Longer Looks: Global Obesity, Health Care Cost Transparency, A Medical Puzzle

Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The Atlantic: How Price Transparency Could End Up Increasing Health-Care Costs
Getting your appendix out can cost between $2,000 and $180,000. Hip replacements run from $10,000 to more than $100,000. Hospitals, we have also learned, frequently mark up the price of cotton swabs and routine X-rays by 300 or 400 percent, with most patients oblivious to the reason their health care bills are so large. As a response to the hidden variability in health care prices, an increasing number of states have passed price transparency legislation. Federal legislators have even introduced several bills into Congress to make health care prices more transparent. Expect more such bills to follow (Peter Ubel, 4/9)

The New Yorker: The D.S.M. And The Nature Of Disease
When the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders hits the stores on May 22nd, it will signal the end of a fraught thirteen-year campaign. Every revision of the D.S.M. causes controversy; that's what happens when experts argue in public about the nature of human suffering. But never has the process provoked warfare so brutal, with attacks coming from within the profession as well from psychiatry's usual opponents. Indeed, it's possible that no book has ever been subject to such scrutiny in the course of being written. It is as if J. K. Rowling had produced her Harry Potter sequels in a glass studio with fans looking on and banging the windows whenever she typed something they didn't like (Gary Greenberg, 4/9).

The Washington Post: Eating Made Her Sick, But It Took Doctors Years To Figure Out Why
A year after her daughter's stomach problems began, Margaret Kaplow began having pains of her own. When she sat down to dinner with her family, Kaplow's gut would clench involuntarily as she waited to see if this was one of the nights Madeline would eat a few bites before putting down her fork, pushing away from the table and announcing, "I don't feel good." For nearly six years, Maddie Kaplow's severe, recurrent abdominal pain, which began shortly before her 13th birthday, was attributed to a host of ailments (Sandra G. Boodman, 3/25).

Health Affairs: Tackling The Weight Of The World
Working with an obese young woman in Gabon prompts US medical and public health fellows to seek solutions to obesity and its related health problems in the developing world. … We were intrigued by Marie's case. Her condition was familiar to us because we had trained in the United States, where diet-linked chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes are pervasive. But it was strange to see a morbidly obese young woman being treated in the same hospital where one of us was also developing a protocol for the nutritional needs of undernourished children. The world's rapidly changing caloric and nutritional imbalance—evident in the fact that the number of obese people worldwide is now estimated to exceed the number with malnutrition—was brought vividly home to us (Laura M. Blinkhorn and Mascha A. Davis, April 2013).

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