There is a simple reason health care in the United States costs more than it does anywhere else: The prices are higher.
That may sound obvious. But it is, in fact, key to understanding one of the most pressing problems facing our economy. In 2009, Americans spent $7,960 per person on health care. Our neighbors in Canada spent $4,808. The Germans spent $4,218. The French, $3,978. If we had the per-person costs of any of those countries, America’s deficits would vanish. Workers would have much more money in their pockets. Our economy would grow more quickly, as our exports would be more competitive.
There are many possible explanations for why Americans pay so much more. It could be that we’re sicker. Or that we go to the doctor more frequently. But health researchers have largely discarded these theories. As Gerard Anderson, Uwe Reinhardt, Peter Hussey and Varduhi Petrosyan put it in the title of their influential 2003 study on international health-care costs, “it’s the prices, stupid.”
As it’s difficult to get good data on prices, that paper blamed prices largely by eliminating the other possible culprits. They authors considered, for instance, the idea that Americans were simply using more health-care services, but on close inspection, found that Americans don’t see the doctor more often or stay longer in the hospital than residents of other countries. Quite the opposite, actually. We spend less time in the hospital than Germans and see the doctor less often than the Canadians.
“The United States spends more on health care than any of the other OECD countries spend, without providing more services than the other countries do,” they concluded. “This suggests that the difference in spending is mostly attributable to higher prices of goods and services.”
On Friday, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — released more direct evidence. It surveyed its members on the prices paid for 23 medical services and products in different countries, asking after everything from a routine doctor’s visit to a dose of Lipitor to coronary bypass surgery. And in 22 of 23 cases, Americans are paying higher prices than residents of other developed countries. Usually, we’re paying quite a bit more. The exception is cataract surgery, which appears to be costlier in Switzerland, though cheaper everywhere else.
Prices don’t explain all of the difference between America and other countries. But they do explain a big chunk of it. The question, of course, is why Americans pay such high prices — and why we haven’t done anything about it.
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Some experts believe that 25% of drivers who die in auto accidents cause them subconsciously. ‘Autocides’ are suicides disguised as automobile accidents. – Provided by RandomHistory.com
A Visual History of Video Games.
Insane Clown Posse launches Facebook for Juggalos.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson responds to the question “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?”
Money: “When I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up — many people feel small, ‘cause they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.”
Music: “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra.
Stem Cell Find Raises Fertility Hope
Fertility experts have long believed that women are born with all the eggs they will ever have; however, new findings suggest otherwise. From the ovaries of adult women, researchers have isolated stem cells that are able to spontaneously produce new eggs. They have yet to show that these eggs are capable of producing offspring when fertilized, but if this is proved to be the case, these stem cells could revolutionize the treatment of infertility. More …
There was this city girl who was out driving and found herself in a rural area. She noted a farm animal standing next to a farmer and stopped the car to ask the farmer a question.
“Sir,” she inquired. “Why doesn’t this cow have any horns”?
The farmer cocked his head for a moment, then began in a patient tone.
“Well, ma’am, cattle can do a powerful lot of damage with horns. Sometimes, we keep ‘em trimmed down with a hacksaw. Other times, we can fix up the young ‘uns by puttin’ a couple drops of acid where their horns would grow in and that stops ‘em cold.”
“Still, there are some breeds of cattle that never grow horns. But, the reason this cow don’t have no horns, ma’am, is ’cause it’s a horse.”
Iran held nuclear test in N. Korea
Germany’s Die Welt newspaper reported Sunday that Iran held at least one nuclear weapons test in North Korea in 2010.
The paper’s report is based on “Western intelligence agencies sources,” and says that the test, in fact, refutes US intelligence assessments suggesting there is no “hard evidence” that Iran is building nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has recently declared that its nuclear negotiations with Iran have failed.
The statement followed Tehran’s decision the bar IAEA inspectors from what is believed to be key military sites in the Islamic Republic. Iran vehemently claims that its nuclear program is meant to serve civil, peaceful purposes only.
George Westinghouse Patents the Automatic Air Brake (This Day in 1872)
Prior to the advent of trucking in the early 1900s, rail was the only efficient way to transport goods over land. However, before the 1870s, there was no easy way to quickly stop the extremely heavy freight trains. Brakemen scrambled over the tops of moving cars to activate hand brakes on each one. The system was unreliable, resulting in frequent derailments, and many brakemen were killed or maimed after falling from trains. The air brake solved all of those problems. How did it work? More…
Gold Coins: The Mystery of the Double Eagle
How did a Philadelphia family get hold of $40 million in gold coins, and why has the Secret Service been chasing them for 70 years?
