves under tremendous pressure and none of them are bloggers.

And just to be on the safe side, I’m going to bed a little early. :-)

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