When Lorie Duff was pregnant with her third child, she did what all good moms are supposed to do. She went to the OB/GYN clinic for prenatal care. But she fell behind on the clinic payments. She only made about $25,000 a year managing an auto parts store while her husband stayed home with their kids. The out-of-pocket expenses were outpacing her ability to pay. That’s when she ...

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Imagine that you are gasping for breath, literally on the verge of death. Then someone injects you with a medicine and -- miracle! -- you are perfectly healthy again. Would you pay $300 for that injection? The treatment is epinephrine; your illness was a life-threatening allergy. And that $300 price? That reflects a six-fold increase from a couple of years ago. It’s one thing for medications to be ...

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Knee replacements are booming. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of knee replacement procedures in the United States doubled, to more than one million. Experts think the figure might rise sixfold more in the next couple decades, because of our aging population. Since many people receiving knee replacements are elderly, Medicare picks up most of the cost of such procedures. In response to this huge rise in expenditures, ...

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I was raised in a family that hates taxes. Not hates taxes as in, “Gosh, it’s too bad such a high percentage of my paycheck goes to the government.” More like: “How dare the government steal my hard-earned money and give it to undeserving moochers?” (Is there such a thing as a deserving moocher? Sorry, I digress.) The origins of this anti-tax sentiment are deeply ideological, steeped in a frothy mix ...

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I know why I sometimes eat too many brownies. They taste great! The same goes, of course, for a whole slew of desserts -- I love me my strawberry rhubarb pie, and I never say no to a ginger snap. And while a touch of dessert is often a fine way to top off dinner, many of us get in trouble when we gorge on desserts. So how can we get ...

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A friend of mine recently had a very sore throat. She knew how to manage her symptoms — lozenges, warm tea and the like. But she was worried she might have strep and would, therefore, need antibiotics. That should be a simple question to answer with a quick trip to the primary care clinic. Except that her primary care physician was booked, and if she wanted an unscheduled appointment with ...

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It used to be that hospitals billed Medicare for the services they provided, and Medicare -- I know this is crazy! - simply paid the bills. Those days are rapidly receding into history. Soon, a significant chunk of hospital revenue will be at risk, under a series of Medicare pay-for-performance programs. The idea behind P4P (as the cool kids call it) is simple. Third-party payers, like insurance companies or the Medicare ...

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According to many conservative pundits, Obamacare is a job killer. Five days before Obama signed the law, in fact, speaker John Boehner declared that the president was pushing “his job-killing government takeover of health care that will hurt small businesses.” Years after the law was passed, critics continued trumpeting this theme, Ted Cruz calling Obamacare “the biggest job-killer in this country,” and even claiming that “millions ...

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My son was underperforming at school, and I was gently encouraging him to try harder (if gesticulating like an over-caffeinated Italian qualifies as gentle encouragement). He could not understand why I was upset: “Dad, most of my friends are doing drugs and engaging in unprotected sex. You should be rewarding me for being such a good kid.” “Reward you for not being bad?!,” I replied incredulously. That made no sense to ...

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According to recent research, a hug a day could keep the doctor away. According to another study, Twitter can predict the chance that people will experience heart attacks. A normal blogger would look at these two findings and tell a story about the relationship between stress and health. I’m not normal. I looked at these two studies and came to a different conclusion -- that we ...

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