Health Insurers Propose Coverage for All
Representatives of the insurance industry told Congress yesterday that they support an overhaul of the healthcare system that would call for them to accept any customer who applies for coverage, regardless of health status, the Associated Press reports. But insurers also favor a requirement for all Americans to have health insurance. Requiring health insurance for all is needed, according to industry analysts, because mandatory inclusion of both healthy and sick people would allow insurers to distribute risk over a larger group of people. Two health insurance trade organizations—America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association—put forth separate proposals that each called for coverage of those with pre-existing medical conditions in conjunction with mandating coverage for all Americans.
How to Deal With Digestive Problems
The digestive system has many varied and unpleasant ways of asserting itself when the process isn't going smoothly—all well worth pondering as the holidays approach. But while everyone suffers the occasional Imodium moment, a surprisingly large number of people wrestle every day with more disabling disorders, from Crohn's disease to gastroesophageal reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome, which by itself afflicts as many as 1 in 5 people, Michelle Andrews reports. For many, severe pain and the unpredictable need for a bathroom can mean living as prisoners in their own homes.
Andrews explores whether hypnosis and counseling can help ease the symptoms of IBS and Crohn's disease. Also, U.S. News lists seven common digestive problems and how to end them. And Adam Voiland reports on the growing use of the gluten-free diet, a therapy for celiac disease, in people who don't have that digestive condition.
Exploring the Usefulness of Hospital Ratings
Last Friday, U.S. News's Avery Comarow criticized a report in the public policy journal Health Affairs arguing that consumers' relatively restrained use of hospital ratings and data (such as America's Best Hospitals) can be blamed on confusion: The ratings and rankings measure different aspects of care, cannot be compared, and often contradict one another. He wrote that consumers can wade through the information, just as families sift through facts and numbers in America's Best Colleges and other college guides of more than 1,500 pages and cobble together custom lists online by sorting and clicking. He charged the study authors with condescending to consumers and underestimating their capabilities to do the same with hospital data.
This week, Comarow explored whether hospital ratings are a mess, a message, or both. Check out U.S. News's America's Best Hospitals special report, including how we conducted our rankings, a glossary of terms, and an in-depth look at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which is one top hospital.
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—January W. Payne