Category Archive: Public Health & Policy

Medical bankruptcies happen less frequently than you think

Elizabeth Warren describes medical bills as “the leading cause of personal bankruptcy” in the United States. She bases that opinion in part on her own research, in which she and her collaborators surveyed people who had experienced personal bankruptcy, asked them whether they’d experienced health-related financial distress, and concluded that 60 percent of all bankruptcies in the U.S. […]

5 fears physicians face today

Like prep sports or prime-time television, medical meetings have seasons. In the spring and fall, my calendar fills with invitations to speak. I try to get to the venue a few hours before I’m scheduled to speak, so I can “take the pulse” of fellow doctors, asking them about their practices, patients and the future of […]

Is there parity in mental health or are we still dealing with a paucity?

With the recent 10-year anniversary of the Mental Health Parity Act being signed into law, comes the reminder that we still have so much work to be done. Unfortunately, blatant discrimination in health insurance coverage for mental health and substance abuse has continued despite this legislation. The Parity Act required that dollar limits on mental […]

How health insurance contributes to our failing system

An excerpt from Prescription for Bankruptcy: A doctor’s perspective on America’s failing health care system and how we can fix it. Many years ago, while I was involved in developing the pre-hospital emergency medical care system in Massachusetts, I went with a group to meet with the then-president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, John […]

Doctors as the gatekeepers of marijuana is a race to the bottom

This year Oklahoma voters made a clear choice to legalize medical marijuana, joining thirty other states that permit cannabis for medicinal use. Unsurprisingly, immediately in the vote’s aftermath, patients began asking me to “prescribe” medical marijuana licenses, as the new law stipulates users must have as a precondition for legal purchase. The new law does not, however, specify […]

Medicine is a word with 3 meanings

Everybody is a stakeholder these days in what we broadly call medicine, or health care. But there is little agreement on what medicine is and what the priorities of the health care “industry” should be. I propose this breakdown of medicine into three separate phenomena. 1. Micromedicine 2. Macromedicine 3. Metamedicine Let me explain: Micromedicine: […]

Considering the recent setbacks of evidence-based medicine

For my students in 2018, it’s difficult to imagine an era when there was no such thing as evidence-based medicine (EBM). When I started medical school in 1997, though, the term had only been in use for six years, having been introduced by Dr. Gordon Guyatt at McMaster University (though EBM’s intellectual origins can be traced […]

Considering the recent setbacks of evidence-based medicine

For my students in 2018, it’s difficult to imagine an era when there was no such thing as evidence-based medicine (EBM). When I started medical school in 1997, though, the term had only been in use for six years, having been introduced by Dr. Gordon Guyatt at McMaster University (though EBM’s intellectual origins can be traced […]

The way U.S. drug makers price their products is legal, but it’s not moral

While walking through the duty-free at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, I happened upon the price tag of an imported French purse. Looking around, I wondered how many travelers could afford a $2,000 handbag.At the gate, I found a seat and logged on to the internet, where I happened upon a story about the […]

The nursing shortage: then and now

I remember when I started nursing school about a decade ago, that there was a near militant attitude describing the nursing shortage. School administrators, politicians, and journalists hopped on this easy bandwagon and talking point. Research and polls of dubious quality rode the tidal wave of popular opinion. Unsurprisingly, their genesis in an echo chamber […]

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