Monday Links

1. “Salary ‘spiking’ drains public pension funds.” The LA Times details how public employees in California counties have incentives to use accounting tricks that let them receive more money in retirement than they did working. Meanwhile, pension funds are underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars and regular ‘public good’ services are being threatened. Looks like a case of Backwards Government.

2. “Why an MRI costs $1,080 in America and $280 in France.” (And the HN discussion.) The Washington Post brings out some interesting facts about the complicated country comparisons of health care costs. My biggest question right now is why insurance companies don’t negotiate hospital prices down the way that foreign governments apparently do, since they would seem to have even more incentives. (I haven’t sought an answer yet; it’s just a question that this story raised for me but did not seem to answer.) The answer may be evidence that only government can fix a fundamental failure in this market – or it may be evidence that government is preventing the market from working.

3. “What would Breitbart do?” Dave at Classical Values calls out suspicious claims in the Sandra Fluke hullabaloo that seem to have gone unquestioned by the media. I’ve seen a couple claims on the Internet that there is some kind of medical condition involved that really does make the contraception cost as much as she claimed, but the focus on this whole story is all wrong.

4. “Rush Limbaugh Isn’t The Only Media Misogynist.” Kirsten Powers at the Daily Beast details the frequent liberal name-calling of conservative women that has never gotten as much attention as Limbaugh’s dumb outburst. A few of the examples are admittedly weak, but you could drop out the weakest one-third and still have a litany of liberal libel that somehow isn’t important enough to get plastered all over the media and elicit bravery calls from President Obama. (I feel like I’m stooping to partisan hackery on this topic, but there really does seem to be an “imbalance in the force” on this one.)

5. TSA outrage story of the day.

6. “Dark matter blob confounds experts.” A galaxy collision is disobeying current theories about gravity and dark matter. Apparently one possible explanation is that there are “different kinds of dark matter.” I’m sure it’s just my ignorant skeptical mindset at work, but that almost seems to me like grasping at straws to keep forcing an existing theory to work instead of admitting that the theory might be completely wrong. And they say religious folks are the ones who insist on believing in things that can’t be directly observed!

7. Random funny Internet picture of the day.

2 thoughts on “Monday Links”

  1. On #2, my impulse (which may just show my bias) is that since health insurance is almost always provided through an employer, health insurers tend to compete more on coverage than on price. Price signals are diluted through the employer, but it’s very visible when your doctor says your insurance doesn’t cover the treatment he wants you to have.

    In order to negotiate lower prices from doctors and hospitals, the insurer has to be able to credibly withdraw coverage for a treatment. In some cases (most recently contraception), that may actually be illegal for them to do. In other cases, the doctor knows the insurer will face pressure to keep coverage, because he’s been encouraging his patients to pressure the insurer in the first place.

    1. Interesting, that’s definitely better than anything I’ve come up with or come across so far. Thanks.

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