Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘health and medical

Here we go again. This time around, the inspiration for me to do this is that a couple of my colleagues are suggesting that the library make an actual research guide on the topic of "health care management" using the LibGuides system we have in place. I personally have been thinking about making some kind of post on the topic for the library blog, but I think by now the topic is a bit big for just a blog post. In the case of the blog post, I was thinking of providing some general resources and some advice on how to evaluate the resources. Because I think it is easy to find information on the issue. It is also very easy to find a lot of misinformation based on FUD tactics, so people need to not only be informed, but they need to be able to evaluate the claims they find. So, what it may be worth, here is the latest stuff I have found.

  • From the American Academy of Actuaries (these are the folks whose job it is to calculate risks and then assess value. For instance, when it comes to insurance, these are the folks who decide who gets rejected, like that baby that was too fat in recent news. If you want a less snarky definition of what is an actuary, you can look here). The report basically suggests costs necessary for starting up a public health option or a health coops option. Links to news release and to the full study. Title of the report is "Federal Health Care Reform 2009: Start-up Capital Costs for Health Care Co-ops and a Public Plan." 
  • The Commonwealth Fund, a think tank with an interest in health care issues, has released results of their survey of health care leaders asking them about health care (link to news release; you can get a link to the full survey report at the site).Those surveyed are discussing Medicare and how it can be expanded. One of the reasons to look at Medicare is because it is a U.S. Government program. Yes, it is run by the government, so when certain people gripe about not wanting the government to run their health care insurance, I ask them if they want to give up their Medicare. You can insert the silence and sound of crickets now.
  • (Update note: 11/5/09): Just found this. This is the take of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the lobbyists for small businesses, on "The Top 15 Reasons Small Business Oppose H.R. 3962." Before folks buy too deeply into this, may I suggest they go do some reading over at FactCheck
  • (Update note: 11/9/09): From the Employment Benefit Research Institute, an issue brief on "Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Insured: Analysis of the 2009 Current Population Survey" (link to executive summary. You can also get the full document on that link). Worth a look.

As before, in case the random reader that finds this blog is interested, you can find my previous posts on this topic here, here, here, and here.

In addition, I saved this video on my feed reader's clippings folder. Naturally, this is not something I would give to my students as part of their research, though I would probably still urge them to watch it as an example of how the message is being transmitted. I think we need to be sharing it more because the message is an important


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(Crossposted from my professional blog, The Gypsy Librarian).

I bet my four readers at The Gypsy Librarian were expecting the next installment in my small series on blogging mistakes and library blogs (first installment here). I am taking a break today to highlight a very important issue as well as let my four readers know about some of the good work going on in my campus. Ok, this is kind of to let people know where I was last night too. The series will resume next Friday.

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October has a few observances associated with it. One of those observances is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (link to President Obama's proclamation). Last night I attended a candlelight vigil held on our campus to recognize the issue of domestic violence and to educate people. The event took place at 7:00pm last night in the fourth floor meeting room of the library. They were going to do it outdoors, but the weather did not cooperate. Nevertheless the event was successful, and from a quick glance, I think we had about 50 people or so. We did get some representatives from our campus police, a very strong Greek presence (ladies and gents), and some students. I was the only representative of the library present. The room's lights were down, and the room was lit with candles. At the entrance, there was a display with educational materials.

The event started with an opening statement by Ms. Samantha Dwight, who among her many hats has done work for the Campus Assault Response Effort (CARE) and is an educator/facilitator/presenter extraordinaire on this and other gender issues. She does a bit of everything, so if she reads this I apologize in advance if I can't quite "put her in a slot." At any rate, she read a statement, including a recognition of the important role that law enforcement officers have in domestic violence prevention. Those men and women in uniform when they get a call never know what they may be walking into. So our thanks go to them.

Next, the ladies of Alpha Chi Omega took the stage and did a dramatic reading. Members of the sorority took turns reading statistics and facts related to domestic violence in the nation. This had a moving effect on the crowd, and we learned a thing or two in the process. The last member on stage sang a song.

The activity would come to an end as a prayer was said for the victims as well as those involved in caring for them as well as for us all. And silently the event closed.

Whenever possible, I think it is important for me to attend events like this. In my role as outreach librarian, this is another way for me to reach out to our campus community, another way for the library to say present and that we support the cause. Personally, I just think this is important and needs to be supported. We have a long way to go in educating people, and events like this are a way to do it.

I would like to wrap this up by offering some links and resources that I hope people will find useful. Please, if you happen to be a victim, or you know someone who is, know that there is help out there. Some of the links will include phone numbers and contacts. On our campus here, the folks at C.A.R.E. are one such resource. Need more information, and you are local, you can contact them, or you can contact me, and I will refer you to the right place or find you the information you may need.

