Alchemical Thoughts

A fourth link dump of items on health care reform

Posted on: October 13, 2009

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 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 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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2 Responses to "A fourth link dump of items on health care reform"

Hi. I caught your post on the Vox page, and wanted to say you are totally correct. My uncle was an attorney for the lobby group behind the infamous Harry and Louise commercials so I am familar with what goes on. Yes the insurance companies are definitely manipulating everything just like they did back then.
Thank you for the effort and time you put into your post and links.

Hey BluKat, thank you for stopping by. I remember those Harry and Louise commercials. I wonder how many people remember them these days. Best, and keep on blogging.

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