New York Times Magazine Publishes Several Articles About U.S. Health Care System Concerns
The New York Times Magazine on Sunday included several articles about the nation's health care system and medicine. Summaries appear below.
- "Now Can We Talk About Health Care?": Ten years after her failed attempt to create a national health plan, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the magazine's cover story addresses problems facing the health care system, including "soaring health costs," an aging population, "skyrocketing numbers of uninsured," a "seriously flawed" finance system and globalization. Clinton describes how "[e]ach vaunted scientific breakthrough brings with it new challenges to our health system," such as the introduction of genetic testing and its potential use by insurers to discriminate against members for preexisting or genetic conditions (Rodham Clinton, New York Times Magazine, 4/18). NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday" interviewed Clinton about her proposals for health care reform (Simon, "Weekend Edition Saturday," NPR, 4/17). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. Expanded NPR coverage of Clinton's interview is available online.
- "Why Were Doctors Afraid to Treat Rebecca McLester?": With regard to the care provided for 10-year-old patient who contracted monkeypox last June, the Times Magazine examines how the appearance of unfamiliar and infectious diseases such as AIDS and SARS have made a new medical generation "wrestle with old questions" about the safety of their profession, whether they must treat affected patients and the consequences of deciding to treat or not to treat such patients (Reynolds, New York Times Magazine, 4/18).
- "The Writing Cure": The Times Magazine looks at narrative medicine, which "imports terms from literature to describe the doctor-patient relationship." In narrative medicine, doctors call a patient's explanation of their symptoms an "illness narrative," which "can be interpreted just like a literary text: by examining the presentation of character, the structure of the tale and the plot of the disease." Regardless of the diagnosis, what is "central is the telling and receiving of the tale" -- listening without interrupting, as if a patient were a character giving a soliloquy, according to Dr. Rita Charon, director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University and leader of the narrative medicine movement, the Times Magazine reports (Thernstrom, New York Times Magazine, 4/18).
- "Singled Out": A couple describes their efforts to find individual health insurance "while we were in our early 40's and healthy" enough to be accepted into the individual coverage market. However, Blue Cross of California denied them coverage, suggesting they apply to the state's "major risk" insurance program. The article also addresses their subsequent appeal of the denial of coverage and insurers' explanations for such decisions (Miller/Miller, New York Times Magazine, 4/18).
- "The End of Primary Care": Dr. Lisa Sanders, a faculty member of Yale University's primary care program, considers the possibilities that "the idea of the personal physician is out of date" and primary care's future may be "in danger." For example, Sanders writes that applications to primary care degree programs have "plummeted"; the number of primary care residency programs have dropped by more than 33% in the past 10 years; existing primary care residency programs have shrunk; and patients, "even those with insurance, are voting with their feet, increasingly choosing to visit emergency rooms and specialists directly" (Sanders, New York Times Magazine, 4/18).