I must not be the only person to wonder how pharmaceutical companies succeed with direct to consumer advertisements when, stuck in the middle of all their TV ads, are those long lists of side effects.  You know what I mean.  After watching a smiling and attractive person running through a field after receiving some wonder pill, the narrator tucks his voice down an octave and intones that the medication “could ...

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It all comes down to willpower, right?  Strength of purpose.  Muster the resolve to skip dessert, and you have a shot at losing that spare tire hanging off your belly.  Succumb to your temptations, however, and you are simply being weak. But is it just weakness that causes us to overeat? A study in Psychological Science suggests that our inability to resist that mouthwatering looking chocolate cake doesn’t arise simply because our ...

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I have been writing a bit lately on the need for health care providers to talk with their patients about health care costs, if for no other reason than to enable patients to determine whether they can afford to pay for the healthcare that their doctors are recommending them to receive.  I have been criticized for this position, on the grounds that I am rationing care from people with ...

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People have criticized the Affordable Care Act for amounting to a large transfer of wealth, from wealthy Americans to those not as well-off. But the real transfer of wealth has been from United States to other developed nations, whose health care costs we have subsidized for many years by paying so generously for many of our health care services. No better example of this comes to mind than the price ...

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The U.S. medical malpractice system is broken. It frequently does not punish doctors who need punishing, while levying fines against doctors who did nothing wrong. And this dreadfully inaccurate system still manages to take almost five years, on average, to settle claims. Experts have been promoting a type of reform known as safe harbor rules, which would shield physicians from lawsuits in cases where they were known to be following accepted ...

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“If you insure them, they will come.” Those words might as well be the mantra of hospitals across the country, because they can expect an onslaught of customers thanks to the expansion of health insurance under Obamacare. A recent study published in Science showed increased emergency room use among people in Oregon who became eligible for Medicaid, compared to others who, literally by the luck of the draw, were not chosen to ...

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The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility this year in those states which decided to follow its provisions. That means lots of people are now newly eligible for Medicaid. However, the number of people signing up for Medicaid in the states has been underwhelming. Which raises a question: How much can we expect enrollment numbers to increase over the next few years? To begin to answer that question, a group of ...

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Politics in the US is discouragingly partisan. National politics has become increasingly partisan since at least the late ’60s, when the passage of civil rights legislation influenced many conservative southern Democrats to join the Republican Party. Even state politics has become more partisan, where even famously nice people in Wisconsin have found themselves battling their neighbors across political divisions. Fortunately, most of life does not force us to confront our political differences, meaning ...

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A new study asks orthopedic surgeons to guess the price of the devices they implant: “the amount your institution currently pays the vendor for the implant.” Despite a lenient grading system, in which the researchers counted as correct any guess within 20% of the actual price, surgeons estimated costs correctly only 1 in 5 times. When I first glanced at this study, I wasn’t sure of its importance. But then I learned ...

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If you live in the rural U.S., you probably face relatively limited access to the wonders of American health care.  There won’t be as many physicians per capita offering you their services.  This paucity of health care professionals will be especially stark for subspecialty care.  There are not many ENT specialists opening up shops in rural Texas when they can find jobs in Houston or San Antonio. This undersupply of physicians ...

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