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THCB Reader -- Jan 18, 2022


THCB Reader

January 18 · Issue #139 · View online

Everything you always wanted to know about the health care system. But were afraid to ask.

On THCB Reader this week, we’ve got some catching up to do after the holidays. Ian Morrison rings in the new year with his 22 oldest jokes and why they still matter in 2022, George Halvorson expands on his argument with the stance of Berwick and Rick Gilfillan on Medicare Advantage, and then tells more in part 2. Kim Bellard pulls from the Simpsons to say that our New Year’s resolution should be no more healthcare D’ohs and urges us to design our healthcare system for the Waste Age, Henry Mahncke discusses how digital health interventions can reduce fall risk, and I go through the process of paying a “simple” medical bill after my last physical.
Now for some interviews. Jess DaMassa has two big interviews on WTF Health with Glen Tullman on Transcarent’s valuation soaring past $1B, and Amy Abernethy of Verily’s analysis of what’s ahead in health tech policy. On THCB Spotlight, I chat with Nate Maslak, CEO of Ribbon Health after his $40m round from General Catalyst and Andreesen Horowitz. We also have our very last episode of Health in 2 Point 00 before we changed the name — AND the new launch of the completely new (in name at least!) Health Tech Deals with two episodes! (Scroll down for all that).
Finally, #THCBGang this week featured the double trouble of vaunted futurists Ian Morrison (@seccurve) & Jeff Goldsmith, and medical historian Mike Magee (@drmikemagee) for an hour of conversation and banter about the health care system, the world in politics, and whether “Don’t Look Up” is a spoof or a documentary. Really good stuff, especially from Jeff on whether Medicare pays enough to keep hospitals alive. (Spoiler alert–he doesn’t think so!)
Don’t forget to listen any time—you can subscribe to #THCBGang and #HealthTechDeals podcasts with an easy click on Apple or Spotify.

For my health care tidbits this week, I’m bringing up one point that was raised in #THCBGang. Jeff Goldsmith and Mike Magee collectively summed up that the main role of the health care system is to reduce fear and worry, and create trust. Our conversation applied this to Medicare Advantage, the use of digital health tools by health systems, and the expansion of Medicaid. And it’s worth remembering that when there was a “natural experiment”–the expansion of Medicaid to some but not all of similar populations in Oregon in the 2000sthe only difference between the two groups was a massive reduction in anxiety among those who got into Medicaid.
Yes, not having access to health care (or being able to pay for it) is more likely to make you anxious. I’ve always said that universal health care is more about the wealth of Americans then the health of Americans. The difference between being financially OK if you need health care and being close to (or actually) bankrupt is very close–especially among the bottom 30-40% of Americans. They’re the ones with tenuous access to employer-based health insurance or, in many states, Medicaid. While the ACA helped some, it didn’t help that many in the lower middle class for many years (especially before the recent bump in subsidies) and it didn’t help many in the non-expansion states.
Many of us thought that the Democratic sweep in 2020 was going to extend that protection from fear and worry permanently across health and other aspects of social care. But thanks to Manchin & Sinema, it’s not to be. This doesn’t bode well for America, and sadly with 2022 coming up, the nation’s political climate seems to have moved on.
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Follow me on Twitter @boltyboy and THCB at @thcbstaff for more similar insights/nonsense (and even the occasional sensible idea)! Enjoy! – Matthew Holt
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One Drop is reimagining chronic condition care. Learn more at
One Drop is reimagining chronic condition care. Learn more at
Transcarent’s Valuation Soars Past $1B. Hear Why Glen Tullman Says It’s More Than Worth It.
Futurecasting with Amy Abernethy: Verily, Real-World Data, Clinical Trials & Health Policy in 2022
Health in Two Point 00 - The LAST Episode (247)
#HealthTechDeals Episode 1: Transcarent, Medically Home, Vera Whole Health, Stryker, and more
#HealthTechDeals Episode 2: DexCare, Avaneer Health, Deepscribe, Little Otters, and Ianacare
Nate Maslak, CEO Ribbon Health
Hope you enjoyed the newsletter. As ever let me know if you have any comments or want to sponsor/advertise–this newsletter doesn’t write itself but about 17,000 people get it and 80-100K visit the blog every month!
Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt
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