The U.S. spends nearly $3 trillion a year on health care, significantly more than any other nation. In fact, America’s annual health care spending is greater than the total gross domestic product (GDP) of every other country except China, Germany and Japan. Yet our measurable health outcomes -- from infant mortality to life expectancy -- aren’t any better than nations spending much less. I’ve written about this paradox before, pointing to a few ...

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Taking a page from firefighting to fix health care In firefighting, pump physics is one of the most critical things an engine company officer must understand.  How do we "get the wet stuff on the red stuff" in sufficient quantity without sacrificing penetrating power? The inverse ratio between volume and pressure (as the water pressure increases, volume decreases) has befuddled many a rookie lieutenant. The same, I think, is now true ...

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In the forty years since I started medical school, I have worked in socialized medicine, student health, a cash-only practice and a traditional fee for service small group practice. The bulk of my experience has been in a government-sponsored rural health clinic, working for an underserved, underinsured rural population. Today, I will make a couple of concrete suggestions, borrowing from all the places I have worked and from the latest trends ...

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Labor unions have been reliable supporters of President Obama and his policies. Their support for Obamacare was critical to its passage in 2010. Yet they are continuing to learn that their members will be paying more for their health care, not less. One of the selling points of Obamacare was the lowering of health insurance costs. Nancy Pelosi promised, “Everybody will have lower rates.” President Obama was more specific, telling us that his ...

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At the end of my interview with Chip Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestsellers “Made to Stick” and “Decisive,” I asked him what topic he’d like me to cover in the future. “I’m impressed by the culture you’ve created at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California,” he said. “You’ve generated quarter-to-quarter change that I think would have taken three years elsewhere. I don’t think most organizations know how to ...

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“It is immoral that the wealthiest nation on the planet does not provide affordable, high-quality health care to all of its citizens. Despite being the only global ‘superpower’ still standing, we trail much of the industrialized world in life expectancy, infant mortality, and countless other indicators of health. Until we fix our broken, prohibitively expensive delivery system, things will only get worse.” I’m not sure if anyone has used those ...

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So you think there is a war on doctors, don’t you? It certainly looks that way from your particular vantage point. The government is deftly intruding into your professional life with a computerized fifth column that is extracting information on your every move, and to add insult to injury, it forces you to actually collect the data which is to be used against you in the court of public opinion. ...

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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 continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014 will be as controversial as in previous years. Here are five main areas of concern: 1. The individual mandate.  By what right does the federal government “force” its citizens to buy a product they may not want? The Supreme Court upheld the mandate in 2012, but that does not end the matter. Partly -- perhaps largely -- because the ...

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“Get the suits out of medicine.” This refrain has become commonplace among physicians, who worry that patient care, the essence of medicine, is increasingly taking a backseat to bureaucratic demands on safety metrics and electronics health records as well as corporate measures of efficiency. Without physicians, after all, there is no health care system for administrators to administrate, they say. Not only do top-down regulations make patient care more cumbersome, they ...

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