Monday, December 9, 2013

More about Affordable Care Act

The federal website created by the Affordable Care Act is working better, but it's not yet perfect. That's the gist of Monday's story in the Charlotte Observer. I wrote it after talking with six Charlotte-area experts -- three insurance agents and three "navigators" who have been trained to help enroll consumers into insurance plans in the online marketplace.

That assessment of the status of enrollment -- by the people who are using the website -- drew criticism from one reader who called it a "puff" piece and referred me to some other recent stories about the roll-out of the new health care law.

I'll pass them along for the benefit of others who may have missed them.

The New York Times' Robert Pear wrote a piece about how premiums may be low on the health exchange, but other insurance costs can be high.

On Sunday, Chris Wallace of Fox News interviewed Ezekiel Emanuel about President Barack Obama's promise that Americans could keep their doctors and their insurance plans.

I'll add a couple of my own suggestions:

A week ago, the Times also published an interesting piece about what went wrong with the website and how slowly administration officials responded to the catastrophe.

The Observer was among the first to report -- on Nov. 7 -- about the phenomenon of consumers receiving letters from insurance companies announcing cancellation of their current health plans and suggesting new plans that would cost much more. This was what started the outcry by those who claimed Obama had broken his promise that you could keep your current plan if you like it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Former JAMA editor: Hospitals are dangerous places

Dr. George Lundberg, past editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, has long been an advocate for patient safety.

In 1994, he published the seminal article by Dr. Lucian Leape, "Error in Medicine," and was criticized by AMA members who did not believe it and called for Lundberg's termination.

"Whose side are you on?" they asked.

Lundberg replied, "The side of science, truth, and all patients."
He recounts this experience in a new article for his blog, At Large At Medscape, at

Here's an excerpt:

"Hospitals are dangerous places. I no longer work in a hospital, and I try never to go to hospitals even to visit, unless, of course, I or my family were to become really sick and would obviously stand to benefit from hospitalization. I feel almost the same about surgicenters, free-standing emergency rooms, and urgent care facilities."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Myths about Obamacare

I spent an hour today listening to a webinar for journalists writing about the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The speaker was Angie Holan, editor of PolitiFact, a publication that checks claims about all things political, including both critical and complimentary claims about the health care overhaul.

Earlier this year, PolitiFact published an article about 16 Myths About Obamacare.

A couple of highlights: There are no death panels. And Muslims are not excluded.