The resources then:

  • The Domestic Violence Awareness Project. These are the folks who promote and maintain activities for the observance, which started as an awareness "Day of Unity" back in October of 1981. The Project is coordinated by the National Center on Domestic Violence. You can learn about campaigns, find educational materials, and get links, and phone numbers if you need help. Of course, if you are in imminent danger, dial 911.
  • The National Coalition on Against Domestic Violence. Among the things this organization does, "the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), in conjunction with Ms. Magazine, started the Remember My Name project in 1994 to create a national registry of names of those who have lost their lives to domestic violence. Since then, NCADV has continued to collect information on incidents of people who have been killed by an intimate partner and produces a poster each year for Domestic Violence Awareness Month listing the names of those submitted to the project. To date, over 7,753 people have been memorialized through the project." Names are added daily to the list, which you can view on the website.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice has an Office on Violence Against Women. In addition to listing national hotlines, the site contains a lot of good information, including statistics.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a handbook on domestic violence awareness. This seems geared to employers so they can be supportive in the workplace. Provides some good information.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The number is 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Their contact form can also be used to get assistance if you prefer, though they encourage calling more. You can also find some information on the site.
  • The National Youth Violence Prevention Center also has resources related to the observance here. Yes, it is not just spouses or significant others; children and youths in families where an abusive situation exists suffer too.
  • The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) is also a good resource.
  • In Texas, the Attorney General has some resources here. A bit more geared to sexual assault, but still good information.
  • There is also a Texas Council on Family Violence.
  • Locally, you have the good folks of the East Texas Crisis Center. If you need help locally, this is a place to go.

This small list is certainly not comprehensive. I have tried to put out some resources that I have looked over and seem to provide good information. Readers are invited to comment, respond, and if they have other suggestions for links, add in the comments as well.

And yes, I tagged the post under "celebrations and holidays." It is not because I think domestic violence is to be celebrated; it is not. But this is also about a monthly observance, which is what I use the tag for. Just to be clear.

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And the saga continues as Congress has pretty much proven that they are bought and sold by the insurance industry. I am really, really trying not to go on a rant, but it is getting harder these days not to. I get the impression that we pretty much are not going to get any significant reform at all from the current crop of legislators. In the unlikely miracle that something were passed, as soon as mid-elections come around, and the right wing machine steamrolls in with misinformation and fear, thus getting rid of the current Democrat majority, you know those people will be working hard to repeal said miracle of something passing. In plain English, we may well end up worse off.

When I kept the blog for students here on Vox, under a different url, one of the things I used to do was collect links and resources on various hot topics. These were things I thought they would find useful for their papers, especially for freshman composition where they had to write argumentative essays on current events. Health care reform back then, we are talking four or five years ago, was a hot topic as it is now. Anyone with access could find articles on a database, so I tried to go past that to locate government documents, think tank reports, so on, that students often overlook. Also, I like the idea of having the studies that news organizations like CNN report on. People really need to read the actual documents once in a while, so to that end I do these little link dump postings with some commentary. I can get some of my thoughts off my chest, and I can provide pieces of information. And when it comes to health care reform, we need all the information we can get. We need to dispel the fears and educate people. Maybe, even though the hope is infinitesimal, people will wake up and do what is right. By the way, as a disclosure, when I used to keep the student resource blog, I would not add my personal comment like I did above, tempting as it could be. Since this is my "scratch pad," I feel more comfortable throwing in an opinion or two.

So, here are the links for this week:

