KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Feature Highlights Recent Blog Entries

While mainstream news coverage is still a primary source of information for the latest in policy debates and the health care marketplace, online blogs have become a significant part of the media landscape, often presenting new perspectives on policy issues and drawing attention to under-reported topics. To provide complete coverage of health policy issues, the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report offers readers a window into the world of blogs in a roundup of health policy-related blog posts. "Blog Watch," published on Tuesdays and Fridays, tracks a wide range of blogs, providing a brief description and relevant links for highlighted posts.

The American Prospect's Ezra Klein says Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman makes a "very important point" in a recent essay where Altman discusses the need to avoid a rift between advocates of long-term health delivery system changes ("Delivery System Reformers") and those who think there needs to be immediate help for the uninsured and the insured struggling with health care costs ("Financing Reformers"), if the focus turns to consideration of incremental health reforms.

Michael Cannon on Cato@Liberty looks at two trends he says represent evidence that the market is better than government at controlling health care costs and offering choice of health insurance.

Louise of Colorado Health Insurance Insider looks at an eHealthInsurance study on the cost of individual health insurance that seems to suggest the market is affordable, but she notes that the survey included issued policies while "there's still a whole group of people who are uninsurable in the individual market because of their health history." Louise also notes that individual policies often have higher deductibles and less coverage than group plans for services such as maternity care.

John Iglehart on the Health Affairs Blog reports on a Commonwealth Fund roundtable on international health systems where panelists discussed the different roles of primary care in the U.S. and other industrialized nations.

David Williams on the Health Business Blog looks at news that PhRMA is launching a series of advertisements promoting a free-market health care system and says, "Someone is misjudging the mood of the public. People aren't looking for 'free-market' anything at the moment, especially when what the pharmaceutical industry really means by 'free market' is pricing freedom for themselves."

Bob Laszewski on Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review looks at the role of private innovation in health care markets over the last 15 years, and concludes that it "amounted to an enormous squandered lost opportunity for the market to prove its value to our health care system." Laszewski continues, "the notion that the market is the place to fix and manage our dysfunctional health care system is clearly out of vogue," but he expects that "for-profit health care players -- particularly health insurers -- will continue to have a big place in our system."

Insure Blog's Mike Feehan looks at the distinction between the cost of health insurance and the cost of health care, saying, "The high cost of health insurance is not primarily an 'insurance' problem -- it's one of the problems within our present health care delivery system."

Managed Care Matters' Joe Paduda says employers offering only high-deductible health plans are doing so to cut costs but that these plans are "directed at the wrong people." Paduda continues, "The only effect a high deductible will have on [most Americans] is to discourage the use of preventive care," but says there are other incentives to reduce spending, including replacing large deductibles with coinsurance and income-related out-of-pocket maximums.

Marilyn Werber Serafini of the National Journal's Health Care Expert Blog asks, "How should policymakers fix the current insurance market for individuals? What is the best policy approach, and what has to happen to avoid a Republican or industry attack that could kill health care reform efforts?" Responses follow from Karen Davis, Paul Ginsberg, John Goodman, Jonathan Gruber and Grace Marie-Turner.

Uwe Reinhardt on the New York Times' Economix blog looks at the higher per capita health care spending in the U.S. compared with other industrialized nations. Reinhardt says comparing gross domestic product per capita explains about 86% of the variation in health care spending across countries but that the U.S.' "excess spending," or additional spending beyond what GDP accounts for, is caused by factors such as higher prices for health services, higher administrative costs, greater use of expensive procedures and equipment and a different tort system.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.