Insured and bankrupt + CRP tests

Underinsurance is the great hidden risk of the American health care system,” said Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who has analyzed medical bankruptcies. “People do not realize they are one diagnosis away from financial collapse.”

Warren made her comment in today’s New York Times story about how a lot of the health insurance plans out there won’t protect you from catastrophic medical expenses.

For more on this, see:

My story below on last week’s State House hearing on the cost of co-payments in the Mass plan.

Also see comment from Dr. Steffi Woolhandler’s comments on the same topic.

Also, see this Globe story on high copays.

On another topic  Globe reports on an important Boston study about the limits of a new test for heart disease risk.  Screening health people for illnesses is the subject of much debate.

Researchers, led by cardiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital, reported yesterday that testing patients for a protein associated with inflammation may help predict the risk of heart attacks and strokes in certain cases but that it is probably not useful as a widespread, routine screening tool.

The Mass. General research does not directly contradict a landmark study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital last year – which was highly supportive of testing for C-reactive protein – but sounds a more cautious note on expanding its use. It is the latest study in one of cardiology’s hottest areas, which has pitted specialists in a decade-long back and forth over the value of screening patients with the test.

The Times has a story on a related study.

Here’s the Brigham’s take on CRP. (.pdf)  


Massachusetts June 24 State House health bill testimony

The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing held a hearing Wednesday afternoon on several bills including one on health care affordability.

Health Care for All reports on the hearings on their blog.

“Dorcas Grigg-Saito, the CEO of the Lowell Community Health Center, shared the struggles many of her clients have with the costs of health care. Grigg-Saito informed the Committee that the Lowell Community Health Center serves one-third of the population of Lowell and 93% of the patients are below 200% fpl.”

(Click here for my story on how the Lowell health center works with the Khmer community’s preference for traditional medicine.)