Education & Healthcare
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Tort Reform, and Why It Does Not Work

One issue in the US is that doctors are so worried about malpractice suits, that they prescribe defensive medicine for their patients, so that they can avoid being sued for millions of dollars. An often proposed solution is tort reform, which basically caps the money you can win in a malpractice suit. However, this has proven to not work, and for a rather depressing reason. In several instances where tort reform has been implemented at the state level, the chain reaction begins as planned. Less lawsuits happen, insurance companies save money. The idea is that next, malpractice premiums go down, and doctors practice less defensive medicine, saving a lot of money. However, insurance companies do not charge less for malpractice, instead pocketing all the profits. This speaks to a widespread idea that insurance companies are particularly greedy and parasitic to our system. Tort reform does not seem to work, although the idea continues to linger when we consider healthcare reform. 

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How Administration Costs Affect the US Healthcare Expenditure

How Administration Costs Affect the US Healthcare Expenditure | Education & Healthcare | Scoop.it

The administrative aspect of our healthcare system costs about 91 billion more than it should. While this does not compare to outpatient care, this might be the most useless aspect of our healthcare system. Because we rely so heavily on private insurance companies and stress the free market so heavily, we have many, many insurance companies, all looking for a slice of a very profitable pie. As a result, we allocate a lot of our funds to simply sorting out patients insurance. If we had a single payor system, the government would simply pay one group for many patients. But everyone has a different plan and a different insurer. The larger, depressing issue is that our private insurance industry is so vital to our economy that we cannot bear to part from it. 

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What is Healthcare?

What is Healthcare? | Education & Healthcare | Scoop.it

Rebecca has seen the shortcomings of healthcare and has an unconventional, but seemingly obvious solution. She has noticed that all problems - medical, economical, emotional - seem to be related to some underlying physical deficiency (food, water, sleep, etc.). Her solution? While surgeries and drugs are mainstays of healthcare, Rebecca suggests we should try and focus more on providing basic needs to everybody. She defines this as healthcare, in hopes that this is integrated into hospitals and receives the kind of funding that other aspects of the healthcare system receives. This solution makes sense (although she does not have much proven data) and appeals as a go-to-the-root-of-the-problem solution. My biggest question is just how much change can she truly instill? Like many other interesting ideas, America shuns them in some weird testament to traditional American values. Currently, she has a system in which patients in Harlem with certain health issues are automatically directed to her. While this is intriguing and possibly the best method to spread this concept around the country, it seems far fetched to believe this will truly catch on. 

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Child Author Sheds Light on American Healthcare Woes

The video essentially breaks down the fact that we pay way more than other countries for healthcare and with no benefits. The main issue is that everything costs more - WAY more. A big reason why is because we are one of the few countries that has no adopted a single payor system, in which one entity (typically the government) buys healthcare for everybody. Because it is not a single, impersonal entity buying the healthcare, the healthcare companies can bargain with the person whose health is on the line! This is known as "inelastic demand". He blames this for an spending excess of 500 billion dollars per year. With that money, what we could to for other sects of our country, and the budget deficit, shows just how much a drag our healthcare system has become on our nation. 

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Colonoscopies Explain Why US Healthcare is so Costly

Colonoscopies Explain Why US Healthcare is so Costly | Education & Healthcare | Scoop.it

Like nearly every other drug, test, and procedure, colonoscopies cost way more in the US than they do in any other country, despite the fact that medical outcomes in the US are not noticeably superior. The article cites a number of reasons. Since their inception, colonoscopies have been found to be less successful, more invasive, and more expensive than alternative procedures for screening colon cancer. While other countries have quickly reacted to this fact, the US leads the world in colonoscopies and it has become a commonly known procedure. Additionally, because we rely so heavily on insurance, patients have no knowledge of what their healthcare costs, only to receive a bill weeks later. Without the costs mentioned, patients tend to want multiple, expensive solutions - this leads to a third problem. More so than any other country, the US healthcare system relies heavily on specialists and outpatient procedures, even though this is wildly more expensive and there are no substantial benefits. This leads me to wonder how much of the cost of the healthcare is a result of the patients unawareness. The US has a flawed system, but is the American patient unable to help themselves?

 

An issue I found with this article is that it paints hospitals and the actual care givers as enemies of the patient, lumping them together with insurance and pharmaceutical companies. 

