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THCB Reader -- Mental health, DOAs & tests. Interviews galore (Big Health, Wheel, Vida, Headspace, Summus, Infermedica & more). Matthew's tidbits on what insurance is

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THCB Reader

January 31 · Issue #140 · View online

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


This week on THCB Reader, we have lots of interviews for you - so scroll down for those! On the article front, Ben Wheatley talks about decriminalizing mental health crises, and Kim Bellard tells us how DAOs may rescue Healthcare and that COVID testing is a test of our healthcare system — one that we failed.
Now for the interviews. We have three episodes of Health Tech Deals, where Jess and I chat about Lyra Health’s Series F and several other deals in the health tech space. On THCB Spotlight, I interview Summus Global CEO Julie Flannery to talk about the future of virtual care. I also chat with Infermedica’s CEO, Piotr Orzechowski, and Chief Product Officer Tim Price. On WTF Health, Jess DaMassa has got lots of interviews for you. She chats with Wheel’s CEO Michelle Davey on their $150M raise and with Big Health’s CEO Peter Hames after their $75M investment from Softbank. Jess also catches up with Roberto Ascione, conference Chairman and CEO of Healthware Group, about his newly released book, “The Future of Health,“ and with Vida Health’s new CMO - Dr. Patrick Carroll, who just left Hims & Hers. If you were wondering how the Ginger-Headspace Combo is really going to market, Jess speaks with Headspace Health CEO Russell Glass. She also talks about using health innovation to combat disinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine with Emory University Professor Carlos del Rio and Editorial Director at 120/80 MKTG Jon Reiner.
#THCBGang this week featured regulars medical historian Mike Magee (@drmikemagee) and writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard), and TWO special guests - Shantanu Nundy (@DrNundy), CMO of Accolade, who wrote this week in JAMA about “advancing health equity” as a new part of the “quintuple aim”, and Janae Sharp (@CoherenceMed) from the Sharp Index, which is dedicated to increasing awareness of and reducing physician suicide and burnout. Were we ever going to be able to cover everything about physician burnout and health equity in just one hour? Yes, it was unlikely but we gave it our best shot!
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 was reminded on Twitter that many Americans really don’t understand health insurance. A spine surgeon no less in this thread (no jokes about arrogance please) was telling me that he was paying ~$8,000 a year ($4,000 in insurance and $4,000 in deductible) before he got to “use” his insurance–which, as his medical costs were low, he never did. Others were complaining that the cost of employee premiums were over $20K. They all said they should keep the money and (presumably) pay cash when they do use the system. It’s true that most people don’t use their insurance. That’s the whole point. When you buy house insurance, you don’t expect your house to burn down. You are paying into a pool for the people whose house does burn down.
In the US we are on average spending $12k per person on health care each year. But spending on most people is way under that and for a few it’s way, way over. If you take the rough rule that 50% of the spending is on 10% of the people then 35 million people account for $2 trillion in spending–that’s ballpark $60,000 each. They are the ones with cancer, heart disease, complex trauma, etc, etc. The rest of us are “paying” our $4,000, $8,000 whatever, into the pool to cover that $60,000.
There are only two ways to lower that cost for the healthy who aren’t “using” their insurance. One is to exclude unhealthy people from that insurance pool, which makes the costs for everyone else much less. We did that for years with medical underwriting and it was nuts because it screws over the unhealthy. Fixing the pre-existing condition exclusions was the only bit of Obamacare everyone agrees on–even Trump. But now we are ten plus years into this new reality, some people have forgotten how bad it was before.
The other way is to reduce the costs in the system and lower that $4 trillion overall. How to do that is a much longer question. But it isn’t much connected to the concept of insurance.
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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The Videos!
From Jess DaMassa & WTF Health...
Big Health’s Softbank Money, FDA Board Member Send Strong Signals About Digital Therapeutics Market
Inside Wheel’s $150M Series C: CEO Talks "Long Game" for Stealthy Virtual Care Infrastructure Biz
Vida Health Hires New Chief Medical Officer from Hims & Hers: A Sign ‘Scripts’ Are Coming Soon?
Headspace Health Merger Update: First Look at the Ginger-Headspace Combo
The Covid Vaccine’s PR Crisis: Health Innovation vs Disinformation
Writing the Book on Digital Health: Roberto Ascione on “The Future of Health”
#HealthTechDeals - Episodes 3-5
TigerConnect, Verana Health, Waymark, Formel Skin, and RCM
Wheel, Topography Health, Lyra, and more
#HealthTechDeals Episode 5: Wellster, Casana, Babylon, and Atlas Health
THCB Spotlight Presents, with Matthew Holt:
Infermedica raises a big round and demos new product
Interview & Deep Dive into Summus
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 16,000 people get it and 80-100K visit the blog every month!
Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt
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