Transparency and consequences: The roundup

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The business of the U.S. Government is mostly insurance and the military, writes Ezra Klein in the Washington Post, with a truly alarming chart. More.

Dozens of recent medical studies show that Medicaid patients suffer for having it. In some cases, they’d do just as well without health insurance. Scott Gottlieb, The Wall Street Journal. More.

Not so fast, writes Austin Frakt, the Incidental Economist. More.

When it comes to Medicare, if  the severity of patient sickness and special local expenses are taken into account, some high-spending  areas flip from profligate to average or even frugal, according to the calculations from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Jordan Rau, on NPR’s health blog. More.

Medicare spending per beneficiary, Kaiser Health News, from the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Find your locale.

Calls for increased price transparency in health care are among the few areas of general agreement. But the wrong kind of transparency could actually harm patients, rather than help them. David Cutler, Ph.D., and Leemore Dafny, Ph.D., in the New England Journal of Medicine. More.

What will your operation cost? A primer from the American College of Surgeons. More.

Do you really need that MRI of your lower back? “Studies have shown that radiology tests (x-ray, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging) are beneficial only if the pain worsens despite initial care or if patients have signs of nerve damage or a serious medical condition. Such signs include weight loss, fever, abnormal reflexes, or loss of muscle power or sensation in the legs. Although most patients with low back pain do not need radiology tests, many patients get them.” Recommendations from the American College of Physicians. More.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly 50 million Americans under age 65 are uninsured. Strategies and tips for the uninsured from  insure.com. More