Science Education & Policy

The wage gap between government employees and the private sector is already large and growing. Now there will be a gap in benefits due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) also.

Employees working for Fortune 500 companies can expect to pay higher employee contributions for their health insurance, according to a survey of chief human resource officer.

Patrick Wright, a professor in strategic human resource management at the University of South Carolina, directs the annual the HR@Moore Survey of Chief HR Officers. The survey is distributed to more than 560 CHROs of Fortune 500 companies and members of HR Policy Association, a professional organization. 

The United States is one of few wealthy nations without national or socialized health care and, as a result, the Hippocratic Oath has always been paramount. Even when it hasn't been efficient, doctors have tried to save and extend lives.

As a result, the US health care system is not culturally prepared to deal with patients nearing the end of life and their families.

A 21-member
Institute of Medicine

Australia's coast is famous around the world - but rising sea levels are poised to make things a lot less fun. Credit: Adam J.W.C./Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

By Martin Rice; John Hunter, University of Tasmania; Lesley Hughes, and Will Steffen, Australian National University

America leads the world in adult science literacy, science output and social media. That means broad social networks.

And it means, unless some field of science is your particular hot-button issue, the US is doing better in science acceptance than every other country, and spending time and money doing awareness is not really helping much.

Is this really necessary? Credit: EPA

By John Weeks, SOAS, University of London

The Obama administration has proposed several ad hoc multi-country economic agreements, and in doing so has abandoned de facto the World Trade Organization (WTO) as insufficiently malleable to its interests. The two most important of these are the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the more recent Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The use of unnecessary medical tests and procedures driven by a fear of malpractice lawsuits, commonly known as 'defensive medicine', has been estimated to cost up to $46 billion annually in the U.S. 

It used to be that we didn't want medical decisions being made by insurance companies, and instead they became dictated by lawyers. 

For a recent paper, the authors estimated the cost of defensive medicine on three services – tests, procedures or hospitalizations – by asking physicians to estimate the defensiveness of their own orders. The authors invited 42 hospital physicians to complete a survey, which 36 physicians did and rated 4,215 orders for 769 patients in the research letter.  

If bloggers are journalists, should they all benefit from the same legal protections? Credit: Jonathan Ah Kit/Flickr

By Jane Johnston

A New Zealand High Court judgment handed down on Friday will have far-reaching implications for journalists and bloggers, as courts around the world consider the rapidly changing definitions of journalism.

There was a time when medicine was considered 'at all costs' but the costs were a lot lower. With malpractice attorneys on call and 'defensive medicine' to include every test so that during fact-finding all of the bases are covered, costs have skyrocketed.

But governments that fund health care want to get the most effective treatment for the money. Both the vaguely defined "pre-diabetes" and hypertension drugs for low-risk people are worrying trends. In a new paper, Dr. Stephen Martin and colleagues urge clinicians to be cautious about treating low risk patients with blood pressure lowering drugs.

The Tangshanpeng Wind Farm in China. Credit: Flickr/Land Rover Our Planet, CC BY-SA

By John Mathews and Hao Tan, University of Newcastle

The Obama administration recently began claiming that the unemployment rate had dropped to 6.1 percent, evidence that its economic policies were working. Yet over 90 Americans of working age are unemployed or working at low paying jobs outside their fields. How can they both be correct? 

Estimating the unemployment rate has become more difficult than in the past - because the definition of unemployment has changed and so has the design of metrics to track it. Millions of people cannot get unemployment benefits because they have been out of work too long, for example. To the government, that means they are not unemployed, even though they clearly are. Others have taken part-time jobs.