Friday News Dump: Wonkbites

by Galen Benshoof

The federal exchange platform might have a glitch, but Wonkbites never does.

  1. For quality care, location mattersA recent study illuminates a stark divide in the country: low-income earners in states with effective systems of care are largely healthier than high-income earners in poorly-performing states. The Midwest and Northeast had the best health system performance for low-income populations, with parts of Appalachia and the South at the other end of the spectrum. It may already be apparent to you that most states with poor health systems have also refused to expand their Medicaid programs. As a result, low-income residents of the Deep South and Southeast have little relief in sight.
  2. Desperation from the right. Anti-Obamacare forces are out with an odious new advertisement, demonizing the ACA by raising the specter of rape. The video, which features a shy young woman in a gynecological exam room, represents a new low for the opposition. Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic notes why the ad is doubly awful—prior to the ACA, many women did not have access to any type of preventative care. Thanks to the law, insurers are now required to cover an array of services, including cervical cancer screenings and mammograms. Disgracefully, the opposition wants to scare women away from signing up and receiving they care they need.
  3. Private vs. publicWalgreens joined a slew of other firms in shifting its employees to private health insurance exchanges. Under that framework, employers provide a defined contribution to workers or retirees, thus reducing their exposure to rising health care costs. As they grow in popularity, will private exchanges achieve the same kind of efficiencies as the ACA’s public exchanges? And will workers benefit from this arrangement? As opposed to public exchanges, insurance obtained under private exchanges is unlikely to be portable, keeping coverage chained to employment.
  4. DNA discovery. Contravening decades of established thought, scientists are realizing that it’s not uncommon for people to contain multiple genomes. Women can acquire genomes from their children, twins can gain genomes from each other, and mutation can produce additional genomes. These new insights may have far-reaching implications for forensics, medical research, and more. It could even undermine the credibility of services like 23andMe, which claim to provide accurate assessments of customers’ health risks based on a cheek sample. Though it won’t topple the entire field, it should definitely give pause to those pinning the future of health on genomics.
  5. Home brew. It’s possible for humans to make beer inside of our own bodies. In what experts are calling “auto-brewery syndrome,” brewer’s yeast can grow inside the human intestinal tract, and in rare cases, get you drunk. Brings a whole new meaning to being stout in your midsection.


Galen is a Master in Public Affairs candidate at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he focuses on health policy. Find him on Twitter: @benshoof.


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