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How Obama's "Cadillac Tax" Could Relieve US Healthcare Costs

How Obama's "Cadillac Tax" Could Relieve US Healthcare Costs | Education & Healthcare | Scoop.it

This article presents possible pros and cons to Obama's "Cadillac Tax". This tax would essentially tax the most expensive healthcare plans. This will mostly impact employer insurance plans. This will surely motivate some employers to cut down on insurance plans for their employees. This only helps if it affects how employees buy healthcare, and could potentially affect employee health down the road. Another issue is that it is hard to cut down on health care spending, as ObamaCare made it so even basic coverage covers most areas. This could also result in companies pulling out of your salary instead. This will not change healthcare spending and, because the intricacies of the healthcare system is unknown to many, might lead to financial woes for the employees. 

 

However, the article points out that this tax could potentially "stimulate private-sector innovation", which could help lower healthcare costs as a whole. This seemed fairly unbiased, but the author used to be a Republican congressman, so it is important to read it with a grain of salt. 

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Children's Prescription Drug Use Chart

Children's Prescription Drug Use Chart | Education & Healthcare | Scoop.it
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This picture describes the amount and type of prescription drugs given to kids throughout their childhood. Some trends appear benign and make sense - babies need more gastrointestinal and anti-infective drugs, girls need hormonal drugs as they get older. It is troubling that kids need more drugs as they get older, regardless of the drug. But the most noticeable issue is the number of CNS drugs given to kids from ages 9-18. CNS (central nervous system) drugs are often associated for ADHD, anxiety, and depression. The larger issue with this is that America is known for excessive prescription and diagnosis for these kind of conditions. One question I have is why boys seem to need more CNS drugs vs. girls?

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How Outpatient Care affects American Healthcare Costs

How Outpatient Care affects American Healthcare Costs | Education & Healthcare | Scoop.it

Outpatient care is the single largest cost in our healthcare system. In 2006 (so we have had 8 years to inflate this number), it accounted for $850 billion, or 41% of our healthcare expenditure. Given our wealth, we should spend about half of that, meaning there is roughly 425 billion we could allocate to meaningful sects of our country. One of the biggest reasons we are spending so much is because we opt to have a lot of procedures done in outpatient care that many countries do as inpatient care. In the bigger picture, however, there seems to be no obvious source of excessive spending, meaning we will have to cut seemingly necessary things in order to cut down on spending. 

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A Quick Summary on ObamaCare

Aaron describes ObamaCare, mentioning first that most people will not experience huge differences because their healthcare is covered by an employer/family. ObamaCare is based on three principles - known as the three legged stool, because without the other principles, no one principle applies. The first leg is the individual mandate. The US is one of the few developed countries that does not provide universal healthcare. However, we cannot just adopt a universal healthcare system because it would never pass and our economy is too entrenched in the insurance business. So instead, we are demanding that everybody get insurance. But not everybody can afford insurance, introducing the second leg. In order to reduce insurance prices, the US is regulating the insurance companies, making sure that they do not overcharge and that they do not discriminate based on the customers health. Additionally, for those who can't afford it, we are subsidizing their premiums. 

 

Although this seems like a potentially good idea, there are way better solutions (that ObamaCare actually seems to try and emulate), and it seems that the only reason we are unable to consider those options is that we, as a country, are indecisive and stubborn. 

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S.F. schools experiences backlash regarding changes in special-education changes

S.F. schools experiences backlash regarding changes in special-education changes | Education & Healthcare | Scoop.it

Originally, special ed teachers were employed at schools (by the schools choice) and kids who were deemed eligible would go to the special ed teachers. An issue with this was that kids who needed special ed were essentially unable to attend schools that did not have special ed teachers. This limits options for kids that are often in situations where they need support and freedom to grow alongside other kids. 

 

The solution decided by the SF school system is to have special ed teachers follow their students to their new schools. This means the kids can go wherever they want and develop a relationship with one teacher (or a couple) along the way. This introduces co-taught classes, which are classes taught by both a regular teacher and a special ed teacher. Although it requires an adjustment period, beyond special ed, this allows for teachers to cater to the naturally unique skills of each kid. Live Oak, where I attended K-8, has been using co-taught classes since I began attending. From experience, I can say it helps the class learn as a whole and develop as well-rounded individuals. However, parents have not been happy during the transition period, and it is unsure how well this will work after the first year. Once the first year has passed, special ed teachers will follow students to their next school, meaning that every year, some schools will get more special ed teachers, and some less. This can potentially mean that schools will have years where they do not have many special ed teachers. This raises the question: why don't schools just have all classes co-taught by special ed teachers, and not have them move around from school to school? The issue is less about teachers following students, and more about simply allowing the students to do as they please. Secondly, why is this such a new concept when I have seen this since Kindergarten? I understand a rift between private and public schools, but its been ~13 years. 

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