Archive for November, 2017

Fresh Health Wonk Review and a big roundup of recent work comp news

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Andrew Sprung has the most recent compendium from the health wonks  at xpostfactoid:

Late Days of Empire Edition: Health Wonk Review. The wonks’ entries are reflecting the healthcare market chaos of the times – check it out! Also note that two weeks from today, we’ll be hosting the next edition here at Workers Comp Insider!


Other workers comp news of note along with general interest items that caught our attention:

Net neutrality & why you should care: If you are a blog afcianado – or if you just like a free an open internet, please make your voice heard about net neutraility. Don’t let the internet service providers do to the internet what cable companies did to TV – make your voice heard in favor of Net Neutrality which is at serious risk or being rescinded. See RIP net neutrality: FCC chair releases plan to deregulate ISPs. This requires immediate action: the vote is December 14. Make your voice heard.

Purdue Pharma: In this weeks’s HWR, Joe Paduda talks about how Purdue Pharma is trying to limit legal liability in the many state suits. Related, there was an excellent recent article in Esquire by Christopher Glazek that is well worth a read: The Secretive Family Making Billions From the Opioid Crisis.

Blankenship for Senate? Convicted coal baron Don Blankenship announced his intention to challenge Joe Manchin for a senate seat in West Virginia. We’re talking about Don Blankenship who was CEO of Massey Energy Co. at the time of a 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 miners. We have opinions on Blankenship that we’ve expressed over the years. Hint: thumbs down for the senate.

Grain Bin deaths: Over $1.8 Million in Proposed Fines Following Fatal Grain Dust Explosion – OSHA has proposed $1,837,861 in fines against Didion Milling Inc. following a May 2017 grain dust explosion that killed five workers and injured 12 others, including a 21-year-old employee who suffered a double leg amputation after being crushed by a railcar. We hope the fine will stick – see our prior post Walking down the grain – and the fines.

Gripping read: Atul Gawande’s twitter pointed us to a remarkable story in Emergency Physician’s Monthly: How One Las Vegas ED Saved Hundreds of Lives After the Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History. Hats off to the incredible medical teams!

Nail salons: US nail salons: the challenge to protect workers from toxic chemicals – Critics mock an EPA scheme to create ‘healthy salons’, but Julia Carrie Wong hears how it is tackling an ‘epidemic’ of health problems from staff, many of whom are Vietnamese immigrants.

Jennifer Christian posts Avoid “one-size-fits-all” thinking in evidence-based medicine, which challenges a blind spot in current thinking – worth a read. From our vantage, Dr. C is always in the forefront of new occ med thinking.

Bionic safety? medGadget has news that Ford is trialing the Exoskeleton to help prevent worker injuries. The device is made by Ekso, a company that devlops full-body exoskeletons for paralyzed people, but the firm thins the technology can prevent injuries in workers who perform physically difficult repeat tasks, such as operating the overhead machinery.

More news – quick links

The American Health Care Paradox: A Lot Of Money For Poor Results

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Here’s something all Americans can agree on: Health care costs way too much. But way too much in reference to what? Well, how about the rest of the developed world? How about wealthy countries, our peers, in the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development?

The OECD was formed in 1961. Headquartered in Paris with a membership of 35 nations, the OECD’s mission is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. Annually, it performs comparative analyses of issues affecting its members. One such issue is health care.

Want to know about health care spending around the world, infant mortality, life expectancy, doctors and nurses per capita and a host of other health care topics? The OECD is the place to go.

Which brings us to American health care, which I suggest is a classic paradox. On the one hand, on a per capita basis, we spend 41% more on health care than our wealthy nation peers in the OECD and 81% more than the entire 35-nation OECD average.

OECD Health Care Funding – 2015

(Light blue – Private Funding; Dark blue – Public Funding)

As you can see, while our public funding (Medicare, Medicaid, etc) is comparable to many of the other 34 countries in the OECD, Germany, France and the UK for example, private funding in the US is more than 100% greater than Switzerland, our closest competitor, and 300% greater than the OECD average.

This might be fine if we got what we paid for, but that is not the case. As an example, consider something that should be important to us all: life expectancy. In the US, life expectancy at birth is 78.8 years (76.3 for men; 81.2 for women). In the UK, it’s 81 (79.2 for men; 82.8 for women). In Japan, life expectancy at birth is a whopping 83.9 (80.8 for men; 87.1 for women).

What about infant mortality, the number of deaths of children under one year of age, expressed per 1,000 live births? Our infant mortality rate of 6.1 is 45% higher than the UKs, at 4.2, and 265% higher than Japan’s 2.3 rate.

Curious about obesity? Our obesity and overweight rate is exceeded only by New Zealand’s.

And stop for a moment and consider cancer. Judging by the television ads, one would think the US has more cancer treatment centers than golf courses. Yet our death rate from cancer per 100,000 people is 188. Mexico’s is 115; Japan’s, 177.

In fact, just about the only metric in which we lead the world is smoking cessation. So, yes, it’s paradoxical. Sort of like a big-market baseball team spending gazillions more for players than any other team, only to finish out of the running.

And now, into the fray trots the Republican tax reform plan, which is looking more and more like it will actually become law. This plan would cause 13 million people to  find health insurance unaffordable, which means their new PCP will be their old PCP, the local emergency room where costs are stratospherically higher than anywhere else. In addition, $25 billion will be cut from Medicare, which, although it’s only 4% of the total Medicare budget of $588 billion, can’t be good as more and more baby boomers age into Medicare.

Fixing health care in America is going to take time and a lot more money, but we have to start somewhere, sometime. It’s hard to see where the Republican tax plan even approaches trying to do that.

Health Wonk Review and a tribute to our veterans

Friday, November 10th, 2017

At Healthcare Economist, Jason Shafrin has posted the latest compendium of posts from the health policy bloggers: Health Wonk Review: Quote-of-the-day Edition. He frames each submission with a pithy quote. While the overall shape and politics of the healthcare debate are still a primary theme of posts, there are other entries, including two videos. Grab a coffee and catch up on the latest thinking from the wonks.

This weekend, we pay tribute to our veterans and thank them for their service and sacrifice. We end with this advice: How to honor veterans: Hire one!