Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Some articles worth reading

Here's a few articles that are worth your time:

  • I'm not generally a policy wonk, but you really, really, really should spend some time with Steven Brill's magnificent cover story in Time about healthcare costs in the United States: Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us
    Unless you are protected by Medicare, the health care market is not a market at all. It’s a crapshoot. People fare differently according to circumstances they can neither control nor predict. They may have no insurance. They may have insurance, but their employer chooses their insurance plan and it may have a payout limit or not cover a drug or treatment they need. They may or may not be old enough to be on Medicare or, given the different standards of the 50 states, be poor enough to be on Medicaid. If they’re not protected by Medicare or they’re protected only partly by private insurance with high co-pays, they have little visibility into pricing, let alone control of it. They have little choice of hospitals or the services they are billed for, even if they somehow know the prices before they get billed for the services. They have no idea what their bills mean, and those who maintain the chargemasters couldn’t explain them if they wanted to. How much of the bills they end up paying may depend on the generosity of the hospital or on whether they happen to get the help of a billing advocate. They have no choice of the drugs that they have to buy or the lab tests or CT scans that they have to get, and they would not know what to do if they did have a choice. They are powerless buyers in a seller’s market where the only sure thing is the profit of the sellers.
  • Here's a fascinating story from Runner's World that appears to be about sport, but is really about Alaska: The Last Man Up
    Think about that for a moment: 1.5 miles up. Roughly 1.6 miles down. Hundreds of runners within view of thousands of fans, and a man simply vanished. How the hell is that even possible?
  • This intriguing story from Grantland discusses the enormous problem of match-fixing in soccer: Soccer's New Match-Fixing Scandal
    I'm generally in favor of making sports gambling legal, for reasons that have nothing to do with sports. But it's important to recognize that what's enabled soccer's match-fixing problem is not the unregulated shadiness of illegal gambling but the fact that the sheer volume of betting encouraged by legal gambling opens up opportunities to exploit the systems devised to handle it.

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