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Medicine Government United States Science

The New National Health Plan Is Texting 191

theodp writes "With a gushing press release, Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra announced the launch of Text4baby, 'an unprecedented mobile health public-private partnership' designed to promote maternal and child health. Expectant women are instructed to 'Enter the date of the first day of your last menstrual period' to start receiving 'timely and expert health information through SMS text messages' until their child reaches the age of 12 months (limited to 3 free messages/week). The White House Blog has more information on the 'historic collaboration between industry, the health community and government.' Separately, the White House announced plans to spend $3,000 on 'Game-Changing' Solutions to Childhood Obesity. Once again, Dilbert proves to be scarily prescient."
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The New National Health Plan Is Texting

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  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @09:52AM (#31045190)

    Or is spending 1000 dollars on bad health care to a private company good and 100 dollars on good health care to the government bad?

    If it could be clearly demonstrated that we'd get the same healthcare as we're getting now for a lower price on government-run healthcare, I doubt you could find more than a handful of people in this country who'd oppose it.

    Alas, so far, not a single proposal for government-run healthcare has met that criterion. Certainly this last go-round didn't. What we keep getting from the government is "we'll improve your healthcare by making it cost more, but not deliver more"....

  • by gujo-odori ( 473191 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:14AM (#31045300)

    I can maybe answer some of that.

    Having lived in countries with national health care systems (someplace in Asia), with private insurance (US), and with no insurance at all but low prices (some other palce in Asia), I have found the highest level of care by far to be in the United States. The worst care, by far, was in the place with no insurance but cheap prices. In most hospitals there, if you're not bribing the staff (and thus raising the price), you'll get almost no care. The place with a national health insurance system was a middle case. Primary care and ob/gyn care is reasonably good (but not as good as the US; our first child was conceived in that country but born in the other place in Asia) and the co-pays were roughly price-equivalent to the US. Hospital stays there, however, fall far short of what you get here. I spend a week in the hospital there, and it was most unpleasant. The national health insurance only paid for a bed in a six-patient room and I was surrounded by people who were far sicker than I, with all the noise, smells, and potential cross-infection that goes with that. The equipment was lousy (I couldn't even get an IV tree with wheels; I had to carry the thing to the communal bathroom; no in-room bathroom or shower). The nursing care was fair, and the food was disgusting. I lived off the convenience store in the basement and a pizza a friend brought me.

    Do I want the US health care system to become like the middle case I described? No way. We're way, way better than that now. My wife, who is from one of those other places, agrees that our quality of health care is the best. Going to a national insurance system will probably pull that quality down.

    What, then, do we need to fix? A few things:

    1) Fix the extremely hostile and litigious malpractice lawsuit industry; it's a major factor in what makes health care and insurance so expensive here. It desperately needs reform. And by "fix" I mean that it needs to be far, far harder to sue someone for malpractice, that you need to really prove they fucked up hugely, along the lines of something that could cause a license suspension or revocation.

    2) The way health insurance companies can screw people by doing things like declaring a pre-existing condition uncovered, charging people who actually get sick and use their insurance more money (it's supposed to be a shared risk pool; everyone should pay the same).

    3) Get better standardization of forms, etc., so it doesn't cost doctors so much to deal with health insurance. The best thing about the country with national health insurance is that doctors easily knew where they stood and didn't need to employ one or more insurance specialists.

    4) Use the forms in points 1-3 to make health insurance cheaper and available to all. Subsidize the cost with tax credits for people who are low income if you have to.

    That's how we need to reform health care. What we definitely don't need is national health insurance.

    What's so scary about a national health insurance system? To *really* fuck something up requires a government. The US government, in particular is very good at that, and is also very good at ridiculously underestimating what something will cost (or more likely, lying about it). One thing is for certain: spending 100 dollars on government health care will most certainly not get you better health care than spending 100 dollars on private health care. The government never, ever does things better and cheaper. Typically, it's both worse and more expensive.

    Government is rarely the solution. More government is even more rarely the solution. Mostly, government is the problem. Sure, we have improvements to be made, but a huge, bloated and expensive government health care bureaucracy isn't the way to do it.

  • Improving the NHS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OldEarthResident ( 1724062 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:15AM (#31045308)
    I agree with you that the NHS provides some good things and for a routine or otherwise well known illness I have found the NHS to do a good job.

    However, when you have a unusual condition, as I apparently do [], and which standard testing doesn't reveal any insight into, then you can be basically ignored by the NHS until your condition becomes debilitating. Unfortunately, by that time, it's generally too late to do something about it.

    I have no real idea why the consultants will not spend any extra time trying to track down the problem, but I suspect it has to do with the NHS been very target driven and getting people through the door as quickly as possible. To any NHS workers here, I am sorry if that seems harsh, but it's how I currently feel.

