A roundup of some interesting/thoughtful/informative reading I’ve encountered online lately:
If you haven’t already checked out the Kaiser Health News series "Are You Covered?", take the opportunity to do so. It covers the whole range of health coverage – the federal employee health plan, gold-plated plans, Medicare, Medicaid, the individual market and more. This excellent series, which is co-produced by NPR, also includes video and interviews with people about their experiences with their health coverage.
MinnPost has a couple of good reads published in just the past week. First, there’s an in-depth look at General Assistance Medical Care, Minnesota’s publicly funded health program for impoverished adults who don’t have children. The program was axed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty earlier this year during the state budget unallotment process. Its elimination doesn’t take effect until next year but, as MinnPost reports, time may be running out to find an alternative.
Pity the poor pig who came down with a case of swine flu at the Minnesota State Fair. What exactly is the story with inter-species transfer of the influenza virus? If humans, pigs and birds can share their influenza, why doesn’t my cat get sick too? MinnPost offers an interesting examination of the science behind this question.
For years, the mantra has been to screen, screen, screen for cancer. Increasingly, however, the evidence shows that the benefits of cancer screening have been overpromoted. Even the American Cancer Society, which has long championed the need for screening and early detection, is now starting to back off on this message. The New York Times explains what led to this change of heart and explores the difficulties of conveying it to the public.
It’s not uncommon to hear people boasting about how they "fired" their doctor. They shouldn’t get overly smug about it because doctors sometimes fire their patients too. No matter who initiates it, though, ending the relationship is hard to do, Dr. Rob Lamberts laments in "Breaking Up."
"The Exam Room – Three Views" is short but poignant. This vignette by a Minnesota physician was one of the honorable mention winners in Minnesota Medicine magazine’s annual creative writing contest and appears in the October issue online. No one in this fictional exam room is happy to be there, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to be even unhappier by the time the encounter is over.
Finally, from the sWell blog by Dr. Rahul Parikh, comes this story of "Regina Holliday and the Art of Health Care Reform." Regina Holliday is an art teacher and painter whose husband died of kidney cancer last year at the age of 39. Dr. Parikh writes:
The Hollidays’ experience is a case study in the ugliest, most festering problems of American health care. To share that horror story and to advocate for change, she began painting a portrait of a health care system that is fragmented and insensitive. It is a system where caregivers like Regina have to unfairly shoulder many bureaucratic burdens and one that needs to treat people better than the way it did her husband.
When we talk about health care reform, are we talking about changing the way patients and families actually experience health care? Or are we only talking about money and policy? Which of these is more important? Read the story to find out how Regina Holliday might answer this question.