Sunday, October 18, 2009

The cure for health care coverage

If anyone is feeling confused about health care it's probably because you haven't listened to the This American Life episodes on the topic. They did a great job. And I say that as a reporter who is doing work on these same issues (actually preparing a radio piece that overlaps with their segment on PSA tests a lot). They zeroed in on the fundamental problem: skyrocketing costs. They explained exactly why they are so high. There are a lot of factors - but all in all it's not so complicated. The real mystery to me is why no one has done this before. Instead we get reporters running around in manic circles, yelling at the insurance agencies, or the doctors, or big pharma. Are we so oriented on rooting out the villains that we journalists lost the ability to do good reporting on this? It's as if we are back to the time when the crops fail (or premiums rise) and to solve the problem we tie some woman (or HMO executive) to a tree and light the fire.
Admittedly, there's a lot to health care reform that is utterly counterintuitive (eg more doctors competing drives the cost of care up, eg care can kill) and people like Shannon Brownlee have traversed this path before (actually it seemed like TAL was borrowing a lot from "Overtreated"). But still, hats off to TAL.

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