KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Longer Looks: Should Women Pay More Than Men For Insurance?

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

Slate: Why Aren’t There More Cancer Vaccines?
Six years from now, when my daughter turns 11, she will get a three-part human papillomavirus vaccine that will reduce her chances of getting cervical cancer by around 70 percent. Currently a little over half of American girls get the HPV vaccine, a public health intervention that will prevent tens of thousands of cancers. It’s one of modern medicine’s few success stories in finding a means of preventing cancer. ... in an as yet unpublished study, economists Eric Budish and Heidi Williams teamed up with patent lawyer Ben Roin to argue that the scarcity of preventive measures and relative abundance of late stage cancer treatments can also be blamed on the distorting effects that the U.S. patent system has on medical research (Ray Fisman, 8/26).

Salon: Nutrition Labels Are Misleading Us
Diane Cary still chuckles when she remembers the scene she witnessed in a supermarket cereal aisle. A mother and her child were haggling over which cereal to get. The mother insisted on Grape Nuts because she felt it was healthy, but the kid desperately wanted Count Chocula. Exasperated, the mom put both boxes side-by-side and proposed they review the nutrition labels and buy the more nutritious of the two. When Cary passed the family again in another aisle, they had two boxes of Count Chocula in their cart. As it turns out, in a 100-calorie portion, sugary Count Chocula actually packs more of many vitamins than Grape Nuts (although it does have less protein and fiber) (Jill Richardson, 8/28).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: HIV Researchers Turn To Social Media For Recruits
"Hey, stud. Busy?" "Not really," Eiren Shuman, 27, coquettishly typed back in response to what he suspected was an automated message. …This service, called Grindr, is an app that gay and bisexual men use to hook up over the Internet. And it is the same app that Penn researchers used to recruit Shuman into HVTN 505, a national clinical trial for an HIV vaccine. Men who have sex with men account for 63 percent of new HIV infections and are the focus of a new techie approach to HIV prevention (Leila Haghighat, 8/28).

American Medical News: Policing Medical Practice Employees After Work
The University of Pennsylvania Health System and its affiliates recently joined Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals in banning the employment of smokers. Proponents say such policies lower health care costs and improve employee and community health. Others believe these restrictions may be the beginning of a slippery ethical slope in which employees can be fired or banned for personal decisions and activities unrelated to their specific jobs. The question is: Will and can private physician practices soon follow suit, banning or disciplining employees not only for smoking but also for other outside activities deemed detrimental to the image of the group? ... These issues, say human resources, health policy and legal experts, are complex and evolving (Sheryl Cash, 8/26).

Time: Women Should Pay More For Health Care
The Obama Administration is about to spend $684 million on a public relations and enrollment campaign to persuade young, uninsured Americans to buy government-approved Obamacare plans.  In order to be successful, it needs to persuade young men in particular to enroll, but Obamacare requires insurers to charge men the same for their premiums as women in 2014. This attempt at fairness is anything but. If fairness were really the guiding principle, it would be quite simple: women would pay more for health insurance because women consume more health care (Hadley Heath, 8/23).

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