Cavalcade of Risk #16

In this New Year’s edition of the Cavalcade of Risk, the Healthcare Economist will make four New Year’s resolutions.  They are: 1) to get better Health Insurance, 2) to promote better Public Policy on health issues, 3) to improve the Health for individuals around the world and 4) to increase society’s wealth.

What does better Health Insurance or better Public Policy mean?  How can you best improve your physical and financial health?  Well that of course depends on which of the authors from this Cavalcade of Risk which you choose to agree with.  Let the Cavalcade begin!

Health Insurance

The Workers’ Comp Insider blog looks at how universal health insurance would alter the manner in which Workers’ Comp insurance is currently provided at the state level.  The post points out three drivers of cost differentials between workers comp and traditional health insurance.  These factors are: 1) because they have more free time, people treated under the comp system go to doctors and physical therapists much more often than those injured away from work, 2) people treated under the comp system have many more diagnostic tests run, and 3) the prices paid for medical services under comp tend to be higher than those paid under general health insurance. 

Benchmarking is defined as providing guidance to a buyer that the terms, including coverage and cost, are reasonable relative to other similar organizations.  The Specialty Insurance Blog reviews some of the studies regarding this costly process and ponders whether benchmarking is just a fad or will change the insurance landscape of the future.

The Insure Blog looks at the jump in the number of employers who use HRAs.  No, I don’t mean a Health Reimbursement Arrangement, I am talking about health risk assessments.  These employer health checks are often linked to reduced health care plan contributions or free gifts. 

For Colbert Report fans out there, check out Jon Swift’s attempt to lower health care costs in “John Derbyshire’s Wonderful Lifeâ€? post. 

Public Policy

Is government provided health insurance a good thing?  Colorado Health Insurance Insider discusses whether or not Gov. Elect Bill Ritter of Colorado will be able to fill his promise of health insurance for all of the citizens of Colorado by 2010.  Michael Cannon of the Cato-at-Liberty blog criticizes Gov. Richardson’s proposal to expand Medicaid in New Mexico.  In another post, Cannon looks at the possibility that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) could be an unlimited tax-deferral mechanism.The Healthcare Economist analyzes Matt Miller’s plan for a government controlled health system in the U.S. and his criticism of big company health plans as “socialized health republics.â€?Health

According two clinical studies in Uganda and Kenya, circumcision reduced the chances of contracting the HIV virus from heterosexual sex by 50% over the trial period.  The MindFull blog offers insightful analysis of this issue as well as directs readers to more information circumcision and AIDS.

Terry Allen conducts a risk-benefit analysis of CT scans.  While the tests are an effective diagnostic tool, few patients take into account the fact that they are exposed to high levels of radiation each time they undergo a CT scan.

Other health findings include:

  • Ed Hayes reports on an FDA draft risk assessment stating that meat and milk from clones of adult cattle, pigs and goats, and their offspring, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.
  • According to the That’s Fit blog, housework may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • The alternative medicine Find Me A Cure blog has suggestions for New Year’s resolutions to improve your health.


Melody McCray-Miller, a Wichita Democrat is hoping a measure she plans to introduce in the upcoming legislative session – which could include and interest rate cap similar to the one that drove the payday loan industry out in North Carolina – would make “predatory lending” less lucrative in Kansas. The DebtFree4ever site discusses this issue and includes an interview with Mrs. McCray-Miller. 

The Worldwide Success website gives some tips to managers regarding Cost Management, Quality Management, and Risk Management.  There is even an section on one of my favorite economic concepts: sunk costs.

What will housing prices do in 2007?  Where is the stock market headed?  Will the dollar rebound in the upcoming year or continue its gradual weakening.  The Renthusiast blog gives some predictions on these matters.

I wish everyone a happy new year and hope all your new year’s wishes come true.