Monday, July 16, 2012

Health Care

There are so many issues with the healthcare system that I really don't know where to start thinking about them.  The ones that I know off the top of my head are:

  • High healthcare costs
  • Difficulty in getting insurance
  • State-by-state regulations
  • Difficulty understanding what coverage you have
  • Doctors scared of being sued/high cost of malpractice insurance
  • Doctors performing more tests than necessary
  • Little or no preventative care nationwide
  • Insurance companies with too much lobbying power
  • Possible fraudulent activity, due to high value and low penalties
  • Unequal knowledge (patients vs. doctors vs. insurance companies vs. regulators vs. everyone!)
  • The debate about the universal right to healthcare, or not
  • Supply limitation due to high barrier to becoming a doctor
  • Specialist is more lucrative than general care is more lucrative than nurse, but they re useful in reverse order, creating abundance and scarcity at the same time
So, the question is - how do you fix all those problems?  The fix almost depends on where you stand on the role of government in people's lives.  It also depends on your world outlook, your current state of health, and your empathy with your fellow Americans.  I'd even argue that it depends on your hipocracy.  

Each of the items above have many different possible intervention points.  Depending on your information, some points are easier to see than others, but of course they vary in impact, cost, and social acceptability.  I believe that they are all interrelated, aside from all concerning the healthcare industry.  I'm convinced that there is one or a small series of causes that all the current problems with healthcare can be attributed to.  

In the future, I'm going to read up on the new healthcare bill and see how it addresses the issues I mentioned above.  

I'd love to hear you comments on my list of issues, what you think any root causes are, and what you'd do differently to make healthcare perfect.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Doomed to repeat it

The old saying goes that if you don't learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it.  The meaning being that if you don't understand the mistakes of the past, they will likely repeat themselves, rather than civilization (and even your own life) progressing and making new, completely unique mistakes.

I have a hard time remembering all the different items I learned in history class, especially the dates.  When confronted with an issue, I try to learn the machinations and the outcomes, and leave the details to the history books.

But the more I talk with people about politics and try to get their take on things, the more I realize that the minutia - the details of who was in office, what other programs were going on, economic landscape at the time, etc - the more I feel the background causes a divide in ideology.  It's the little things that really make for spirited debate, and I'd like to thank the bartender at Fizz for showing me that last night.  I'm inspired to learn more about the history of our country and the political, social, and economic climates we've been through.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Human Attribution

A study that shows that people want human attribution, rather than computer-generated?  So passe!  I'm more interested in how a computer/internet giant could use this information when knitting together crowd-sourced materials.  It actually makes me think of the Google images, where you could tag images with a partner, and the more esoteric the tag you agreed upon, the more points you could get. 

Human attribution is the idea that when a person puts a picture (or any other content, for that matter) online, they are much happier if a human responds (tag, comment, like, etc.) than if that response was computer generated (some programs can auto-tag photos).  That shouldn't be such a weird idea, since we tend to reject robots and artificial intelligences, sometimes because they are too human (but not human enough for us to accept). 

Over time, though, we may get used to having services like auto-tagging.  In that case, we will move to different means of getting human attribution.  Photos may become less important than they are now, because they move beyond sharing lives and into cataloging them.  Videos may be the only medium left where we can prove that computers aren't the ones providing responses. 

Its little computer-controlled items like this that will lead to a technology backlash.  Eventually people will start giving up services like Facebook and MySpace because they just don't offer the same validation as in the past.  And if enough services cut out validation for automation, maybe we will see regression to pre-technological times... maybe?  Please?