Hospitals Should Not be Allowed to Advertise

Recently, I received two ads for two different hospitals, and of course their emergency departments.

The first hospital’s ad arrived in the mail. It included a map, labeled “You’re only 6 miles from EXPERT ER CARE,” and the actual route I would need marked with a nice bold, blue line. Oh thank goodness, otherwise I might have had no idea how to get to that big hospital building clearly visible just off the freeway.

The second hospital left a card hanging on the door hyping how close they were. It included a refrigerator magnet with “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY,”  the address (including which freeway exit to take), a phone number, and even a web address. Because when you are having a medical emergency, you really want to check their website before going to the hospital. Right?

Now here’s the problem: to get to either hospital, I have to drive by a third hospital that is probably within walking distance of my home. Well, maybe not walking distance if I am having a medical emergency. Heck, the kids who hung the magnet on my door probably drove past the third hospital as well. Why on earth would I go to a hospital that is further away if I actually need the services of an emergency department? In a medical emergency, I need help now, not 6 miles from now.

The point is that both hospitals completely wasted money printing and delivering advertising to me. That money didn’t help a single patient. That money didn’t pay for a single doctor, nurse, medical assistant, or even janitor. That money didn’t buy any medical equipment or medications. That money didn’t keep the lights on in an operating room. That money didn’t even line the pockets of a hospital executive… unless his wife owns a printing company.

Cutting worthless ads won’t solve the issue of health care costs, but it’s a painless first step.

In Closing: Coming together online; frugality; and here’s some bonus health and health insurance links.

Prep Your Guest Room

Because if Mr. Obama gets his way, your parents will eventually have no choice but to move in with you.

CNN/Money describes Chained CPI as “The Geeky Debt Fix That Might Work.” It will do no such thing. The assumption is that “CPI overmeasures inflation” when in fact, inflation has been systematically undermeasured for many years. So the answer — according to people who don’t have to balance their own checkbooks — is to adjust inflation yet again so we don’t have to pay more going forward.

That means lower cost of living raises for Congressmen, sure. It also means lower raises for mail carriers, IRS auditors, soldiers and sailors (support our troops, right), and everybody on Social Security. So relative to real inflation, all their paychecks will feel smaller and buy less. In general, wages in this nation haven’t kept up with inflation for most of the last 50 years, so that’s going to hurt even more.

And it’s not going to cut deficits. Even if it works as planned, it will only reduce the rate at which the deficit gets bigger. That’s like going on a weight loss plan and bragging that you’re only gaining 2 pounds a month instead of 5.

Never mind that Social Security does not contribute to the national deficit in any way. Never mind that if the eggheads in Washington were really worried about the idea that at some hazy date in the future, Social Security will pay out more than it pays in, they would suggest raising the maximum contribution.

So go ahead and write or call your Representative and Senators. Send email to the White House too. Ask them point blank:

If Chained CPI is enacted, can my mom come live with you? Because I don’t think I can afford it.

Maybe if they get enough calls, they will notice that this is a bad idea.

In Closing: If this were a math test, they’d fail; Judge cuts political gordian knot; Too Big To Fail is Too Big To Exist; his little outburst earned him a $75k fine and a $100k bonus (explain again how sports makes money for colleges??); Kim, even Castro thinks you’re going too far; and huffing bears.

Follow Up: The Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners at Walgreens are a poor substitute for a Doctor. Some are so dangerous, they don’t even know what they don’t know.

Gridlock and Opportunity

The next session of Congress is either going to be complete gridlock, or an era of great bi-partisanship. I say this based on this chart from Nate Silver. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s Nate “the man who got all the numbers right when everybody else got them horribly wrong” Silver:


Let me point out the obvious. It takes 218 votes to get most things done in the House of Representatives. Neither the mainstream Republicans nor the Democrats (with or without the Blue Dog crowd) have those votes. The Tea Party has become a de-facto third party. To get anything done, there will have to be a coalition and/or a compromise: either between the two parties, or with the Tea Partiers. This should be obvious to both Mr. Boehner and Ms. Pelosi. The President already said it out loud. As Mr. Silver points out, on this and pretty much every bill in the next session, Mr. Boehner “will need to win the support of at least some liberal Democrats. And a bill that wins the support of some liberal Democrats will be an even harder sell to Mr. Boehner’s Republicans. For each vote that he picks up from the left, he could risk losing another from his right flank.”

Nobody knows if the glass is half-empty or half-full. Was Mr. Boehner’s ill-named “Plan B” a symptom of his increasing irrelevance, or an attempt to enter a Post- Norquist political world? Will the 113th Congress be a more sane and bi-partisan body, or a place where the right hand and the left hand quite literally don’t know what the other is doing? Let’s hope for sanity.

In Closing: military research saving lives on battlefields and eventually on American streets; why re-invent public education with things we aren’t even sure work when we can just crib off Massachusetts?; yeah, it turns out there were good guys with guns at Columbine and it didn’t help (at least the good guys didn’t injure more students); and maybe this deserves more thought.