KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Longer Reads: How To Choose A Hospital; Empowered Patients Cost More; The ‘War On Sleep’

Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The Atlantic: Finding The Right Hospital
Hospital marketing has reached a frenzy. It is nearly impossible to drive around metropolitan areas in the U.S. without being barraged by billboards trumpeting hospitals' cutting-edge technology, luxurious facilities, or the lives of patients they have saved. In many markets, more than one hospital claims a "Top 100," "Top 10," or even "#1" rating for the same type of service. Especially while recalling a day when such advertising would have seemed sordid, it's easy to feel bewildered. ... We entrust our lives to the nurses, physicians, and other health professionals who populate them. And the services they provide cost a great deal of money -- last year one-third of all healthcare expenditures, or nearly $900 billion. For those who have a choice, how should we determine which hospital is right for us? (Richard Gunderman, 5/29). 

Time: Patients Who Are More Involved In Medical Decisions Pay More
We’re supposed to be more proactive about our health, and engage in making decisions that can impact our care. But what if that decision-sharing just adds to our medical bills? A team of researchers from the University of Chicago School of Medicine were surprised to discover just that — patients who were more involved in their medical care decisions  spent 5% more time in the hospital and tallied up hospital costs that were $865 on average more than what less involved patients spent (Alexandra Sifferlin, 5/29).

The New Yorker: The Abortion Issue Returns
The [Supreme] Court may agree to hear one or more abortion cases in its next term. For the most part, these cases have their roots in the Republican landslides in the 2010 midterm elections. At the time, those electoral victories were largely portrayed as being based on economics; the Tea Party was often described as almost libertarian in orientation. But soon after new state legislators took office it became clear that social issues, and especially abortion, were among their highest priorities. In state after state, those Tea Party lawmakers passed new restrictions on abortion, and as the restrictions have taken effect challenges to them have started to work their way through the courts (Jeffrey Toobin, 5/28).

Forbes: Unexpected Health Insurance Rate Shock--California Obamacare Insurance Exchange Announces Premium Rates
Setting aside the never-ending nonsense peddled by the opponents of healthcare reform, everyone from the Congressional Budget Office to numerous private actuaries have warned that premium shock could be expected to set in once the public began to see the reality of what Obamacare would mean to their pocketbooks. And yet, the only real jolt to the system being felt by these public and private prognosticators today is utter amazement over just how reasonable the California prices have turned out to be (Rick Unger, 5/24).

Slate: The War on Sleep
All over the world, scientists are experimenting on soldiers to keep them awake beyond the limits of normal endurance. Researchers are engineering, and militaries are deploying, chemically enhanced troops. Of all the superpowers we’ve imagined, the one that has turned out to be most attainable—so attainable we’re already using it—is the ability to go without sleep. Much of this research, which focuses on a drug called modafinil, is openly sponsored and supervised by military agencies. The United States leads the pack (William Saletan, 5/29).

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