The Media and Health Care Inflation

This week’s On the Media (NPR) starts with four (count 'em) stories on the media’s obsession with health care, and how this drives up costs in the United States.  The first reviews the breathless accounts of the next medical advance that will make lives better (but might omit the fact that it’s only been tested so far in a half dozen rats.)  The second is an interview with one of the more sober media commentators, Dr. Jonathan LaPook of CBS Evening News.  The third is about Cyberchondria, and how easy it is to self-diagnose on the web and believe that a muscle twitch is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The last interview notes that there are over 400 national awareness days, weeks and months sanctioned by the government (and countless more that are unsanctioned)—leaving us with awareness fatigue.    

I drive by a bus shelter in Cambridge that suggests if you “look so good but feel so bad” you might have lupus.   A truly awful disease – and hard to diagnose too.  I would actually trust google more than a bus shelter, though, as a tool to help empower patients with information to better treat themselves.