Vik Khanna & Al Lewis In The News & On The Web

We’re here, we’re there, we’re everywhere. In fact, we cannot think of a single other recent issue on which a conservative publication (The Federalist) and liberal media outlets (NPR and The LA Times) have agreed so clearly in such a short span of time.

Society for Human Resources Management, December 18, 2014

Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2014

Insurance Thought Leadership, December 14, 2014

The Federalist, December 9, 2014

NPR, December 9,  2014

The LA Times, December 2, 2014

The Incidental Economist, December 2, 2014

Health Affairs, November 25, 2014

Your Personal Affordable Care Act | How To Avoid Obamacare

ebook_6x9_v4 with blue stripe after pixel check (1) The most creative, assertive, and unyielding take down of Obamacare is available now as an e-book in the Kindle marketplace and at Read and enjoy! (Watch the video here.)

 From John Irvine, Executive Editor of The Health Care Blog: “If you haven’t met Vik Khanna, you need to. Your health may depend on it. Packed with invaluable advice that will arm you with the tools and the strategies you’ll need to stay as far away from the healthcare industry as humanly possible, you’ll find yourself turning to Vik’s book again and again. Both thumbs up!!

 From Health Economist Al Lewis: “As Vik writes, the only hope we have of fixing the healthcare industry is to fix ourselves, and that is something hospitals, doctors, and health plans cannot do for us. For both the healthcare industry’s long-term sustainability and our individual successes and sanity, we must reacquaint ourselves with the importance of executing the fundamentals well – regular exercise, healthy (or at least healthier) eating, not smoking, and managing our stresses – and doing so repeatedly. Just because you are not paranoid does not mean the healthcare industry is not out to get you.”

Your Personal Affordable Care Act | How To Avoid Obamacare.

Are some diets “mass murder”? | The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Three “excellent” resources on nutrition and healthy eating, and one of these immensely entertaining. Only two are “excellent” in a positive sense.

First: Are some diets “mass murder”? | The BMJ, a very good essay in the British Medical Journal on how modern dietary advice is mostly b.s., concocted by people who know little about nutrition but a lot about twisting facts.

Second, an example of the point made above. This is a press release from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggesting that you find a qualified “expert” to help you “eat right.” What nonsense. Some of the worst eating advice on the planet comes from people who call themselves nutrition or diet professionals, followed quite closely by the advice you get from most doctors who wouldn’t know a healthy eating pattern if it fell on their heads. You want to know how to eat healthy: look around you and identify a handful of people who you know and TRUST, who are fit, happy, energetic, and just power through their days with seemingly bottomless energy. Go ask them how they eat. More often than not, they will eat like I eat: a little of a lot of different (and mostly fresh, whole) foods, very few snacks, no soda, moderate alcohol, and awareness but not obsession about total calories consumed. There’s your strategy.

Third, a brilliant video on healthy eating by James McCormack of the University of British Columbia. He’s a professor of pharmacy, for Pete’s sake, whose video is more interesting and useful than the last 1,000 Tweets I’ve read from nutritionists, dietitians, Mehmet Oz, and Dean Ornish. Everything you need to know about healthy eating from someone not pitching for big business (nothing wrong with that as long as it is disclosed and you’re not hiding all your affiliations behind some fancy trade group name) and not trying to sell you anything.

Belly of The Beast, Episode 6

Ignorance is bliss

The customer service rep for my wife’s employer’s wellness vendor is IGNORING my question about why the server certificate is not secure. It is absolutely inexcusable for a server used by a wellness vendor to not be secure. As I noted before, both Google Chrome and my Internet security software warn me every time we visit the wellness portal that we should not go there because it is not a secure server.

A post-mortem for wellness programs: What went wrong? | Employee Benefit News

A home run by Linda Riddell, in today’s Employee Benefits Views.

A post-mortem for wellness programs: What went wrong? | Employee Benefit News.

