In this week’s article, Atlantic writer Ester Bloom describes how difficult it can be to get health insurance coverage for a newborn baby, from personal experience. Bloom describes the bureaucratic red tape that would have left her newly arrived child without health insurance coverage for over a month, had she not been willing to pay (steeply) out of pocket. Despite obvious literacy with the health insurance system, the author was unable to obtain proper coverage from New York state health insurance exchanges, Child Health Plus, or the author’s own health insurance company.
Read the full article here: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/difficulty-of-getting-health-insurance-for-a-newborn/484568/
Since the advent of modern warfare, subsets of returning soldiers have suffered from memory loss, cognitive problems, inability to sleep, and profound, often suicidal, depression. Historically, these symptoms were attributed to emotional turmoil evoked by the trauma of war. Recent studies, however, reveal compelling evidence that these symptoms may in fact be caused by physical brain damage resulting from explosive blasts. Over the past 15 years, 350,000 American service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, a statistic that is likely an underestimate.
A 2010 post-mortem study of blast-injured soldiers who died long after blast exposure revealed a common and distinctive pattern of tiny scars in areas of the brain corresponding to the centers for sleep and cognition. These physical findings differ from damage caused solely by concussions, which can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy. There are several hypotheses about the source of this scarring pattern, including theories that blasts cause damaging surges of blood to the brain, or compression waves that change speed when encountering different densities. Another study investigated the cumulative effects of small blasts on SWAT instructors and trainees, finding that instructors, who are exposed to more blasts, had a small but distinct decline on neuropsychological tests.
In light of recent findings, the military is starting to shift their outlook on the seriousness of blast exposure. Initial changes within the military include increased screening for brain injury, mandated removal of concussed soldiers from combat, and the requirement for soldiers to wear blast gauges that turn red when exposed to forces equal to the lower limit of possible concussion or brain injury.
Read the full article
In today’s Article of the Week published in “in-Training,” a fellow medical student explores physicians’ roles in the epidemic of gun violence in this country. Looking to our physician leaders, particularly those elected to federal government, the author calls for these physicians to remember their obligations as members of the medical profession and address this problem.
In an editorial at the end of 2015, the New York Times decried the “moral outrage” of lax gun laws in the face of so many deaths from gun violence, but gun-related morbidity and mortality does not have firm standing as a public health issue. For twenty years, CDC funding for the study of gun violence has been explicitly prohibited by federal law, a law that over 100 medical groups are currently lobbying Congress to change. Despite this roadblock, a recent study published in the Lancet analyzing firearm-related mortality in the United States called for universal background checks, among other interventions.
Read a medical student’s opinion about what the medical profession can do better, and what we as medical students can do about it:
Article: Gun Violence in the United States: A Missed Opportunity for Physician Leadership