Daily Rounds: Kaiser Permanente Prices; Aging Reframed; MassHealth 'Duals'; Higher H1N1 Flu Deaths

Could Kaiser Permanente's low cost health care be even cheaper? (NPR) - "The organization is no longer the bargain it used to be, he says, possibly because of what economists call "shadow pricing." "If your competitor takes $4 to make a banana and it only takes you $2 to make a banana, you price your banana at $3.95 and you pocket the rest," Smith says. It's difficult to discern just how Kaiser fares against other companies since negotiations between health plans and employers are largely confidential. Kaiser says its costs increase by about 5 percent each year. But some of Kaiser's biggest customers say their premiums have jumped much higher, in some cases 20 percent."

Reframing views of aging (The New York Times) - "The signal public health achievement of the 20th century was the increase of the human life span. Now, as that achievement helps raise the proportion of the aged around the world, what once seemed an unalloyed blessing is too often regarded as a burden — a financial burden, a health care burden, even a social burden. 'It’s nuts,' said Dr. Linda P. Fried, an epidemiologist and geriatrician who is dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. 'To assume defeat from what every one of us as individuals wants suggests we’re not asking the right questions.'"

Transforming health care outcomes for vulnerable residents (Dr. Judyann Bigby in the Fall River Herald News) "Among those individuals is Amy, a 50-year-old MassHealth and Medicare member who suffers from long-standing multiple sclerosis, with complete paralysis in both legs and partial paralysis in her arms....Amy’s needs for health care are significant. But perhaps even greater is her need for a comprehensive, integrated health care plan that really addresses her unique circumstances, and a team of professionals well versed in caring for people with individuals working together for her."

Pandemic H1N1 flu killed far more than reported (Healthday) - "The pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009 may have killed more than 500,000 people around the world, 15 times more than reported, a new study suggests. During the pandemic, 18,500 laboratory-confirmed deaths were reported to the World Health Organization from April 2009 through August 2010, but as many as 575,400 may have actually died, an international group of scientists now says. "This is a better approximation of the number of deaths that occurred," said researcher Dr. Marc-Alain Widdowson from the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

This program aired on June 26, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


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