KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Longer Looks: More TV Characters With Mental Illness

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

Time: Hey, Obamacare Complainers: Regular Insurance Has Tons Of Glitches, Too
Whether you’re one of the 50 percent or so of Americans who already have private health insurance (mostly through an employer, as I do) or one of those who may now turn to the exchanges to buy coverage, the bureaucracy is often maddening. Sure, the Affordable Care Act may seem opaque and unwieldy, but make no mistake: Employer-provided healthcare—which offers plans by the very same companies now on the exchanges—is equally Byzantine. No wonder that only 22 percent of American consumers reported themselves as satisfied with the health care system in a 2012 survey (Randye Hoder, 10/9).

Gawker: Applying for Health Insurance: Before And After Obamacare (Video)
One popular Republican talking point asserts that the Affordable Care Act is unnecessary at its core because it replaces a system that was just fine the way it was. John Green of Vlogbrothers fame decided to put that trope to the test by signing up for health insurance twice: Once using the "old" system (i.e., through a health insurance provider), and once using Obamacare's newly launched "Health Insurance Marketplace." What Green found was that, despite's acknowledged glitchiness, it took him less than an hour to sign up for insurance. By comparison, the "old way" took over twice as long and would have likely taken much longer had Green not come prepared to answer 25 pages worth of invasive medical history questions ranging from "has the applicant received a moving violation" to "has the applicant in the last 10 years discussed surgery" (Neetzan Zimmerman, 10/8).

Time: Homeland And Bipolar Disorder: How TV Characters Are Changing The Way We View Mental Illness
Convinced that her medication for bipolar disorder clouded her judgment, Homeland’s protagonist began the show’s third season self-medicating with exercise and alternative therapies. And doctors say that decision, along with others Carrie Mathison has made concerning her condition, are influencing the way real patients are approaching the mental illness. Once a taboo topic, mental illness is an increasingly prominent plot line on television, ... The portrayals can be a double-edged sword, however, as they raise awareness of the realities of living with mental illness while frequently focusing on some of the more extreme symptoms and therapies (Alexandra Sifferlin, 10/9).

The Atlantic: U.S. Women Are Dying Younger Than Their Mothers, And No One Knows Why
Whether you think the Affordable Care Act is the right solution or a dangerous step toward tyranny, it’s hard to dispute that the U.S. health-care system is broken. … growing health disadvantages have disproportionately impacted women over the past three decades, especially those without a high-school diploma or who live in the South or West. In March, a study published by the University of Wisconsin researchers David Kindig and Erika Cheng found that in nearly half of U.S. counties, female mortality rates actually increased between 1992 and 2006, compared to just 3 percent of counties that saw male mortality increase over the same period (Grace Wyler, 10/7).

Dr. Kevin Campbell: Exploring The Leadership Potential Of Three Little Words: Applying 'I Don’t Know' To Medicine
Recently I read an interesting article on leadership published at  Although most of the journal is focused on those in business, many of the pieces on leadership are very applicable to those of us in Medicine.  In this article author Curt Hanke writes about the inspiration and leadership positives found in the three simple words:  "I Don’t Know." On first blush, we may think that a leader speaking these words may no longer inspire confidence and may lose the support of his or her troops.  However, as Mr. Hanke goes on to detail, the words "I Don’t Know" may provide inspiration and motivate teams to perform even better (Dr. Kevin R. Campbell, 10/7).

WeNews: Closure of Bronx Maternity Ward Stirs Activist Ire
In the borough with the city's highest maternal mortality rate, two women in labor in August died at Jacobi Medical Center, a public hospital in the Bronx, N.Y. Days later, health authorities closed a highly regarded maternity care center nearby and shifted patients and staff to Jacobi, a decision that has riled health and community activists. ... Giving staff and patients just three days' notice, North Central Bronx Hospital ended after 36 years its maternity care services on Aug. 12. All of the hospital's maternity care services, including a prenatal clinic, were transferred to Jacobi Medical Center, a 10-minute-taxi-ride away but at least 50 minutes for those relying on public transportation (Crystal Lewis, 10/7).

Slate: Deadly Disbelief
Tommy Morrison, once the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, died of AIDS last month. His case, however, was not typical for someone with HIV: He and his wife, Trisha, denied he had the infection to the bitter end. In fact, not only did they deny that Morrison was infected, they denied that HIV causes AIDS at all. And it's not even clear that they think the condition called AIDS actually exists. ... But the Morrisons’ vigorous denial that AIDS is caused by a transmissible virus, called HIV, falls well outside mainstream thinking. In their nonbelief, however, they are not alone (Kent Sepkowitz, 10/8).

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