  • Let's start with the infamous IHAP (America's Health Insurance Plans; note that AHIP is basically the health insurance industry's lobbying organization) report, the one on "Potential Impact of Health Reform on the Cost of Private Health Insurance Coverage" (link to full report in PDF). This is the report that some of the news organizations have identified as biased, incomplete and debunked. See for example MArc Ambinder posting for The Atlantic here. Here is some reporting on the pushback against the report from CNN. Now, I link to the report because I think people should at least look at the executive summary with the key findings. Of course, they also need to seek other sources, including sources that not show as much self-interest and bias as AHIP does. That is basic information literacy right there: the ability to evaluate sources for bias and interest. Report found via Docuticker
  • The Urban Institute released a report on "The Cost of Failure to Enact Health Care Reform: Implications for States (link to the publication abstract. You can get the full report there in PDF). You could go with the IHAP report and give a pass to the insurance companies, who will keep raising rates and dropping coverage for people regardless of whether there is reform or not. Or you can read this report and see what can (and will likely happen) if no reform is enacted. From the abstract: "The report makes clear that the cost of failure would be substantial and felt in every state. The analysis shows that if federal reform efforts fail, over the next decade in every state, the percent of the population that is uninsured will increase, employer-sponsored coverage will continue to erode, spending on public programs will balloon, and individual and family out-of-pocket costs could increase by more than 35 percent." I think I can trust an organization that provides "independent nonpartisan analysis of the problems facing America's cities and their residents." Report found via Docuticker
  • The Urban Institute also has put out a brief looking at age issues when it comes to insurance premiums, in other words, what they may charge a senior when compared to a younger person. This one may require a bit closer reading because these are the things discussed when the insurance companies claim that rates will go up and bring up the idea of sharing risk. The brief is "Age Rating Under Comprehensive Health Care Reform: Implications for Coverage, Costs, and Household Financial Burdens" (link to PDF). 
  • The Center for Community Change reports that "New Report, Documentary Debunk Myth; Show Heartland Favors Favors Health Care Reform" (link to press release. You can get the report and look at the short documentary via their links). This is the kind of resource you would rarely see in the major news. Much of the news coverage covers the angry people, the so-called teabaggers who claim that people in the middle of America hate any idea of health care reform. This source should start providing some refutation to the claim. But we still have a long way to educating people. Found via Docuticker. You can find the direct link to the full documentary on You Tube here; get the documentary's stories in segments here. The stories are simply heart breaking.
  • K.G. Schneider responded to a comment on her blog by conservative (by her own identification) Ellie Dworak. Worth a look if just to see how some people respond to the issue. If I was showing this to students, I would point them to how both sides are talking to each other. Ms. Dworak apparently did not like being taken to task on a blog. All I will say if you write it publicly, and she did by commenting on Ms. Schneider's blog, then be ready to be questioned and engaged. I think Ms. Schneider gave a pretty good reply to an issue many bloggers with an audience deal with, in addition to her thoughts on the health care reform debate.
  • Do you need help understanding the health care reform debate? So do I very often. Ze Frank, a comedian, helps to put it in perspective, with some humor in the process. The Free Government Information Blog gives us a link in "Ze Frank Tries to Understand Healthcare." Ze Frank pokes fun at a lot of the rumors and myths going around about health care reform. Overall, he puts things in pretty good perspective. He mentions FactCheck.org in the video, a site I have linked to before but I will do so again because it is an excellent resource to get perspective on issues and, well, check the facts people and so-called experts throw around, often hoping no one is really paying attention. In essence, use FactCheck.org and show others that you are indeed paying attention. 

In case the random reader that finds this blog is interested, you can find my previous posts on this topic here, here, and here.

Update Note (Same day): Oops, almost forgot to include this. This is an article on "How to Read Articles About Health and Health Care" by Dr. Alicia White (link leads to PDF).  This is an excellent piece to use in teaching information literacy. Also, it is very good for just reminding people not to panic when they see some headline about some medical "breakthrough" that is often not a big deal, if at all. The article comes from the British National Health Service (NHS) Behind the Headlines webpage. Actually, this NHS site is another very good source of health information and health literacy. With a hat tip to Resource Shelf
 

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These are some items I have come across on the topic of sex education in the U.S., specifically the failure of it. I have a friend who works as a wellness counselor, and these are things I would share with her. I figure they are things a lot more people should read as well.

