With the rise in superbug occurrences at hospitals, Audie Cornish talks with Tara Palmore, deputy hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease physician at the National Institutes of Health, about how healthcare facilities are changing practices to help stem the spread of the drug-resistant bacteria.
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At any given moment, a community can be devastated by a disaster and lives can be put in jeopardy. Resources are scarce and every second counts. In these dark hours, the First Response Team of America is there, free of charge, armed with specialized equipment, advanced communication systems and a commitment to save lives and restore hope, simply because it’s the right thing to do.
Peeling Away Health Care’s Sticker Shock
- 6:30 AM
In the early 1950s, it was nearly impossible to know the value of an automobile. They had prices, yes, but these would differ radically from dealer to dealer, the customer a pawn in the hands of the seller. This all changed in 1958, when US senator Mike Monroney of Oklahoma shepherded a bill through Congress requiring that official pricing information be glued to the window of every new automobile sold in the US. The “Monroney sticker,” as it came to be known, has been with us ever since. It became an effective means of disclosing the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP, and a billboard for other data disclosures to the consumer: the car’s fuel economy, its environmental rating, and so on.
The sticker price was one of the triumphs of consumer-rights legislation and has made buying a car an easier—though never altogether easy—experience. What’s more, window stickers made automobile pricing rational and understandable. A customer who knows the base price going in will expect more value coming out. In economic terms, the sticker turned a failed market flummoxed by information asymmetry into something resembling a functioning, price-driven marketplace.
If there is ever an industry in need of a Senator Monroney today, it is health care, in which 1950s-era thinking still rules the day, and irrational and inexplicable pricing is routine. The health care industry plays a gigantic game of Blind Man’s Bluff, keeping patients in the dark while asking them to make life-and-death decisions. The odds that they will make the best choice are negligible and largely depend on chance. Patients need to have data, including costs and their own medical histories, liberated and made freely available for thorough analysis. What health care needs is a window sticker—a transparent, good-faith effort at making prices clear and setting market forces to work.
listen to this story: Scientists Create Fertile Eggs From Mouse Stem Cells
SiCKO: The United States is ranked #37 as a health system by the World Health Organization.“The U. S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance, the report finds.” “World Health Organization Assesses The World’s Health Systems,” Press Release, WHO/44, June 21, 2000. Now we are ranked 50!