Life expectancy increases globally as death toll falls from major diseases — ScienceDaily

This is important and good news for the health of people all over the world, but especially the poor in developing nations. A few nuances worth discussing:

  • The major progress cames from helping to reduce the impact of infectious diseases. Here in the West, this is a barrier we have mostly already passed, although because of our profligate use of antibiotics in both the clinic and agriculture, we run the risk of drug-resistant superbugs becoming a leading cause of death by 2050. Stop asking for an antibiotic every time you or your kid has a cold and, if you eat meat or dairy, buy products from animals raised without antibiotics.
  • Better prenatal care has reduced neonatal mortality.
  • Improved sanitation continues to play a crucial role for health in the developing world.

Notice that all the items above, which are having a huge impact in places around the globe where there is the most to gain, all help to keep people OUT of the medical care system. Meanwhile, here in the developed world:

  • Heart disease, cancer, diabetes are all still major culprits. Ironically, the article linked below bemoans the fact that the smallest improvements in mortality were seen in men aged 30 to 39 (who account for only about 4% of all deaths each year) and people over 80, who die with alarming frequency. Heart disease and cancer account for more deaths each year, because they are predominantly diseases of aging, and more people live long enough to develop them. Improvements in care are helping lower death rates from cancer or heart disease in older adults which means, of course, that they live long enough to die of something else. You do realize that no one gets out of here alive don’t you?

Nuance is lost on most people working in American healthcare, particularly those in workplace wellness. Lifestyle diseases don’t kill people until they are old, sometimes very old, and a lifestyle change forced on someone when they are 42 (the median age of the US workforce) is meaningless unless that person decides to sustain the healthy lifestyle until retirement and beyond. The things that make the most difference to health and longevity for populations are habits and tools that help to keep most people out of the medical care industry as often as possible for as long as possible. The things that help sick people (because illness and injury are both inevitable and often unpredictable) are interventions that are safe, efficient, effective, as unintrusive as possible, and dispensed on the basis of efficacy and value in the patient’s framework of what matters and not in the provider’s framework of what’s reimbursable.

Life expectancy increases globally as death toll falls from major diseases — ScienceDaily.

Obamacare Author: We Shouldn’t Have Passed Obamacare The Way We Did | The Daily Caller

Vik Khanna:

Senator Tom Harkin channels Vik Khanna.

Originally posted on Your Personal Affordable Care Act:

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who’s been Congress over 40 years and much of that time to no good purpose, almost literally articulates my analysis of Obamacare. It was too complex, too partisan, and really did not do much to improve the quality or efficiency of our healthcare system.

Thank you, Senator Harkin, for embracing the message of Your Personal Affordable Care Act.

via Obamacare Author: We Shouldn’t Have Passed Obamacare The Way We Did | The Daily Caller.

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Critics Challenge Corporate Wellness Program ROI

The Society for Human Resources Management has released an article highlighting the questionable claims of ROI that abound in wellness programs. More negative coverage for an industry that seemingly can’t get enough of it.

Critics Challenge Corporate Wellness Program ROI.

Glycemic index did not affect CV risk factors, insulin resistance | Endocrinology

Harvard study, done for NIH, slams value of glycemic index for reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors. Repeat after me: eat a balanced diet, along the lines of the DASH diet or Mediterranean Diet, know your caloric boundaries, don’t overdo anything, and exercise like your life depends in it, cuz it does. Other than that, stop obsessing and especially stop listening to self-absorbed, self-appointed nutrition experts mewling about how you are just a victim of big business. There is, literally, no shortage of healthy food on the planet, and if your diet is crap, the only thing victimizing you is you.

Glycemic index did not affect CV risk factors, insulin resistance | Endocrinology.

Men’s Health: 5 Reasons ANY Diet Can Work

Men’s Health: 5 Reasons ANY Diet Can Work.

Belly of the Beast, Episode 5

The customer service & the security

My wife and I visited an outpatient lab office on November 17 to have our biometrics done. The wellness vendor and lab company both promised that results would be ready in two weeks. We are now exactly one month past the biometrics date, and there is nothing posted to either of our wellness accounts.

Here is what’s worse: when we log into the wellness portal, both our browser (Chrome) and our PC’s Internet security/antivirus program warns us that the site does not have a valid security certificate, and that we should not go there. We have to manually override the warning. When we finally get to the site, the letter HTTPS in the URL have a bright red line through them, meaning that it is NOT a secure server.

