Latest Blog Posts & Articles


Financial Disparities and Abdominal Girth  

I recognize that correlation does not prove causation. But here is a picture illustrating the correlation between income inequality and the percent of a country’s population that is obese. The findings are provocative, to say the least.

https://t.co/fuCYbxoxqH

https://t.co/fuCYbxoxqH

Making the relationship somewhat plausible is all the evidence we have now of the toll that income inequality takes upon people’s lives. It is one thing to be poor. It is something much worse to be poor when surrounded by wealth. Income inequality increases stress. It is plausible that this stress contributes to behaviors that lead to obesity, and to physiologic changes that predispose people to gaining weight.

Thanks to Pierre Chandon for tweeting this image out.

 

 

 

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Beware of Large Pizza Slices!

Pizza is pizza, and a full stomach is a full stomach. But when restaurants slice pizza into smaller pieces, you are probably likely to consume less pizza:

Beware of Large Pizza Slices

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Stingy Insurance + Low Income = Bad Combination

The Commonwealth Fund recently circulated information on the widespread difficulty many Americans have paying for their medical care, even when they have insurance. Burdened by high co-pays and high coinsurance rates, these out-of-pocket expenses are putting people on the financial edge. Here is a picture of the results, which show that a third of people living at less than 200% of the federal poverty limit struggled paying for such services in the past 12 months:

Stingy Insurance + Low Income = Bad CombinationWe have an affordability problem in the US healthcare system!

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How Philosophy Training Helps Me Overcome the Persuasive Power of Advertising

Advertising is about persuasion. Companies spend billions of dollars per year trying to convince us to buy their products. But sometimes, rigorous philosophical training can help us avoid that influence. Consider the following ad:

How Philosophy Training Helps Me Overcome the Persuasive Power of AdvertisingOnly deep immersion in Immanuel Kant helped me recognize the flaws in this reasoning!

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Can’t Afford Medical Care? Welcome to America!

David Blumenthal and colleagues recently wrote a wonderful piece in the New England Journal on the future of Medicare. In it, they present a powerful picture comparing how often people in 11 countries have difficulty accessing medical care because of costs.

The good news? The USA came in first place. The bad news? First is worse!

Can't Afford Medical Care Welcome to America

 

 

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A Health Insurance Double Whammy

In case you missed it, I am recirculating a picture put together by the Kaiser Family Foundation , which reveals two unsettling facts about health insurance in United States.

First, the cost of employer-based health insurance has risen 61% since 2005. When health insurance premiums rise, salaries don’t. That’s a problem.

Second, worker contributions have risen even faster than overall premiums, increasing 83% over this period of time.

Health Insurance Double Whammy

We have tremendous income inequality in this country that arises for a whole host of reasons. Healthcare costs are making this problem worse, by diverting money away from people’s take-home pay in order to cover the rising costs of health insurance.

Sorry if that is a bit of a downer.

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Best Email of the Week

La Locura del Libre MercadoI got an unusual email message a little while ago. It was from someone I had never met before, and it wasn’t obvious to me, at first, why this person was contacting me. The email began like this:

“I am an engineer and I work in a company of public passenger transport in Buenos Aires. Regardless of my training, I have a personal interest in economics as a science. I try to inform me and enable me everything I can on the subject.”

Okay, I thought. Here comes the part about needing money, or being connected to a prince – do they have those? – in Argentina. Then the email continued:

“Just I want to tell that I have read his book La Locura del Libre Mercado (at least that’s how it was called in the Spanish language edition) and I found a brilliant work.”

I am always up for good book recommendations. So I googled the title that he sent me, only to discover that it was a Spanish language edition of one of my books, Free Market Madness!

Pretty damn funny.

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Judging Policies by Their Supporters

The world is complicated. It’s hard to know what the federal government should do about a whole range of problems. That’s why most people take a shortcut, and judge policies based on their opinion of the people who support or oppose those policies. If you like someone, and he supports a policy, then you are more likely to think the policy is a good idea.

Take this clever, if not totally surprising, poll reported on in the Huffington Post – which showed dramatic changes in support for universal healthcare depending on whether people thought Barack Obama or Donald Trump supported the idea:

Judging Policies By Their SupportersAs with much of partisan politics, there’s no political party immune to these strange patterns of belief. God bless America!

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The New Yorker’s Roz Chast Nails the Topic of Healthcare Price Transparency

The New Yorker’s Roz Chast Nails the Topic of Healthcare Price Transparency

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A History of Healthcare Costs in One Picture

History of Healthcare Costs in One PictureThanks to Josh Grey for the image.

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