Can a GOOD Company Cut the Cost of Health Care?

Health care is costly because there isn't enough information for consumers. One GOOD Company has plans to change all that.

Why is health care in this country so expensive? David Cutler, a health care economist at Harvard University, offers a partial answer: People don’t know enough about which physicians and hospitals provide quality care at a good price.

“Within a market, lack of good quality data means that consumers have a difficult time determining which providers are better and worse,” Cutler wrote in a 2010 paper. If consumers can’t figure out whether they’re getting good care, providers don’t have much incentive to compete—one reason why there’s no correlation between the price of care and its quality.

Imagine if you were trying to buy a car, but had no idea whether different models provided more or less fuel efficiency, and the cost of the car was unrelated to its quality—a really expensive car could be worse than a cheap one! It would be hard to make the right choice, but that’s exactly how we approach health care today.

In an effort to fix this, Castlight Health, a GOOD Company finalist, has developed a software platform that allows people to make smarter choices in the health care arena.

“We want to make comparison shopping for health care online as easy as comparison shopping for other services, like travel or books,” says Ethan Prater, Castlight's vice president for product marketing. "When [employers] find out that cost and quality don’t correlate in health care, they find out, 'wow, I can also get my employees better health care at lower cost.'"

Castlight is currently working with Safeway grocery stores, which provides health insurance directly to its employees, and several other large, self-insuring businesses, to develop its model. Their software allows companies to choose insurance options that share more costs with employees, but also gives them the tools to find lower cost care.

“You might type 'cholesterol' test or 'John Muir Hospital' or 'kid with fever,'" Prater says,"and we’ll show you providers who can treat that condition or who match what you’re looking for, the cost of that provider, the quality of that provider, [and] how many procedures of this type they’ve done compared to others in the network or others in the state."

That comparison can make a real difference: In the San Francisco Bay Area, where Castlight is headquartered, the cost of a colonoscopy can range from $650 to $5,250. The service is most effective at these “commodity procedures”—highly standardized tests and examinations, rather than emergency treatment or long-term management of diseases—although the company is developing tools to help manage complex conditions like diabetes, including medication, outpatient visits, and even inpatient surgeries.

Castlight hopes to put its tools to work for companies that don’t handle their own insurance and to integrate its systems into major health care plans, in an effort to reduce the amount of money everyone—businesses, individuals, and the government—spends on care while encouraging innovation.

“Consumerism tends to lead to good things in certain industries, it tends to make prices go down and quality go up,” Prater says. “Saving money on health care is an awesome way to have a great business, but what drives the company is the mission of getting information in the hands of consumers.”

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Images_of_Money

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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