This in inconceivable and incompetent for a company that is managing a treasure trove of personal information.

ADDENDUM: customer service emails us back to inform us that the biometrics were received 12/8/2014, but have not yet been recorded to our portal. This is, of course, absurd, because we all we are talking about is a file transfer that should be readily uploadable. Further, the customer service rep COMPLETELY ignores the very important query about why the server is not secure. We emailed back, demanding a response.

Feeling younger than actual age meant lower early death rate for older people, study finds — ScienceDaily

This article sort of confirms the obvious, but it’s still worth reading. The missing piece in the article is they don’t talk much about the things that MAKE you feel younger. First and foremost is exercise and fitness, because those things affect everything else, including your sense of optimism and outlook. Hell, at my current pace (57, feel 37), I might live to 120.

Feeling younger than actual age meant lower early death rate for older people, study finds — ScienceDaily.

Opinion: Affordable Care Act still allows questions about guns

Vik Khanna:

Gun owners are not out of the woods with regard to the Affordable Care Act and the use of healthcare professionals as the government’s enforcers. Statutory language notwithstanding, the President clearly intends that physicians become a conduit for gathering information on gun ownership.

Originally posted on Your Personal Affordable Care Act:

The Affordable Care Act actually contains language that, in a casual read, may make gun owners feel comfortable about whether the government’s private sector enforcers — wellness and disease management companies and health plans — can mine them for gun ownership data. All is not as it appears. The government specifically wants physicians to retain the flexibility to ask about gun ownership, and there are plenty of physicians who think it is their obligation to do so.

via Opinion: Affordable Care Act still allows questions about guns.

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Google Fit is a Great Fit

I don’t endorse products very often, but in the tumult over fitness apps and all they can for you, you can put me squarely in the camp of people who believe they are mostly worthless. Wearables like FitBit, FuelBand, and similar products from Polar, Garmin, etc., and apps like My Fitness Pal, are all the rage. I don’t use any of ‘em. Never have. The most sophisticated thing I use is a heart rate monitor for some of my cycling and running. I have noticed as I have gotten older, my approach to fitness metrics has matured and comes down to three things, none of which requires an app: is my waist trim (i.e., am I bigger larger that 32″ waist jeans); am I strong (how many dips, pull-ups, and kettlebell swings can I do), and how fast am I (cycling, running, and walking). No app needed to measure any of them.

I have, however found an app that is easy, fun, surprisingly accurate, and, best of all, free. The Google Fit app, which is available in the Google Play Store, works automatically whenever your phone is on. Because I tend to keep my phone in a pocket, it senses all my walking each day, as well as running and cycling. I set a goal of at least 1 hour of exercise daily, so I discount my around-the-house-walking, focusing on how much do I spend working out. I can manually add other activities, such as time spent practicing karate, lifting, or doing circuit training. A summary chart is available anytime I want to see one; my average exercise time each day is about 1.25 hours.

The only other thing I use is Google My Tracks, which is another free, phone-based app from Google that uses GPS to plot your outdoor exercise time. You can mate it with a heart rate monitor, if you wish. At the end of a run, I get a map showing my course and elevation, a chart showing my speed variation (and heart rate), and a summary data page with total time, time spent moving (important because it subtracts time spent cleaning up after my dogs), peak speed, average speed, and average moving speed. You really don’t need any other information.

These free apps are more than sufficient to support anyone’s exercise habit. If you are a competitive athlete, there are other data points you may want to have, but those folks are relatively few and far between. Why would you not start with these apps, which are free, easy to set up and use, work automatically in the case of Google Fit, very visual, have a simple user interface, and won’t overwhelm you with information that doesn’t add value? Don’t make building fitness harder than it already is. Focus on what you are doing, not what app you are using.

Vivek Murthy Is An Activist, Don’t Confirm Him For A Useless Position | The Daily Caller

Vik Khanna:

It’s time for Washington to take responsibility for itself. We don’t need another bloviating bureaucrat in office.

