Incentives matter: after back surgery, a routine urine test resulted in a $17,800 bill the patient was expected to pay

At a followup visit a year after Elizabeth Moreno had a disk removed to successfully treat her crippling pain, her doctor asked her to leave a urine sample; a few months later, Sunset Labs LLC of Houston sent her a bill for $17,800. Read the rest

Trump wants to cap lifetime Medicaid benefits, even for disabled people, the chronically ill, and people with Alzheimer's

If Trump gets his way, your elderly relatives will be evicted from nursing homes after their Alzheimer's care eats up their lifetime Medicaid benefits; as Yves Smith writes, "are family members supposed to let them wander out into traffic and have nature take its course?" Read the rest

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase announce new health insurer 'free from profit-making incentives and constraints'

Investor Warren Buffet, world's-richest-guy Jeff Bezos and cartoon villain Jamie Dimon have announced that their firms will collaborate to create an unnamed health insurer that is "free from profit-making incentives and constraints" (though that does not necessarily mean it will be a nonprofit, of course).

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For 100 minutes, more than a million tuned into Sanders' Medicare for All town hall

Bernie Sanders decided that the media would never give a fair shake to his bill proposing universal healthcare in America, so he sidestepped them by livestreaming a "Medicare for All town hall" where experts discussed the proposal, prompted by Sanders as a kind of talk-show host. Read the rest

Even though Trump supporters are impervious to fact-checks on most subjects, they still know that the GOP tax plan is a giveaway to the super-rich

Shortly after the election of Donald Trump, Russian exile Masha Gessen's essay Autocracy: Rules for Survival swept the internet, offering both hope and caution for the years to come. Read the rest

ACA isn't enough: single-payer is a feminist issue

Any health-care system that depends on employers or wages is going to privilege the people with the highest-paid jobs (men) and take away power from people who do the bulk of unwaged work (women). Read the rest

Investigation into emergency rooms shows that for-profit hospitals engage in billions in price-gouging

Vox undertook a deep investigation into emergency room pricing, finding that emergency rooms, being the most monopolistic aspect of hospital care (because you don't shop for an ER while you're having a heart attack in the back of an ambulance) are also the most abusive and price-gouging. Read the rest

Incentives matter: America's for-profit medical industry thrives on massive wastage, unnecessary procedures, overbilling and overtreating

The first time I interacted with the US medical system was when I was a student at Michigan State University with a comprehensive travel insurance package my bank sold me before I left Canada: the cafeteria food gave me my first case of acid reflux and after it had persisted for several days, I went to the walk-in clinic on campus. Read the rest

Trump found someone even worse than Tom Price to regulate Health and Human Services: an insulin profiteer

When Trump's Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price lost his job for chartering private jets to fly him all around America, it left a vacancy in Trump's cabinet of billionaire gators that he's been filling the DC swamp with. Read the rest

America's private health-care is rationed, but socialized medicine is luxury medicine

To hear America's fearmongering private health-care shills describe it, socialized medicine is a kind of Soviet death march, where rationed care and long waits are imposed on all and sundry; but if that state of affairs sounds familiar, it's because of how neatly it describes America's dysfunctional private care system, where you need to change doctors every time you change employers, where your care is denied and your prescriptions are deemed unnecessary by faceless insurance-company bureaucrats, and where three quarters of your family doctor's overheads are dedicated to filling in insurance forms in triplicate and chasing payment in a kind of LARP of Terry Gilliam's Brazil or a Stalinist hospital in deepest Siberia. Read the rest

Reminder: Obamacare Open Enrollment begins today and runs to Dec 15

Get insured, folks: just because the Trump administration is doing everything it can to take away healthcare from millions of Americans (including refusing to tell anyone that enrollment is open!), doesn't mean you have to go along with it. Pass it on! Read the rest

Universal health care is "free stuff" as in "freedom"

Jeb Bush accused Democrats of winning black votes by promising "free stuff," and then Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of "promising free this and free that and free everything." But universal health care is free as in "freedom." Read the rest

The copay assumes the 99% treat healthcare like spiteful buffet gorgers

The basis for the health-insurance copay is that the 99% need to be disincentivized from "abusing" their health-care and going to the doctor for frivolous ailments (if this was really a thing, we'd have sliding-scale copays that charged rich people astounding sums to see the doctor, to ensure that everyone's incentives were properly aligned). Read the rest

America's execs increasingly believe health insurance industry is worse than useless

It's not just Warren Buffett and his Republican lieutenant Charlie Munger who favor single payer and view the US health insurance industry as a drag on national competitiveness and a needless expense on the bottom line: it's also companies like Walmart, Boeing, and GE, who have stopped paying insurers, buying services for their employees directly from hospitals and health-care providers. Read the rest

Health insurance premiums to go up 20% for many in 2018 if Trump makes good on threat to stop U.S. payments

Health insurance premiums for many people who get their coverage on the ACA/Obamacare individual insurance markets will go up 20 percent next year if President Donald Trump executes on his repeated threats to halt billions of dollars in payments to health insurers.

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Establishment Dems worried they'll get primaried if they don't back single-payer healthcare

The establishment wing of the Democratic Party has spent decades receiving dump-trucks full of money from the insurance industry and then, totally coincidentally, explaining that the time isn't right for single-payer for completely unrelated reasons. Read the rest

Big data + private health insurance = game over

Once big data systems agglomerate enough data about you to predict whether you are likely to get sick or badly injured, insurers will be able to deny coverage (or charge so much for it that it amounts to the same thing) to anyone who is likely to get sick, forcing everyone who might ever need insurance into medical bankruptcy, and turning Medicaid into a giant "high-risk pool" that taxpayers foot the bill for. Read the rest

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