The most valuable coin in the world sits in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in lower Manhattan. It’s Exhibit 18E, secured in a bulletproof glass case with an alarm system and an armed guard nearby. The 1933 Double Eagle, considered one of the rarest and most beautiful coins in America, has a face value of $20—and a market value of $7.6 million. It was among the last batch of gold coins ever minted by the U.S. government. The coins were never issued; most of the nearly 500,000 cast were melted down to bullion in 1937.
Most, but not all. Some of the coins slipped out of the Philadelphia Mint before then. No one knows for sure exactly how they got out or even how many got out. The U.S. Secret Service, responsible for protecting the nation’s currency, has been pursuing them for nearly 70 years, through 13 Administrations and 12 different directors. The investigation has spanned three continents and involved some of the most famous coin collectors in the world, a confidential informant, a playboy king, and a sting operation at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. It has inspired two novels, two nonfiction books, and a television documentary. And much of it has centered around a coin dealer, dead since 1990, whose shop is still open in South Philadelphia, run by his 82-year-old daughter.
“The 1933 Double Eagle is one of the most intriguing coins of all time,” says Jay Brahin, an investment adviser who has been collecting coins since he was a kid in Philadelphia. “It’s a freak. The coins shouldn’t have been minted, but they were. They weren’t meant to circulate, but some did. And why has the government pursued them so arduously? That’s one of the mysteries.”
The story begins just after the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt on Mar. 4, 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. Thousands of banks had already gone under as people panicked and withdrew their gold and other deposits. As the gold supply—much of it kept at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York—dwindled, the country faced possible insolvency. On Apr. 5, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102, which prohibited the hoarding of gold and required citizens to exchange their gold coins for paper currency.
It was Roosevelt’s distant cousin, Theodore, who had commissioned the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to design a high-relief $20 gold coin in the early 1900s. Teddy Roosevelt wanted an American coin that matched the beauty of the ancient Greek ones, and Saint-Gaudens completed the work just before his death from cancer in 1907. On one side is an image of Liberty, a figure reminiscent of a Greek goddess, hair flowing, olive branch in her left hand, torch in her right. On the other is an eagle in midflight, the sun rising behind it.
The stunning black and white pictures of workers as young as THREE that helped change labour laws
Fingertips sliced off as they gutted sardines, throats itchy with coughs from mine shafts or backs aching from hunching over cotton bushes in the Tennessee sun – these were the treacherous lives of the child labourers as young as three.Sepia-tinged photographs taken by teacher-turned-photojournalist Lewis Wickes Hine between 1908 and 1924 capture their struggles, from breaking bones in unsafe conditions to long hours and poor pay.Hine photographed the children for the National Child Labor Committee – a lobbying organisation – and is often credited with creating a hard-hitting body of work that ultimately helped bring about stricter labour laws, giving youngsters their childhoods back.
Welcome to Umbrella Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at this fashion accessory in use over the last hundred or so years. Today’s photograph was taken in 1912, and was used as a sign at a movie theater to remind folks to not forget things at the theater.
The future of plant science
ScienceDaily (Mar. 2, 2012) — Plant science is key to addressing the major challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century, according to Carnegie’s David Ehrhardt and Wolf Frommer. In a Perspective published in The Plant Cell, the two researchers argue that the development of new technology is key to transforming plant biology in order to meet human needs.
Plants serve as the conduit of energy into the biosphere, provide food and materials used by humans, and they shape our environment. According to Ehrhardt and Frommer, the three major challenges facing humanity in our time are food, energy, and environmental degradation. All three are plant related.
All of our food is produced by plants, either directly or indirectly via animals that eat them. Plants are a source of energy production. And they are intimately involved in climate change and a major factor in a variety of environmental concerns, including agricultural expansion and its impact on habitat destruction and waterway pollution.
Focusing on drug markets rather than users means less crime
POLICE watched seven people sell drugs in Marshall Courts and Seven Oaks, two districts in south-eastern Newport News, in Virginia. They built strong cases against them. They shared that information with prosecutors. But then the police did something unusual: they sent the seven letters inviting them to police headquarters for a talk, promising that if they came they would not be arrested. Three came, and when they did they met not only police and prosecutors, but also family members, people from their communities, pastors from local churches and representatives from social-service agencies. Their neighbours and relatives told them that dealing drugs was hurting their families and communities. The police showed them the information they had gathered, and they offered the seven a choice: deal again, and we will prosecute you. Stop, and these people will help you turn your lives around.
