Ask the Right Questions about Healthcare

Politicians Need to Ask the Right Questions about Healthcare (Photo credit: SupremePatriot.com)

By Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk

Politicians Need to Ask the Right Questions about Healthcare

In Healthcare: Mandatory Coverage or Universal Access?, Dr. Josh Luke presents one perspective – that of a hospital CEO. Readers should know that he represents the medical industrial complex, which also includes insurers, drug companies, equipment providers, and testing companies. Their collective interest is to protect the perverse profits that come from illness and injury, and the fee-for-service incentives that encourage ongoing treatment of symptoms. I found Dr. Lukes’ framing of the healthcare issue too partisan, so I had to respond. My responses form the basis of today’s posting.

What’s the DIFFERENCE between Universal Healthcare and Universal Access? Republican politicians have promoted Universal Access, confusing it with Universal Healthcare. Access, however, only means you can get health care if you can afford it. That’s like having the ability to buy a luxury yacht or summer home, but only if you have enough money to afford it. Progressives instead want Universal Healthcare, a concept I endorse here at Modern Health Talk. It’s efficient and what other advanced nations have. So let’s reframe the issue by asking different questions.  Read More …

American Health Care Act, a Summary & UPDATE

 

By Wayne Caswell, founding editor

UPDATE 3/24/2017 — Not enough Republicans agreed to pass the American Health Care Act, which would repeal much of Obamacare and kill thousands of Americans by leaving them without health care, so they pulled it.

UPDATE 3/24/2017 — Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives scheduled a critical vote today but could not secure enough votes within their own party to pass the American Health Care Act. So Speaker Paul Ryan and and President Trump decided to pulled it. The bill to partially repeal Obamacare would partially fulfill a campaign promise and give tax breaks to wealthy benefactors, but it would also steal from the Medicare Trust Fund, gut Medicaid, and result in the deaths of Americans by leaving them without health care. Pulling the bill was a better option than facing angry constituents, 85% of whom were against it. Read More …

Healthcare as Public Utility

healthcare as a public utility - image of health care practitioner with handheld mobile deviceComputing functions once associated with PCs are moving back to big servers in the Internet Cloud, leaving mobile client devices to handle the user interface (UI) but not the data storage and analysis. I find this shift especially interesting, having grown up in the mainframe world at IBM as computing functions moved to PCs.

In the case of speech recognition and Apple’s SIRI artificial intelligence, even the UI function is now split between client & server. This has huge implications for healthcare, with IBM’s Watson and AT&T’s analytics engine aimed at different parts of the healthcare problem.

The networked mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.) will serve as a health gateway between a host of medical & environmental sensors and cloud-based services that collect & analyze the collected data. The benefits will not just target individual patients but be applied across large populations.

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Wall-E, End of Work, and Universal Basic Income

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I’m reposting this article with new information from a U.N. report that warns countries to prepare for the day when technology, automation, and artificial intelligence replaces jobs. They expect 75% of the world population to become unemployable, and that day is coming sooner than most people realize. It will have immense social consequences.

Wall-E is a fun & warm-hearted animated movie by Pixar that also warns against ignoring environmental pollution and the obesity epidemic. It presents future humans as super-obese couch potatoes living in a robot & technology-dominated world set some 700 years in the future. By then, mankind had so completely trashed Earth’s environment that humans were forced to relocate to spaceships and evolved into large, floating fat blobs – the Axioms.

But the future doesn’t have to be as foretold. We learned that from the classic movie, A Christmas Carol. By knowing the risks of possible futures that our current behavior may take us to, we can change. We can change course to save the environment, improve our health & well being, and find solutions to wide unemployment.

I hope you enjoy the video clips below, as well as the additional links and discussion that follows.

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Medical Errors versus Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical Errors versus Malpractice Lawsuits

With every legislative session, lawmakers seem to further reduce the rights of people injured by medical errors and malpractice.

