DRIVING INNOVATION

Excellence in Leadership,
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Great things are done by a series of small things.

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As we come into the Holiday season, I find this a good time to give thanks for all the blessings that my family, my friends and most of us have, in one way or another. And it’s also a good time to think about those that are less unfortunate than we are. And this includes the medically uninsured. Lest you believe that being medically under or uninsured is not as bad as it sounds, we should remember that roughly 40% of Americans owe collectors for medical bills and that U.S. adults are more likely than those in other developed countries to struggle to pay their medical bills or worse, to forgo care because of cost, as a recent piece in The Atlantic highlighted. Which means that medical bills have become the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. And being under or uninsured quite literally leads to an early death. An analysis by Families USA noted that across the nation, 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010, placing the lack of insurance in the top 15 causes of death per the US DHHS National Vital Statistics Report.


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Economist Uwe Reinhardt recently argued in the The New York Times that medical education is a private vs. a public good, and therefore may not merit federal (or presumably state) funding. Reinhardt approaches the debate as an interesting theoretical exercise, a matter of correctly applying existing textbook definitions from the social science of economics, and an exam question that helps him get the grade curve he’s looking for in his undergraduate economics classes at Princeton. But his freshman students who get it “wrong” may have a better real-world grasp on the topic than their esteemed professor. They intuitively get what he misses: Health care is not a typical commodity, and human approaches to health care do not follow standard economic modeling.