Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 31 Edition

Affordable Care Act, Health Care, Enrollment

“Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15 this year. That’s 45 days, six weeks shorter than last year — and only one of the big changes consumers need to consider. The Trump administration has cut back on marketing and funding for navigators to help people through the process.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for 2018 coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
  1. The health law has NOT been repealed.
  2. The requirement for most people to have insurance — and most employers to offer it — is also still in effect.
  3. Like your mama said, you better shop around. 
  4. Cost will be a factor.
  5. Buyers should also beware.” 

Click on the article title for the details of each factor enumerated above.

Elections, Technology

“A bipartisan pair of U.S. senators plans to introduce legislation on Tuesday seeking to boost the cyber defenses of state election systems, after warnings from senior U.S. officials that future elections may be vulnerable to foreign interference.

The Securing America’s Voting Equipment, or SAVE, Act is the latest attempt by lawmakers to respond to what U.S. intelligence agencies say was a multi-pronged cyber operation, including hacking and online propaganda by Russia during the 2016 presidential election aimed at helping President Donald Trump. Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations.

The bill will be introduced by Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich and Republican Senator Susan Collins, a Heinrich spokeswoman said. It does not currently have other co-sponsors.

“Until we set up stronger protections of our election systems and take the necessary steps to prevent future foreign influence campaigns, our nation’s democratic institutions will remain vulnerable,” Heinrich said in a statement.”

Technology, Medical Care

"Toyota is introducing a new robotic leg brace called the Welwalk WW-1000 that can help patients with partial paralysis affecting one side of their body walk again. The robotic exoframe is worn on the affected leg, with a large motor component at the knee joint that provides just enough assistance to the patient, letting them recover their own walking ability therapeutically over time.

The robotic wearable is paired with a custom treadmill and a harness that is anchored above the patient, with medical staff able to watch and control the whole apparatus from a convenient touchscreen input device. The Associated Press reports that the Welwalk system will be made available to medical institutions in Japan later this year, with a rental model that charges a one-time fee of around $9,000 and then $3,200 after that on a monthly basis. Those costs are not overly burdensome by medial equipment standards, and the system could drastically reduce recovery time for patients overcoming partial paralysis resulting from conditions include strokes."

Opioid Addiction, Treatment

“These professionals are at ground zero for Vermont’s relatively new addiction treatment program, which is unique in its comprehensiveness. Their holistic approach to Tyler’s case is emblematic of Vermont’s strategy as a whole: a focus on the science and research, with a desire to get everyone — even patients who can prove to be very difficult — in treatment to save their lives.

It’s a time-consuming effort, but one that providers in the state enthusiastically participate in to push back against the deadliest overdose crisis in US history. This is, after all, a crisis that led to more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths nationwide in 2016. Opioid overdoses alone could kill as many as 650,000 — or more people than live in Vermont today — across the US in the next decade.

Tyler’s story shows big challenges remain, but Vermont’s effort appears to be working. According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the drug overdose death rate for New England was about 24.6 per 100,000 people in 2015 (the latest year of state-by-state data available), which was the highest for any region in the country. Yet Vermont was not only below the regional average at 15.8, but below even the national average of 16.3 — a fact that some people on the ground attribute in part to the state’s unique system, known as the hub and spoke.”

Success, Well-Being

“Research by psychologist Tim Kasser "has shown that the pursuit of materialistic values like money, possessions, and social status--the fruits of career successes--leads to lower well-being and more distress in individuals. It is also damaging to relationships," reports Esfahani Smith, who explains that the research shows that these damaged social bonds dent well-being. The article weaves in moving personal stories, literary references, and discussion of the debate around Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In to explore the issue in depth. It's well worth a read in full.

But Esfahani Smith isn't the only thinker who apparently feels this is an appropriate cultural moment to push the career oriented to think carefully about the tradeoffs they may be making. This week the blog Dumb Little Man advises those looking to be happier to not chase status.

"Your brain is wired not only to figure out where you sit in the professional and social pecking order against others, but to reinforce your position in that pecking order," says writer Steve Errey, who continues: "When you get wrapped up in establishing or maintaining status, the moment your place in the hierarchy drops you're going to feel pretty horrible... Don't get into the status game--there are no winners."

Elsewhere, legendary Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has warned that chasing short-term success often leads to soured relationships and regrets long term, while polarizing blogger Penelope Trunk frames the same debate in her characteristic absolutist terms, warning that you can have an interesting life or a happy one, but not both.

Trunk may present things in black and white, but when the question is fashioning a good life for yourself rather than attracting the maximum number of clicks to your post, the real takeaway is probably not an either/or choice but a question of shades of grey.”

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