Often described as a form of corporate welfare, Tort Reform makes it more difficult for people to file lawsuits and caps any award they get for damages. Some states even require the losing party to pay the court costs of the opposing party, making malpractice lawsuits extremely risky for individuals facing opponents with deep pockets. Read More …

Why Republicans Want to Repeal Obamacare

Robert Reich on Why Republicans want to Repeal Obamacare

Here’s what Reich says about an Obamacare repeal:

  • 32 million people will lose coverage, [23M-24M if replaced with Senate or House versions, per CBO]
  • Tens of thousands of American’s will die as a result (over 50 times as many as killed by terrorists),
  • Medicare and Medicaid will be left in worse shape, and
  • The rich will get richer in a massive redistribution of wealth.

Missing from this list, and discussed after the video, is what appears to be racist resentment of having a black President in the White House, no matter how qualified. Repeal is also pragmatic, because it helps Republicans contain a demographic shift works against them and maintain control of Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court. Read More …

Influencing Healthcare Policy – Lobbying, Incentives & Insurance

Benjamin Franklin is credited as saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," but policymakers seem more influenced by the money he's pictured on.

Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but policymakers seem more influenced by the money he’s pictured on.

By Wayne Caswell, Founding Editor, Modern Health Talk

As President Trump’s administration transitions from the Obama era, a conservative ideological shift will influence healthcare policy, but so will other factors. They are discussed here, based on my response to “The Past, Present and Future of Healthcare Policy” at ReferralMD.

Influencing Healthcare Policy

Although The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare, has flattened the curve to the lowest annual cost increase in decades, it still has not reduced overall costs for many reasons. These include (1) special interest lobbying to protect industry revenues & profit, (2) misaligned incentives, and (3) an insurance middleman that adds more cost than value. It is unlikely that any “repeal and replace” strategy can live up to Trump’s promises because of these three factors. Read More …

US Healthcare System has Cancer. Can Trump Fix it?

By Wayne Caswell, founding editor, Modern Health Talk

Dr. Sudip Bose says, "The epicenter of health care is the doctor-patient relationship."

Opening his January 16, 2017 Huffington Post article, Dr. Sudip Bose said, “One thing is certain about the future of Obamacare, and that is that it will change under a Donald Trump presidency.“ Given his public statements, Trump will clearly make sweeping changes sooner than later, but what those changes will be is anything but clear. That’s why today’s article describes what I hope for, if not what I expect.

The US healthcare system has cancer – a malignant form that started way before Obama became President, and it has taken decades to grow to its current condition, where our very existence is threatened. It’s my hope (remember Hope & Change?) that healthcare reform under Trump will not just treat the symptoms of a growing healthcare cancer, like the lack of insurance competition or price transparency. I hope Trump will recognize the need to treat our healthcare system’s cancer aggressively, naturally and holistically. Will he? Read More …

Universal Healthcare Opposition

Obamacare Protest Sign shows Universal Healthcare OppositionWhat is REALLY behind universal healthcare opposition? It’s the fear of helping “LOSERS”

I felt compelled to comment on this article in MedCity News. The article said FEAR was a dominant reason some Americans find it so hard to support the kind of universal healthcare that all other advanced nations have. The dark side of this belief is that “Nobody wants to pay for FREE healthcare for anyone who doesn’t work hard enough, doesn’t have enough determination, or is a Loser” and doesn’t deserve it. The US stands out in this regard, since we are the ONLY one among the 33 advanced nations that does not provide universal healthcare.

