Another day in health-care hell (5×8 – 11/16/10)

The joys of open enrollment, staying happy by staying focused, the deer with the velvet antlers, pitch man under fire, and the lawsuit of the day.


1) OPEN SEASON

You can tell we’re in the season of health care hell for people who have work-based health care plans. MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki profiled the new rules on flex plans, those accounts that let you stash some tax-free money away to pay for out-of-pocket expenses. The biggest change is you soon won’t be able to put as much away as you once were able to. The U.S. needs the tax money, apparently. But Stawicki’s story, perhaps unwittingly, provided another aspect of the problem with health care being linked to one’s job. One of the people featured in her story wouldn’t give her last name because she was afraid she’d lose her job if her boss found out she was talking about how the new rules will affect her.

It’s “open-enrollment” season. Over at WCCO, Jason DeRusha found out that the vast majority of people don’t pay much attention to their health care options:

All of this, of course, is a bureaucracy, one the government uses to change your behavior. The Star Tribune this morning, for example, reports that Minnesota is trying to discourage mothers-to-be not to induce labor, by making the pain of paperwork more unbearable than waiting a bit more longer.

The model for the national health care law is Massachusetts, which passed a plan four years ago. PBS Newshour last evening took a look at how it’s turned out. What it hasn’t done is controlled spiraling health care costs. “It wasn’t supposed to,” its architect said.

What’s happening with your health insurance?

2) HAPPY TALK

Harvard scientists say people whose minds wander — even to pleasant things — aren’t as happy as people who stay focused on a task.

More science: A new study found that in classrooms where boys and girls line up separately — and even in settings where teachers say things like, “Good morning boys and girls” — children express more stereotypes about gender and even discriminate when deciding who to play with.

3) THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A MAN IN VELVET, EVEN IF IT’S A DEER

A Hutchinson man shot a buck earlier this month. That’s not much of a big deal. This one had entirely velvet antlers. That’s a big deal. It’s a rare condition caused by a lack of testosterone, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Oh, deer: Where do you have the biggest chance of hitting a deer with your car? Goodhue County.

4) PITCH MAN UNDER FIRE

Fargo police selected the North Dakota State University football coach to be the voice behind public service announcements in a traffic safety campaign. They said they didn’t know he’s been cited by police 18 times since 2003, including ten speeding tickets.

5) LAWSUIT OF THE DAY

A man in New York is suing his golf partner for not yelling “fore” when he hit an errant shot. Things we don’t understand: (a) Why a golfer isn’t watching his partner’s shot and would need to hear “fore” and (b) Why a golfer isn’t standing behind the golfer’s line to the green? Golfers? Isn’t “fore” usually yelled for the benefit of golfers who are playing other holes? The New York Supreme Court is hearing the case today.

Bonus: On the field with the oldest marching band. (NPR)

TODAY’S QUESTION

Two Democratic pollsters suggested on Sunday that President Obama could serve the country best by forgoing a run at re-election. Should President Obama limit himself to a single term?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A look at President Obama’s efforts to give the economy a boost.

Second hour: In his new book, the best-selling author of “the Great Santini” and “Prince of Tides” pays homage to the literature that transformed his life.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Experts answer questions about open enrollment for Medicare and all its complicated programs.

Second hour: An NPR “Intelligence Squared” debate on the question: “Is Afghanistan a Lost Cause?” Debaters are Peter Bergen, Max Boot, Matthew Hoh and Nir Rosen.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Rethinking nursing.

Second hour: Ted Koppel talks about what he calls “the death of real news.”

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - An effort to convince chefs at resorts in the Brainerd Lakes area to use more locally-grown produce has had mixed success. The project attempted to streamline the ordering of produce through a national website, Local Dirt. MPR’s Nancy Lebens will talk to farmers and chefs.

  • vjacobsen

    OK, so here’s the thing about trying to reduce inductions:

    First of all, private insurers have a history of trying to reduce elective deliveries. In the 90s, they had policies to reduce cesareans. Now, why those went away is complicated, but you can see exactly when those restrictions went away, as there’s a marked increase in Cesareans in the US. So maybe the upset here is just because it’s the cool thing to cry government invasion, but the person who holds the purse strings should be able to discourage practices that aren’t beneficial and tend to result is worse outcomes, which in turn costs more.

    What I’ve found over the years is that few women have had the full sets of pros and cons explained. First of all, there ‘s no accurate way to say for certain what baby’s gestational age is. Due dates are estimations and can be off a week or 2 either way. What the MoD, the CDC, and others have found is that with these elective early inductions, when gestational age was off, you end up with a baby who borders on being premature, and might have issues breathing, eating, maintaining body temp, and might need extra days in the hospital. The last couple of years have seen hospitals place restrictions on inductions before 39 weeks, but always with the seemingly great exception for the health of mom or baby. Now, if mom’s health or baby’s health really is at risk, then that’s a very needed induction. But there are ways around those restrictions, and so I can understand the desire to create another way to discourage those early elective inductions.

    The linked Strib article is a little frustrating, and I wish those statements from moms who want to have an early induction for convenience were balanced by a care provider statement why it’s not a good idea. I mean, great job bringing it to light, but a woman without any other source of information will walk away thinking that it’s OK simply because lots of other women want to do it.

  • JackU

    #5 – As a native of NY I hope the court does the right thing and throws out the case. I have to agree with the comments on the linked story. I haven’t played much golf in the last few years, too expensive and the courses are always too crowded. But I used to play more often before that. I usually played by myself and would end up grouping with other players. We often would scatter up a hole, because the balls had done that. (I never claimed to be a good golfer.) But you always had to be aware of the other players. You always watch as they hit to make sure it wasn’t coming at you and also where it was going. When the balls were grouped we would all wait behind the person as they played their shot.