Originally posted on Your Personal Affordable Care Act:

Should Vivek Murthy be Surgeon General? I don’t think so. Why do we even need a Surgeon General in this day and age? It is a completely superfluous anachronism.

via Vivek Murthy Is An Activist, Don’t Confirm Him For A Useless Position | The Daily Caller.

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The Wellness Industry’s Terrible, Horrible No-Good Very Bad Week | The Health Care Blog

America’s stupidest and most dishonest industry, ooops, no that would the Congress. Ok, the second stupidest and most dishonest industry, poke-prod-pry wellness, is on the ropes. And, they are taking an awful beating. In fighting parlance, they will soon be down for the count.

The Wellness Industry’s Terrible, Horrible No-Good Very Bad Week | The Health Care Blog.

BMC Medicine | Full text | Electronic cigarettes have a potential for huge public health benefit

A very interesting article on e-cigarettes by a scientist in the U.K. See also the other link below, a study from Belgium showing that e-cigs dramatically reduce tobacco cravings. The upshot of both papers is that e-cigs are a worthwhile consideration if we want to get people off tobacco, and it will satisfy the user’s interests in getting their dose of nicotine.

Here is my dark kingdom view of why the alleged “health advocacy” community hates e-cigs. When the master tobacco settlement was signed in 1998, it essentially promised $10 billion per year in perpetuity to the states to punish tobacco companies for past misdeeds. It defines tobacco products as “Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.” E-cigs are not smokeless, they are tobacco-less. It is inconceivable that the definition in the document applies to e-cigs. If smokers switched en masse to e-cigs, tobacco sales would dry up, and so, too, would revenues to the states and the healthcare industry. See, there’s the rub: the healthcare industry hates tobacco companies, but it needs people to keep smoking, because its addiction to money is as bad as any smoker’s addiction to nicotine. Even worse, and I have said this before, the marketing and sales restrictions in the tobacco settlement apply only to the U.S. So, in other nations, mostly in the developing world, tobacco companies can go to town. It’s okay if people of color die to keep our cancer and heart disease industries rolling in cash. The most galling thing of all is that it is clear that these mostly not-for-profit and governmental thieves are wasting all this money, little of which has been used beneficially.

I frankly don’t care if adults make an informed choice to smoke. If you do, you should pay more for your health insurance because you are voluntarily engaging in a behavior that we know, beyond any doubt, raises your health risks. If you are that stupid, I don’t believe I have any obligation to protect you from yourself, but I also want you to take financial responsibility and, ahem, cough up the cash.

But, e-cigs could be a way out. Smokers get their nicotine, but the health risks are far less, and, consequently, less costly all the way around. Why aren’t we moving forward on structuring the market for e-cigs?

BMC Medicine | Full text | Electronic cigarettes have a potential for huge public health benefit.–+ScienceDaily%29

How horizontal gene transfer shakes up evolution – Ferris Jabr – Aeon

A capitivating article about how genes move between species.

How horizontal gene transfer shakes up evolution – Ferris Jabr – Aeon.

How risk factors drive medical overtreatment – Jeff Wheelwright – Aeon

This is OUTSTANDING article on the hazards of overtreatment, the zealous pursuit of people who are mostly low-risk using the false security of “prevention.” The most efficient way to utilize the medical care industry is to use it as little as possible and do all that you can to manage your modifiable risks through the time-tested tools of exercise, nutrition, sleep, and stress management. Enter the system ONLY when you are sick or when your family history or other risk factors lead you to an evidence-based conclusion that screening and risk assessments really are in your health interest and not in some healthcare provider’s economic interests.

How risk factors drive medical overtreatment – Jeff Wheelwright – Aeon.

Wellness At Work Often Comes With Strings Attached : Shots – Health News : NPR

Al’s excellent adventure on NPR’s All Things Considered. Nice work, Al.

Wellness At Work Often Comes With Strings Attached : Shots – Health News : NPR.

How Exercise Changes Your Brain To Be Better At Basically Everything | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

An excellent article on the benefits of exercise that should be required reading for every corporate leader and every HR executive. Fire your wellness vendors. Give people time and resources to exercise. Then, leave them alone to do their jobs.

How Exercise Changes Your Brain To Be Better At Basically Everything | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.


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