While these other countries see healthcare as a basic right and thus a social responsibility, in the U.S. it doesn’t seem to matter whether these ‘losers’ are old people or little kids, are people who lost their jobs, are people with serious health problems through no fault of their own, or are people bankrupt by a serious injury. Those who are afraid to help ‘losers’ speak of defunding the government or killing Obamacare, with no apparent concern that the OECD reports that 17% of US households live below the poverty line, or that they can’t afford healthcare and have an average lifespan 20 years less than those in affluent neighborhoods on opposite sides of the same town.  Read More …

Corporate Behavior and Rising Health Care Costs

As the dust settled from the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), one of my LinkedIn groups got into a debate about what it all means and what needs to happen next. I got such a positive reaction from one of my comments that I thought I’d share it here, followed by details of the documentary I mentioned.

My Comment

The aging population adds significantly to healthcare costs, but that’s a global problem and not specific to the US, so what is it about our nation that makes our healthcare system the most expensive in the world by far and without the positive outcomes to justify it?

As a consumer advocate, I believe our problems are rooted in politics and societal beliefs, and I find it quite telling that, according to the HBO documentary “The Weight of the Nation,” public health officials can accurately gauge one’s average weight and BMI by zip code. They’ve also noticed that longevity in poor neighborhoods can be over 20 YEARS LESS than in affluent neighborhoods on the other side of the same town. Watch the video and see the stats at http://www.mhealthtalk.com/2012/06/americas-obesity-epidemic-a-big-problem-updated/.

I especially feel for children born into poor families, or the “new poor” that were once middle-class families. Those are the families where the parents lost their job and/or home at no fault of their own, got hit with a health emergency that forced them into bankruptcy, and easily burned through any retirement or capital investments they once had. Poor families often have:

  • Less access to healthcare, even from pre-birth,
  • Less access to affordable and nutritious foods,
  • Less exercise opportunity, with fewer places to safely play,
  • Inferior public schools (college seems out-of-reach),
  • Fewer job opportunities, and
  • Less say in government.

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This Year, Resolve to Sleep More

You are 10 times more likely to stick to a change made at the New Year, according to Dr. Mike Evans.Resolve to sleep more as a New Year’s resolution, because scientific study shows that, “You are 10 times more likely to stick to a change made at the New Year,” and other studies say you’re even more successful if you get the support of others. So now is the time to make those commitments, as we approach the year’s end. This video and article will help.  Read More …

Envisioning the Future of Health Care

Envisioning the Future of Health Care

At the end of each New Year, it seems everyone has a list of top trends, as Dr. Meskó did in The Most Exciting Medical Technologies of 2017.

MORE PREDICTIONS: I too have made predictions (http://www.mhealthtalk.com/101-minitrends-in-health-care/) and often point to the hidden opportunities that lurk at the intersections of MiniTrends. Most futurists miss those if they just extrapolate obvious trends without factoring in the many market accelerators and obstacles that determine how quickly a preferred version of the future appears. Read More …

Evaluating Market Research

What factors influence growth projections in market researchHere’s my advice for evaluating market research, as founding editor of Modern Health Talk and someone who has both purchased and written major market research reports.

Market Research can be biased and short-lived, so before you buy any expensive research reports, make sure you get a chance to interview the authors personally so you understand their assumptions, research process, and what shaped their conclusions. Read More …

Top Technology Innovations All Seniors Should Have

Guest article by Helen SmithReal Seniors over age 75 are less likely to be Silver Surfers than baby boomers who used computers in their jobs.

The number of adults over 60 using the Internet and related devices is continuing to grow, and according to a Pew Research survey, over half of all seniors now use the Internet and have cell phones.

This might lead to us to conclude that seniors are “silver surfers,” ready to embrace tech developments as they arise, and turning to the Internet for everything from their shopping and deliveries to their dating needs. In reality, however, we have a long way to go before this is the case. [See Tech Adoption by Real Seniors, because there’s a big gap between them and boomers?]

Technology has been evolving at such a fast rate that keeping up can feel overwhelming, and this is particularly true for seniors [the real seniors]. They often aren’t nearly as excited about new gadgets and gizmos as their younger and more tech-savvy relatives are.

