Healthcare stub: Increased consumption not driving costs

[So, I know healthcare isn’t usually a blog topic of mine, but I’m oddly interested in it, and my blog is a good way for me to keep track of articles and research.]

“Many believe that we in America are using too much health care. They argue that because many lack ‘skin in the game,’ they consume too much care. This report shows that actual utilization is stable to decreasing in many areas. It’s the prices per unit of care that are going up, pretty much across the board. That will continue, even if we find new ways to incentivize people to avoid care. That’s a dangerous trend. If it continues, it means that we will be getting less and less health care, but paying more and more each year. –Aaron Carroll Dr. Aaron E. Carroll is an associate professor and vice chair of health policy and outcomes research in the department of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine.”

http://www.academyhealth.org/blog/2012-05/dont-blame-consumption-costs

I was really pleased to stumble across this research summary–there are more details in the link–because it fits with my experience–which is that just having a baby, a normal life medical event, has wiped out our health savings completely in each year that one of our kids was born.

“Well, it turns out that care in America is extremely expensive. The average inpatient admission to the hospital cost $14,662 in 2010. If you were admitted to the hospital for a surgery, the average cost was $27,100. The average newborn delivery – if things went well – cost $7,371. Instruments like cost sharing and high deductible health plans that are designed to empower consumers lose much of their appeal when confronted with numbers like these. If you have a baby, or need to go to the hospital just once in a year, you’ve likely already spent as much as allowed out-of-pocket, meaning that any cost-sharing incentives to reduce spending are gone. Moreover, it appears that prices, not utilization are the cause of increases in spending:”

This seems accurate. Most plans nowadays are high deductible, which in my opinion is anything over $1,000.00. As quoted, that means that one hospitalization or birth will wipe out the alleged value of saving money through HSAs and high deductibles. It means that we are incentivized not merely to “price shop,” though anyone who has tried it knows what a tangle it is, but to avoid care. That’s what many families do, frankly, even those with “good insurance.” It can be dangerous.

I appreciate the stats here that show that we American’s aren’t just getting unnecessary tests, office visits and hospitalizations. Many of those measures are down. The prices have just spiked.

That means that as America turns its eye again to healthcare legislation, the issue of access and affordability is far more complex that the lip-service would have us believe. As I’ve said before, a basic truth of modern life, unpopular and unacknowledged, is that healthcare is a high quality, high cost modern resource, a limited resource; it is not infinite. And our society lacks a consensus, and in my opinion even a firm understanding, of what a fair distribution might look like or if it is even possible.

 

 

Book Review: C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength – The Real of Religion

that-hideous-strengthThat Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis opens with a grumbling wife and goes onto weave in realities of marriage, science, the supernatural, morality, magic, politics, violence and animals, all under the auspices of exploring, through story, what a well-lived life looks like. The answer it settles on is surprisingly warm and domestic.

This was the first of the Space Trilogy (which began with Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra), which grabbed me from the beginning and pulled me right through the pages; it is far more character-driven and less allegorical than the others, while equally thoughtful. It is one of those life books that encompasses so many experiences, states in life and realities that it is grand and revelatory such that every page seems to reveal more to me of own soul. Another book I have read like this was The Once and Future King by T.H. White, which was my book of the year for 2015. I loved it so much I couldn’t decide what to write about it, so I never wrote anything, a tragedy.

Anyway, the themes addressed in That Hideous Strength were manifold, though very pointed and specific, such that I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers did not connect with this book because it does feel located in a very concrete time and place, with very precise philosophical concerns–those of C.S. Lewis–a small university in a quiet, English town and the rising onslaught of scientific materialism. While I find the academic setting relatable and generalizable, not all readers might agree.

Here is a short list of themes worth noting; their breadth is the pleasure of the novel: Continue reading

Freelance Repost: Mrs. Clinton’s Religion Problem

I wrote this article before the election but never posted it here:

This is why I am truly glad that Mrs. Clinton did not win. However, it is hard to be happy about a Trump win, and there are so many other causes for concern with his behavior. People keep reassuring me that he won’t actually do any of the things he proposes, but that’s a different topic.

http://truthandcharityforum.org/mrs-clintons-religion-problem/

Leaders of black churches have questioned Mrs. Clinton specifically about concerns for their own religious liberty. In an open letter signed by twenty-six pastors and leaders of African-American churches, including Jacqueline Rivers of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies in Boston, they called attention to the CAGC comments by John Podesta;

“Key players on your staff have sought to subvert Catholic teaching on sexuality by planting externally funded groups in the church to advance a politically correct agenda,” they noted. “What would you do as president to guarantee that religious freedoms are balanced against civil rights rather than being trumped by them?”

They show respect for their fellow faith communities and go on to explain the central role their religious beliefs play in their ministry, particularly in poor communities, where the church is only institution well-placed to access the population, both spiritually and materially. In Christianity, beliefs are not meant as cudgels with which to bludgeon opponents; beliefs are guides to goodness, to recognizing the inherent dignity of our fellows, of striving to live well both today and forever, individually and as a society.

While Christians can and do fall short of our ideals, we seek freedom of conscience for the sake of authenticity, not hatred. Religion, despite its present unpopularity in elite circles, was once an uncontroversially protected category of conscience and identity. The drafters of the Bill of Rights thought as much.

Full article here: