Blogger: 'Health Care Reform Gangnam Style'

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Has any media phenomenon ever gone as global as Psy's Gangnam Style rap video? (Besides the bible, I mean.) It was at an astronomical 878,054,797 views on YouTube when last I looked, leaving Michael Jackson's "Thriller" far, far back in the ancient dust.

So of course I had to read a post called Health Care Reform Gangnam Style when I saw it on The Health Care Blog (thanks to Its very fun concept: A start-up called Rap Genius crowdsources translations of rap lyrics that most of us are not gangsterish enough to understand. But what we really need, blogger Lisa Suennen writes, is translations of impenetrable "healthcare speak:"

You may think Nelly’s lyrics are opaque, but have you ever seen an Explanation of Benefits from your insurance company? Makes the “30 down at the bottom, 30 more at the top” phrasing downright obvious compared to trying to make sense of what was billed vs. allowed vs. paid vs. subject to the deductible vs. amount left for the patient to pay.

It may be cool to understand rap lyrics, particularly if you are a 45 year old white dude with two kids, a golden retriever and a Honda Accord, but lets keep it real, yo (defined as: be realistic): we are living in a healthcare world that is rapidly turning into a retail market out of the emerging ashes of what was previously the domain solely of the healthcare wonkery. More than ever it is becoming downright essential for actual humans to understand the “rap” (crap?) that the healthcare world turns out.

Why now, as they say in the psychology business? Because tens of millions of Americans are within 18 months of having to select their own insurance plans from Health Insurance Exchanges without an human resources representative helping them; note that many consumers are already spending a huge amount of their own cash on medical expenses without any idea what they are actually spending it on or getting for it. As the healthcare world rapidly transmogrifies from the old-fashioned Marcus Welby version to a world of ACOs, Medical Homes, IDNs, etc. under the PPACA (yeah, I know…I think I just got a healthcare BINGO!), consumers are going to need not just transparency of costs, but transparency of language. I have spent nearly 25 years in the healthcare field and I am often just as confused reading some of this stuff as anybody else. I can only imagine what my grandmother would think of it all.

Read the full post here, and just think: If you're the kind of person who understands what an ACO is, your chance to give back to the world may be on its way...

This program aired on December 3, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.