Category Archives: In the News

Grease, friction, and Amway markups in healthcare

UnityPoint Hospital

With a few exceptions, U.S. consumers spend at least twice as much per capita on healthcare than they do in a dozen other countries with true universal coverage and equal, if not better, outcomes. Bad, right? Here is the sticky part: most of that extra cash that you and your employer fork out pays the salaries of hundreds of thousands… Read more »

John Roberts and the myth of balls and strikes

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Little League

The details of the role Chief Justice John Roberts must play in the upcoming Senate trial of President Trump is a matter of some debate, even among Constitutional scholars. One commentator has said that he is to be a “potted plant,” in other words that his role is completely ceremonial. In this view, this proceeding is completely under the control… Read more »

Stupid stuff and the probability of tragedy

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Italian Hall

Drunk drivers will almost always get home safely each night. And if that happens enough successive times, the human brain “learns” a very bad thing, that it is okay to be driving drunk. Until tragedy strikes and it’s not. The Barack Obama foreign policy had been famously summarized as “Don’t do stupid s**t,” which is opposite of drunk driving, but… Read more »

Your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan bets

Pill bottle

In recent posts, I have discussed viewing the selection of Medicare Part B Medigap and Part C Advantage plans as a set of probabilistic “bets” that you are making with your money against your health. This post extends that idea to Medicare Part D prescription coverage plans that were first instituted in the early 2000s during the George W. Bush… Read more »

Worth a read: How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr

How to Hide an Empire

I like history books that surprise me with something important that I should have previously known. Daniel Immerwahr starts his recently-published How to Hide an Empire: a History of the Greater United States with a photocopy of a draft of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous December 7, 1941, “Day of Infamy” speech. Scratched out of the draft is a mention that… Read more »

The top posts of 2019

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Old Man Yells at Cloud

This classic image from The Simpsons characterizes this blog well. However, some posts do seem to take off on their own, usually because of forwards from Twitter and Facebook followers that I don’t even see. I have also been getting some traffic from the new social media site sponsored by Wikipedia, called WikiTribune, found at WT.Social. You have put your… Read more »

The human costs of innumeracy

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Samoa

“I don’t do math!” How often have you heard this expression, sometimes more as a brag than an excuse for some consequential mistake? As of December 19, 2019, seventy-seven people, many of them small children, had died in the small South Pacific island nation of Samoa. The cause of the epidemic was a confluence of several factors, but a significant… Read more »

The bad Medicare Advantage bet

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Life Expectancy

In a prior post on Medicare Part B “Medigap” plans I hinted at my dislike for Medicare Advantage. I have found that lots of people really like their Medicare Advantage plans. Almost all, in my experience, are healthy seniors or have retired with a high-end employer-sponsored Advantage plan. On the other hand, there are many horror stories of seniors who… Read more »

Seven bets on your Medicare supplement

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Medigap

An old cynical joke says that when you buy life insurance, you are betting that you are going to die, while the life insurance company is betting that you are going to live. Having just survived the annual mail onslaught from prospective Medicare supplement providers, I found it helpful to view the different plan options as bets on several different… Read more »

Gaslighting and the ethic of veracity

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Gaslight

I don’t know who are worse. Is it the cultists like Fox News’ Stuart Varney who says with a straight face that “Donald Trump has never lied to the American people”?  Or the Machiavellian congressmen and religious leaders who downplay the lies for their own endgames? Or the cynic’s shrugged-shouldered “All politicians lie”? My longstanding ethical credo has been that… Read more »