A popular television commercial shows a group of older women playing cards. One woman talks about her friend who is struggling financially since her husband died (the husband only had a small life insurance policy). Another lady said that she doesn’t have to worry about that happening since her husband has an XYZ insurance policy. The other ladies immediately ask about the policy. Then a TV pitchman describes the policy ...

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Before losing my health insurance in 2009, it never occurred to me to be concerned about a little thing like a blood test.  Since 1986 I’d been having three vials of blood drawn each year during my physical.  My doctor would authorize it, the nurse would draw the blood in the office and send it to the lab for processing.

A few days later she would call me ...

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I'm impressed by how much we struggle with seemingly simple health decisions when faced with sorting through too much information. Buying sunscreen: It's a simple task, right? Most of us do it every year about this time. And among actions we can take to reduce our risk of cancer in general and skin cancer specifically, this choice is fairly important. So my colleague was surprised to hear this snippet of conversation as she contemplated ...

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Media-fueled flip-flops and research breakthroughs on lifestyle and health behaviors are wearing down my usual patience with the provisional nature of science. Even simple dietary recommendations like ...

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According to the recent Wall Street Journal article patients are encouraged to engage in care, keep track of their medical data, seek preventive care, and to manage their conditions. Studies show that if patients are actively involved in care and partner with providers, that they experience better health outcomes and lower costs. But for patients to be active participants in care they must acquire knowledge about their diagnoses and treatment plans, ...

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If only our lives were more predictable and certain, we’d feel a greater sense of security and safety. Yet, much of what happens to us is beyond our ability to control. This is true whether we live in a third-world country or in the most advanced scientific and technological environment. It’s also true whether we’re struggling to make ends meet or living in the lap of luxury. No one is immune ...

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What if healthy pregnancies were treated like special needs pregnancies? Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, good afternoon. I’m Doctor Dumas, a visiting obstetrician in Doctor Kwak’s practice. It’s nice to meet you. Look, there’s no easy way to say this, so at the risk of sounding blunt, I have some bad news. The technician and I reviewed your scans and we found that you’re about ten weeks along with a human fetus. I’m not seeing ...

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We tell ourselves many things about our health each day, every day, all day long. The vast majority are unintentional, uninspired and blunt. A particularly sinful dessert brings admonishment, “You should not have eaten that.” Panting after two flights of stairs call for an exasperated, “I am out of shape!” Receiving a diagnosis prompts mental overdrive of “What if I don’t survive this?” thoughts. Learning my diagnosis of chronic kidney disease ...

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I know the ropes at the VA ... I'll pick up the phone in a heartbeat and call my senator and get what I need right away. A lot of guys aren't like that. –Max Gruzen, PTSD patient, Vietnam veteran from the New York Times So this is what it means to be an "engaged" patient in the VA system today. You have to know a senator who will intervene on your ...

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Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. - Marie Shear Recent speaking clients know that I often note the parallels between the patient movement and other cultural revolutions: the women’s movements, civil rights, gay rights, disability rights. (I mention disability issues less often, but it was disability advocate Ed Roberts who said in the 1990s, after years of struggle: “When someone else speaks for you, you lose.”) As anyone who’s heard me ...

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