  • The Guttmacher Institute has a report which finds that "the progress made in the 1990s and early 2000s in improving teen contraceptive use and reducing teen pregnancy and childbearing stalled, and may even have reversed among certain groups of teens" The report is entitled “Changing Behavior Risk for Pregnancy Among High School Students in the United States, 1991–2007,” Previous studies, which are linked in the press release, have found that contraceptive use has been found to be a key factor in reducing teen pregnancies in the 1990s. What changed? The new federal policies favoring abstinence only education under G.W. Bush. A hat tip to Docuticker
  • Do you need to know what your teen needs to know about sex? Here are "6 Things Your Teen Needs to Know about Sex" via Health.com. This is the kind of thing we should be printing out or forwarding the link to every parent and teen in the nation. Dispel the myths and get the facts. 
  • The Guardian has an excellent summary of how the Bush Administration's policy of abstinence-only failed miserably and lead to a new rise in teen pregnancies and STDs for young people. The article features some very good links to studies and sources of information as well. It is sad that it takes a British news source to point out what people in the U.S. should be discussing. Then again, I often find as a reader and librarian that the best coverage of issues in the U.S. comes from outside the United States. And this kind of ignorant, myopic, religiously influenced policies do continue after G.W. is gone. For instance, Planned Parenthood getting its funding cut so some religious fundie influenced abstinence-only peddler can get more funding. That's the way to go: keep teens ignorant, and while at it, deprive women of basic health services (yes, Planned Parenthood does a lot more than just sex education and reproductive services. For many women, PP is their health provider, especially for poor and disadvantaged women).
  • Here is another study, this one from the Journal of Adolescent Health, looking at "Trends in Sexual Experience, Contraceptive Use, and Teenage Childbearing, 1992-2002." The findings are not as black and white: there has been some reduction in teen pregnancies, but also increases in contraceptive use and decreases in early sexual experience. "However, researchers, advocates, and policy makers disagree about whether the decline in teen birth rates is because of increases in abstinence or to increases in contraceptive use or more effective method use among sexually active teens." A hat tip to Docuticker.
  • Marie Cocco, on AlterNet, describes "Unprotected Sex: Abstinence Education's Main Accomplishment." The article does look at the Guttmacher Institute report I link above. From the article, I think this says quite a bit and makes for quite the indictment: "But now we have sad and clear evidence that political foolishness among adults is leading to foolish and harmful behavior among kids. Who could reasonably want more teen pregnancies, more abortions among teenagers, more unmarried mothers, more babies born with greater health risks and with the sorely limited economic prospects that burden the children of young, single mothers? No one would dare promote such a policy. Yet these are the results of our recent national sex-education policy, which was based on religious faith, not science, and put political gamesmanship ahead of public health."
  • Of course, you can find a fine example of how to keep your kids ignorant in my own current backyard of Texas, where it turns out Haitians know more about STD transmission and how to prevent it than Texans. Haitians for cripes sake. From the TFN Insider.
  • I am tossing this one as a bonus. This is a site I just discovered called Whyzz. If your kid is asking tough questions, type it in here, and get a helpful answer. I typed in "where do babies come from?" to try it out. It gave me a couple of choices, including a pretty nice answer on how to give an answer to a young kid. This is more for dealing with children, but keep in mind, you have to start educating early. The response I got was well-written and thoughtful. The site gets answers from users as well as experts, and often, answers have sources from some very reputable sources. For instance, the answer I read drew from information by SIECUS
  • And apparently teens are not the only ones needing some education. "Ten percent of Americans with AIDS are over 50" according to this article. Some seniors took matters into their own hands and made a video to educate their peers. Get the story with links and the video here. Via YesButNoButYes. Figure after all this, I had to toss in a bit of humor, but the issue of seniors and sex is a serious one. And it also shows that sex education needs to go on at all ages.

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While the politicians in Congress are more worried about appeasing the insurance companies than actually doing something decent and humane for the people who need health care now, the evidence keeps coming in of why it is we need a good, universal health care system that will take care of all citizens. These are things that I think more people should be reading. Also, if I had a student researching the topic, this would links I would like him or her to read.

  • I saw this from Families USA. It is a short report entitled "The Clock is Ticking: More Americans Losing Health Coverage" (link to PDF) that details how people are losing health care coverage on a daily basis. You can look at your own state and see how they are doing in terms of losses. By the way, Texas, where I reside now, is not doing very well. This definitely worth a look.(via Docuticker). 
  • The AFL-CIO reports on a survey they ran with Working America. The Health Care Survey (link to the survey on here; press release here). This survey, which includes personal stories, is a very good dataset on the topic. From the press release, "Over half of the 23,460 people who responded online to a health care survey sponsored by the AFL-CIO and Working America say they cannot get the health care they need at a price they can afford, and the problem is even more acute among people who buy their own insurance, Hispanics and young adults." And that is just for starters. (via Docuticker). In the meantime, the politicians in Congress are more worried about appeasing the insurance companies than actually doing something decent and humane for the people who need health care now. 
  • The Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, has a Middle Class Task Force. This task force has put out a statement on "Why Middle Class Americans Need Health Care Reform" (note PDF link; found via Docuticker). This is definitely a good question to answer. This country has a very screwed hierarchy. The rich can obviously pay any doctor and get the best care since they can pay for it. The poor can go to the emergency room at any time, since the hospitals can't turn them away; the hospitals just pass the cost on to the middle class workers with insurance, which is a reason why premiums for people like me, who are gainfully employed, keep going up. It has been argued that it is a hidden health tax for middle class workers when they have to pay increased premiums because insurance companies and hospitals have to "eat the cost" of the poor and unemployed. Granted, with a universal system, someone still has to pay, but the cost would likely go around and certainly be a lot more equitable. 
  • I just saw that Congressional Budget Office, according to ABC News, stated that there are no cost savings in the Democrats' health plans. Now, before the other side gets too excited, keep in mind that you do have to look at the costs, and it is likely that some costs will go up no matter whose plan is being applied. Actually, the CBO has a few other reports related to health and health care that may be worth looking at before people get too excited. 
  • And while talking about costs, you can get a look at cost implications of three health reform scenarios (link to press release; the report page is here). The report is presented by the Commonwealth Fund (via Docuticker). 
  • Oh, the famous number of 45 million uninsured? FactCheck takes a look at it in context

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