KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Longer Looks: A Sugar Cube Pyramid; The Suicide Checklist

Each week KHN finds interesting reads from around the web.

New York magazine: Obamacare Is Saving Thousands of Lives. And Americans Will Always Hate It.
Dean Angstadt, a 57-year-old, self-employed logger, said that the Affordable Care Act saved his life. ... Kathy Bentozi, a 58-year-old Pennsylvanian, is also thankful for Obamacare.  ... Joshua Haymore, a 27-year-old Coloradan, could not get a specialist to see him for weeks last year ... Now that he has Medicaid, his prescriptions cost $3 and his health has improved significantly. Those are just three of thousands of good-news stories coming from the insurance expansion in the Affordable Care Act. ... But there is scant evidence that Americans have started to take notice, or care (Annie Lowrey, 8/13).

Modern Healthcare: Obamacare Advocates Urge Engaged Couples To Get Health Plans
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes ... signing up for health insurance.  As young brides and grooms prepare to tie the knot, one advocacy group wants to make sure they're registering for more than just fine china and monogrammed towels. With wedding season underway, Young Invincibles is running ads on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to make sure happy couples understand their health insurance options (8/9).

The Atlantic: A Junior Doctor's Salary
In April, Medicare spewed out some schismatic physician-payment numbers. The blast of decontextualized data said that one ophthalmologist received $12 million in payments. Another 4,000 physicians took in over $1 million in 2012 just from Medicare Part B. The New York Times' number generator let readers type in a doctor's name and get a dollar amount. In a lot of cases, physicians came off looking seriously flush with cash. Those numbers and the accompanying "Go to medical school, you can make more than Lebron" implications were misleading in that they represent revenue, not profit (James Hamblin, 8/6).

Pacific Standard Magazine: The Persuasive Power Of The Sugar Cube Pyramid
With New York City's ban on jumbo-sized soft drinks officially dead, it's clear that any reduction in consumption of these obesity-promoting beverages will need to be a matter of persuasion rather than law. Fortunately, a research team has found a simple way to convince consumers to think twice before taking their next swig of soda. Their method is to show people just how much sugar they are consuming per can through the use of an easily understandable visual device: A pyramid of sugar cubes (Tom Jacobs, 8/11).

The New York Times: Baby Pictures At The Doctor’s? Cute, Sure, But Illegal
For generations, obstetricians and midwives across America have proudly posted photographs of the babies they have delivered on their office walls. But this pre-digital form of social media is gradually going the way of cigars in the waiting room, because of the federal patient privacy law known as Hipaa. Under the law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, baby photos are a type of protected health information, no less than a medical chart, birth date or Social Security number, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (Anemona Hartocollis, 8/9).

The New York Times: Opting Against Ebola Drug For Ill African Doctor
The doctor who had been leading Sierra Leone's battle against the Ebola outbreak was now fighting for his own life, and his international colleagues faced a fateful decision: whether to give him a drug that had never before been tested on people. Would the drug, known as ZMapp, help the stricken doctor? Or would it perhaps harm or even kill one of the country's most prominent physicians, a man considered a national hero, shattering the already fragile public trust in international efforts to contain the world’s worst Ebola outbreak? (Andrew Pollack, 8/12).

The Health Care Blog: The Right To Die: The Suicide Checklist
A long trail of vital documents marks our lives. These include birth certificate, diplomas, driver's and marriage license, advanced directives, wills .... Perhaps we should create a new personal document.  Its purpose would be to give each person not only permission to kill themselves, but access to the means. ... The Suicide Certificate would be a kind of application.  A legal checklist, which once complete would allow the individual to die by their own hand, but in a controlled and definite manner (Dr. James Salwitz, 8/12).

Vox: Admitting Privileges: The New Abortion Battle, Explained
A fierce fight over a new wave of abortion regulations is quickly rising through the federal courts — and experts say it could land in front of the Supreme Court as soon as next spring. ... The battle centers on admitting privilege laws, which require providers to gain the right to admit patients at a local hospital in order to preform abortions. The laws aren't new, but they've recently become much more common: nine states have passed this type of requirement since 2011. Some of these laws have, or could, lead to clinic closures if local hospitals refuse admitting privilege applications (Sarah Kliff, 8/12).

Related, earlier KHN story: FAQ: The Next Abortion Battle: The Courts And Hospital Admitting-Privilege Laws (Julie Rovner, 8/8)

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