Tag Archives: oregonian

Oregonian re-injects meaning into reform clichés

The Oregonian‘s Joe Rojas-Burke clearly has a keen eye for that special place at which jargon and cliché intersect, and his nifty health care glossary cuts right through it all to explain those terms like “bending the curve” and “diagnostic yield” that we’ve all heard so many times that they’ve lost whatever meaning, if any, that they originally had. Each definition reads like a mini-column, complete with links and context, that explains why these words and phrases are actually important.

bookPhoto by Beverly & Pack via Flickr.

Rojas-Burke tackles plenty of sophisticated concepts (scroll down to surrogate endpoint), but my favorite entry is one that goes back to basics and elegantly explains a fundamental dilemma behind rising health care costs.

Healthy — Medical technology is blurring the distinction between healthy and sick, as illustrated by a study in which 1,192 healthy women and men had their entire body scanned by X-ray computed tomography, or CT. Abnormalities showed up in 1,030 of them, nearly 90 percent, and doctors advised 37 percent of the patients to get further tests. An essayist writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association hit the nail on the head: “A colleague of mine recently asked a resident how he would define a well person. With no hesitation, the resident replied that a well person was merely someone who had not been thoroughly worked up.”

Congressional health coverage solid, not exclusive

The Oregonian‘s Charles Pope heard all the talk, especially from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), about the desirability of the health coverage members of Congress enjoy and decided to clear up a few misconceptions on the subject.

Sen. Ron Wyden speaks at Health Journalism 2009 in March in Seattle.
(Photo by Clare McLean, University of Washington Medicine)

The coverage Wyden and friends enjoy, while excellent, is no different than that available to millions of other federal employees. These employees are expected to contribute and copay just like most insurance consumers, and don’t get any truly unusual bonuses.

Federal employees do enjoy some advantages over the rest of us, however, primarily because they work for one of the nation’s largest employers and thus enjoy a level of bargaining power that yields a breadth of options not available to those who work for small or medium-sized businesses. Government workers in Washington, D.C., have 23 plans to choose from, Pope said, while in places like Oregon, they still have about a dozen options.