Technology, however, can be a huge benefit to seniors and help them live happier and more enriching lives. So whether you’re a tech wizard or just interested in making life a bit easier, here are the top innovations that all seniors should have: Read More …

Interoperability in a Connected World

Can’t We All Just Get Along? Interoperability in a Connected World
was first published in CABA iHomes and Buildings.

By Lee Gruenfeld, Autumn 2016

The lack of Interoperability in a Connected World keeps Home Automation from reaching its potential.

Mark Moz, Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

“Can’t we all just get along?” The answer to that question about interoperability in a connected world is unfortunately, “No.”

Sorry. Wish I had better news. But there are some very good reasons why the ideal of everything in the Internet of Things blithely communicating with all the other things isn’t going to happen, at least not in the next few years, and not smoothly if it ever does. Read More …

Home Automation Shows Promise for Seniors, but HomeKit Isn’t the Answer – Yet

By Beth Kelly

Home automation has been a mixed blessing for senior citizens and those who provide their care. Individual assistive technologies and comprehensive smart home “ecosystems” are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they’re more capable than ever of understanding older user’s needs and capabilities.

The development of comprehensive home technology platforms – such as Apple’s HomeKit and Google’s Home – has accelerated hopes that technology’s role in senior care will continue to make rapidly meaningful strides, via the ever-widening Internet of Things (IoT).

Smart Home applications of IoT

Integrating Disparate Subsystems

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Make Your Home Safe Again!

By Maggie Drag

As we age, we often forget that our homes should age with us! As more and more people aged 65 and older (90 percent according to AARP to be exact), choose to stay in their homes, many don’t follow the proper steps to make their homes safer.

Just a few updates will prevent falls and tragic accidents down the road, so take a look at our list of tips on how to make your living space safer, comfortable and convenient for life!

Stop trips for good

Place a non-slip pad under throw rugs.

  • The number one cause of trips in homes are slippery throw rugs, so make sure to make each rug slip proof with sticky pads or slip-proof tape.
  • If you have hardwood or tile floors, make sure that the surface isn’t too slippery. Either use slip-proof flooring or apply slip-proof coatings.
  • Try installing longer power cords for your electronics, lamps and appliances that you can tuck along a wall to avoid trips in the future.
  • Many homes have thresholds, a small raised edge, between two doors. This can cause trips and make it difficult for those in wheelchairs and walkers. Remove barriers like this with automatic door bottoms that act like special bridges that move across a difficult edge or barrier between doors, different rooms and other surfaces.

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Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

By Dr. Shaiv Kapadia, Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder, Iggbo

The United States has the best and worst healthcare system in the world. Let me explain. If you are having a heart attack or stroke or a victim of an accident, there is no better integrated system of acute care delivery on the planet. Chronic disease, however, is a completely different story. [EDITOR: The medical industrial complex spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex, to avoid disrupting healthcare as they know it. That’s because cutting costs to match what other advanced nations pay per capita would mean losing over $1.5 trillion/year in profits – profits that today mostly come from treating symptoms.] Read More …

Medical Marijuana Lowers Prescription Drug Abuse

Medical Marijuana Lowers Prescription Drug Abuse

Research Shows That Medical Marijuana Lowers Prescription Drug Abuse

Guest article by Helen Smith

The abuse of prescription opioids such as heroin, morphine and prescription painkillers is a global problem affecting up to 36 million people worldwide. Opioid addiction is of particular concern in the United States, with over two million people abusing prescription medications and around half a million addicted to heroin. The consequences of opioid abuse are immense; the Centers for Disease Control (CDCP) and Prevention notes that deaths via the overdose of prescription medications have risen four-fould since 1999; almost half of all opioid overdose deaths involve prescription medications. The most common medications which contribute to so many needless deaths, are methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone. The CDC notes that around 1,000 people are treated daily in emergency rooms following the abuse of prescription drugs.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel, though, with research showing that medical marijuana may curb the rate of prescription drug abuse. Read More …