Issue 52: Healthcare price transparency, ACA fails, avocados, and the CRISPR controversy

Procedure Price Lookup

Have you gotten a hospital bill before? The charges will startle you.

Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services rolled out a nifty search engine called the Procedure Price Lookup. Yes, it does exactly what is says it does! It allows an unsuspecting, poor, uneducated patient to look up surgery or procedure costs. It's nothing new but they just became more transparent about the Medicare reimbursement rate for what they cover in ambulatory or hospital departments. Are patients going to start suing their doctors now? Keep in mind the prices you see is what Medicare reimburses, not what the hospital charges (what you see on your hospital bill).

ACA Sign-ups Failing
Do you see what I see? It's an eagle and four human side profiles.

Affordable Care Act made some splash past couple years. Some people loved the idea of being forced to have health insurance or sharing their tax money for those who cannot afford their own healthcare, while some did not. Either way, ACA is still alive despite Trump's disdain. This year, the open enrollment period (which ends in on December 15th, but you probably had no clue) has seen about 2.4 million people via, about 350,000 shy of the numbers from last year. Did people stop caring about their health? Or is it that many of them learned that the mandate penalty no longer exists? Maybe more got full-time jobs that pay for their health insurance.  Advertisement dollars and help-lines have also shrunk this year compared to before.

Low Blow on ACA

Seema Verma, the Administrator of CMS, is looking at somebody with glee

So, if you were wondering what was happening to ACA or Obamacare that Trump claimed to get rid of, here is the newest showdown. Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services announced on Thursday that each state can choose to route the subsidy funds for insurance programs other than the income-based one that Obamacare intended for. This is delivering a low blow to what Obama worked hard for, whether it was good for the country or not. Think of it this way, Obama spearheaded a way to make healthcare a federal mandate, while Trump wants to give the power back to each state. In more detail, if the state subsidy fund allocation is determined by other factors than income, and the newer, flexible plans just allow for ''access'' to healthcare and not necessarily comprehensive plans, people in the lower income brackets who are lot sicker will get less of the subsidy money. It's a tricky business. Will state governments come up with more creative and effective ways to improve healthcare insurance plans? 

Avocados: not just for trendy millennial hipsters anymore

Iron Chef Seamus Mullen

As much as baby boomers love to rag on millennials for their love of avocados, turns out they can actually alleviate chronic pain. Iron Chef Seamus Mullen began to suffer from acute bouts of knifelike pain which gradually worsened over the years as his hours in the kitchen grew longer and longer. He was eventually diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis with pain so bad that he had to either start considering giving up his dream job as a chef or make a drastic lifestyle change. In a last ditch effort to salvage his career and well-being, Mullen bade farewell to all processed foods and began to eat a lot of healthy food, particularly avocados. Just by changing his diet,  Mullen was eventually able to not only get out of bed but become really active and life weights, bike, and continue his work as a chef without worrying about those knifelike pains anymore. Mullen’s story of undergoing a healthy lifestyle change to alleviate chronic pain is echoed by the experiences of many other people who’ve experienced the same thing. Us millennials already knew avocados were delicious, but these health benefits aren’t really investigated enough. It really is time for the healthcare field to look more into emphasizing lifestyle changes to prevent chronic health issues. 

100 Chinese Scientists say we don't want nothing to do with that CRISPR guy
Dr. Jiankui aka CRISPR daddy is in hot water

Bruh in case if you have been living underneath a gd rock you'd know that the scientific community has been furious over the CRISPR twins created last week. TL;DR scientist in china created twins that were edited using CRISPR so that they would not be able to contract HIV. They haven't formally published a paper but made a youtube video and gave a presentation at a conference. Now 100 Chinese scientists have signed a condemning letter and posted it all over Chinese social media site Weibo. In the letter the scientists called the experiment "crazy" and said that it gave the rest of the Chinese scientific community a bad rep. The letter is short and a fascinating read. Check it out HERE

Health insurance startup Bright Health just raised $200 million

Health Insurance startups are really freaking hot rn –– like I am talking Tekashi69 new album hot. A Minneapolis based insurance startup called Bright Health just raised a whopping $200 million at a valuation close to a billi. The company offers individual and family insurance plans to patients in a handful of states. You might be wondering how a company founded in 2016 was able to raise so much freaking money? Well good question. One of the founders was the former CEO of UnitedHealthcare and another founder was the CEO of Definity Health. US based insurance tech companies have raised close to $2 billion just in 2018. It's a big market though which probs why VC's are willing to dump huge amounts of capital into the space. By 2023 the health insurance market is expected to be worth *says in Dr.Evil voice* $1 trillion dollars.