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.

 

 

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Bookstore visit: Top Picks from Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble gets knocked sometimes for being too corporate. And that’s true enough; they are a big corporation.

But often B&N is the only book store in town, if there even is one, and they have a great kids section, cool gifts and host author events and book parties. (I have no affiliation with Barnes and Noble at all; this is all my unsolicited personal opinion). And I love to visit with my kids in the winter.

So, here are some picks from our last visit. Since I bring children, and I don’t want to buy the whole store, we take pictures of the titles that interest us.

This time I was really impressed with the local history section, which I had never paid attention to before. There’s a tree house book in there to help guide me to my dream home, some books of poems and legends that I want to teach to the kids, some classics that I enjoy, some gift picks and a toy pick from my son.

What would you browse for?

Here we go:

image

To inspire my lifestyle. Continue reading

Three Reasons No One Should Be Disappointed with Pope Francis’s Visit

[From my post on the Truth and Charity Forum of HLI]

The Pope has surprised a number of committed Catholics by his talking points, mostly because he did not focus too heavily on abortion. However, it should come as no surprise that Pope Francis focused on many of the same themes from Laudato Si, his first encyclical, such as the environment, immigration, ending the death penalty, ending arms proliferation and human trafficking, and supporting the poor and marginalized. These issues are generally given more emphasis by more liberal Catholics (and non-Catholics).

Of course, the pope has also mentioned the hallmark conservative causes, particularly the importance of the family and the sacredness of human life, but not anything against abortion or same-sex marriage by name. R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, called the speech to Congress “modest” and said that, “Francis discourages conservative Catholics, more by silence than anything else. He encourages progressives, both by his silences and his affirmations.”

francisThat seems to sum up the reaction of many faithful Catholics to Pope Francis’s visit: disappointment that he didn’t shore them up or champion their causes.

However, I don’t think such downtroddenness is appropriate for three reasons:

The first is that “popes speak Vatican-ese,” as a Jesuit priest and professor of mine Fr. Gerald Fogarty once put it. The pope is head of a worldwide Church with many different cultural, national and ethnic sensitivities that they seek to balance in their pronouncements. It is rare for popes to come out with guns blazing, naming specific condemnations of specific national laws and policies. Pope Benedict did discuss abortion and Pope Francis did mention immigration by name, but he also linked it with the wider refugee crisis of displaced persons fleeing the Middle East. His concern is global, as the Church is global.

Read the whole thing here: http://www.truthandcharityforum.org/three-reasons-no-one-should-be-disappointed-with-the-popes-visit-to-america/

Did you see Pope Francis? Did you listen to or read any of this talks? What did you think?

Welcome Pope Francis, the Man Who Walks the Walk

The Pope, himself!

I am very excited for Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. that includes Washington D.C. (hi!), New York, and Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

Pope Francis is the second pope since I’ve been a Catholic. I loved Benedict XVI, see my post on his Jesus of Nazareth series, but I love Pope Francis too! In his way of life, he captures a lot of the shock but also sincerity of Christ’s teachings, and people are drawn to him. The pope recently called for all parishes and monasteries to open their doors to refugees from the Middle East. Few people realize that Pope Pius XII also did this for Jews during World War II. This is using the office well, and it’s inspiring to see.

The pope will arrive in Washington next week on Wednesday, September 23. I doubt I will be able to manage the logistics of lining up to see his parade on the mall, but I wish I could! Pope Francis will meet with the President, pray at St. Matthews and canonize Junipero Serra later at the National Basilica.

More information about his Washington visit is available here from the Archdiocese of Washington.

http://adw.org/2015/09/10/archdiocese-of-washington-announces-parade-route-for-pope-francis-in-washington/Then he’s off to New York and Philly. The pope’s full schedule is online at the USCCB’s office.

http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/francis/papal-visit-2015/2015-papal-visit-schedule.cfm

Welcome Pope Francis! from Stephanie, at this little blog.