    The opinion of this patient is that the NHS needs to develop procedures for been able to spend time diagnosing patients with unusual conditions and not leaving it until it's too late to do any good about it, because right now, my only real hope is that this condition (whatever it is) stabilises before my vision gets too dim to be of use.

    (BTW Slashdot, if anyone here has any ideas about why a person's perceived brightness level would dim without any MRI or VEP tests been positive, I would be very interested in any suggestions you may have.)

  • by I_Voter ( 987579 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:17AM (#31045318)

    Government is not charity, it's legalized theft.

    According to the "centrist" "founding father" James Madison - the principle task of government is economic regulation,
    FP #10 Principle Task of Government. []

  • by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:22AM (#31045354) Homepage

    You'd rather pay more than the government would take to a third party, to get worse service?

    It's going to take quite a bit of convincing for me to believe that this is the case, especially considering the traditional efficiency of U.S. government.

    Really, you expect that because the government is paying, quality of service will magically increase? And that any possible increase in efficiency would not be offset by the overhead of a single payer system? And you have proof that this will be the case IN THE U.S., whose government cannot even pay for its current obligations, who routinely has annual deficits greater than the GDP of most countries, and whose problems will only compound as the population ages?


  • by techentin ( 121099 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:05AM (#31045544)

    Haven't these people heard about HIPAA? You can't just transmit personal health information over arbitrary text message networks. It doesn't matter if they have a "secure server" somewhere(*). The whole network needs to be secure and auditable. And something tells me that this isn't the case for text messages.

    (*) Google can find exactly two mentions of text4baby and HIPAA, both of which just say that there is a secure server.

  • by RicktheBrick ( 588466 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:14AM (#31045592)
    I was in Nebraska last year with my 7 year old nephew who needed medical assistance. They billed his mother stating that they do not accept out of state insurance. A couple of years ago I was in charge of distributing my mother's money. I made the mistake of giving my niece her money. The government seeing that she had a little bit of money(just $10,000) stripped her of medical and food benefits. While she had that money she had a $2,000 medical expense so they took her state income tax refund to pay for it. Why didn't I just give the money to the government instead? I did have to pay the federal and state governments over $15,000 in taxes. The gross national income is around $50,000 per person in this country and yet we have to take away money from the people who make less than the poverty level. I sure hope the tea party members are enjoying themselves while on their expensive cruise and while they are listening to the $100,000 speech by Sarah Palin. I am sure they can justify taking from the poor so they can spend all that money.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:15AM (#31045598) Homepage Journal

    Then would you say that "theft" is necessarily morally indefensible?

    If so, then anything that the government does must also be morally indefensible. That includes enforcing criminal laws and providing redress in case of breach of contract.

    If *anything* the government does is morally defensible, AND if theft is necessarily morally indefensible, then "government is theft" is necessarily wrong in a literal sense. But it could still be right in a poetic sense.

    The term for a political statement that is wrong in literal sense but right in a poetic sense is "political slogan".

  • It depends (Score:4, Interesting)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @03:45PM (#31047398) Journal

    Really, you expect that because the government is paying, quality of service will magically increase?

    It depends. When looking for weather information online, it's the National Weather Service for me, and that's about it. Anything else is ad-laden, Java/flash crippled, and generally not serious about the weather, and more serious about generating ad revenue or trying to direct you to some site that will install spyware. Cable weather? Don't get me started on how when I was living back east, the slot usually reserved for The Weather Channel was showing a baseball game while an F4 tornado ripped up close enough for me to see the cloud top. The local ABC affiliate covered that storm nicely, however.

    So. Weather. Government does a good job.

    Same deal with the USGS, BTW--can you imagine their earthquake response site, with its cool maps broken down by ZIP codes, if it were done privately?

    These programs are tremendously valuable, yes, life saving, and not running up the national debt AFAIK. They're probably a drop in the bucket. It's corporations that have given us the current system, and yes--they actually tried to destroy the National Weather Service too; but that was so ridiculous that even the politicians couldn't justify caving in.

    Now, these are the good examples. Yes, there is the DMV, public schooling, my own personal experience with tenants rights in DC (totally broken) the Santa Cruz County permitting process (OMG, don't get me started on that) etc.

    So. It breaks both ways. Plainly though, we are failing and need change--not the complex, half-hearted change that the current reform is either. Real change. Teddy Roosevelt, trust-busting, socialism is not a dirty word, CHANGE. Someone who can tell the corporations to piss off. Insurance companies don't add value here. That's the elephant in the room nobody would tackle. We needed a TR. Instead we got a GWB with good grammar. There's always 2012.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"