This approach is known as drug-market intervention (DMI). It was first used in High Point, North Carolina, in 2004 and since then has been tried in more than 30 cities and counties. It is the brainchild of David Kennedy, a criminologist at John Jay College in New York, who thinks that “the most troubled communities can survive the public-health and family issues that come with even the highest levels of addiction. They can’t survive the community impact that comes with overt drug markets”—by which he means markets that draw outsiders to the neighbourhood. Once these are entrenched, a range of problems follow: not just drug use and sales, but open prostitution, muggings, robberies, declining property values, and the loss of businesses and safe public spaces.
Reckless: The Inside Story of How the Banks Beat Washington (Again)
One year ago, the largest financial institutions on Wall Street were desperate to show off their strength by paying out, or raising, dividends for the first time since the Great Recession. After conducting a secretive test of the banks’ health, the Federal Reserve granted most of their requests in March 2011 — over loud objections from economic luminaries in Washington and across the country. Now, for the first time, we tell the story of why the Federal Reserve caved, and how Wall Street still owns the place.
In early November 2010, as the Federal Reserve began to weigh whether the nation’s biggest financial firms were healthy enough to return money to their shareholders, a top regulator bluntly warned: Don’t let them.
“We remain concerned over their ability to withstand stress in an uncertain economic environment,” wrote Sheila Bair, the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., in a previously unreported letter obtained by ProPublica.
The letter came as the Fed was launching a “stress test” to decide whether the biggest U.S. financial firms could pay out dividends and buy back their shares instead of putting aside that money as capital. It was one of the central bank’s most critical oversight decisions in the wake of the financial crisis.
“We strongly encourage” that the Fed “delay any dividends or compensation increases until they can show” that their earnings are strong and their assets sound, she wrote. Given the continued uncertainty in the markets, “we do not believe it is the right time to allow transactions that will weaken their capital and liquidity positions.”
Four months later, the Federal Reserve rejected Bair’s appeal.
In March 2011, the Federal Reserve green-lighted most of the top 19 financial institutions to deliver tens of billions of dollars to shareholders, including many of their own top executives. The 19 paid out $33 billion in the first nine months of 2011 in dividends and stock buy-backs.
That $33 billion is money that the banks don’t have to cushion themselves — and the broader financial system — should the euro crisis cause a new recession, tensions with Iran flare into war and disrupt the oil supply, or another crisis emerge.
TECHNOLOGY advances not only through new inventions, but also by the imaginative application of old ones. And one of the most ancient forms of scientific investigation, the post-mortem autopsy, may be ripe for just such a technological upgrade. According to a recent paper in the Lancet, published by Ian Roberts of the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford, it may soon be time to put away the scalpel and retractor clamp, and replace them with the body scanner.
The study of death is never a cheerful topic, but it has gone through a particularly gloomy patch in the past few decades. A recent tally by America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention showed that in 2007 only 8.5% of deaths in America were investigated by autopsy. In 1972 the figure was 19.3%. Britain’s coroners are more active, but perhaps not more accurate. In Britain, 22% of deaths lead to an autopsy. According to a government review, however, one in four is of miserable quality. The upshot in both cases is not just that the causes of individual deaths may be misascribed. More seriously, data about the processes of disease are lost, and those diseases are thus not as well understood as they might have been. Relatives of the deceased, meanwhile, often do not like the idea of bodies being cut up at the behest of coroners. Britain’s health department therefore asked Dr Roberts to study whether scanning the dead in a way that is routine for the living would help. His conclusion? It would.
Weather predictions for possible tornadoes from a new storm system today threaten the Midwest and South, and have recent victims nervous about what the day might hold. The first powerful storm system tore through parts of the Midwest and South earlier this week, killing 13 people from Kansas to Kentucky, leaving pockets of devastation across several states and marking the acceleration of another deadly (and early) tornado season. Tornadoes and powerful winds tore off roofs, leveled homes and businesses, tossed mobile homes, downed power lines and injured more than 150 people. The damage was most significant in Harrisburg, a small town in southern Illinois where blocks of houses and businesses were reduced to rubble. — Paula Nelson(25 photos total)