Health News Roundup

Mental illness in America’s jails, Comcast’s innovative approach to employee health insurance, and more

mental health

Horrific deaths, brutal treatment: Mental illness in America’s jails
Gary A. Harki, The Virginian-Pilot, September 1
The Virginian-Pilot tracked the cases of 404 people with mental illness who have died in America’s jails since 2010. The total number is likely much larger, but it’s untraceable – what little information the federal government keeps on jail deaths does not accurately track the mental health of inmates.

health reform

The last company you would expect is reinventing health benefits
Reed Abelson, The New York Times, August 31
Comcast, which spends roughly $1.3 billion a year on health care for its 225,000 employees and families, has steered away from some of the traditional methods other companies impose to contain medical expenses. It rejected the popular corporate tack of getting employees to shoulder more of the rising costs and embraced some innovative approaches — providing employees with health care navigators and lowering deductibles to $250.

public health

What the experts want us to know about public health
Austin Frakt and Aaron E. Carroll, The New York Times, September 4
Experts weigh in what they think we should be doing in public health. One theme that emerged was that we could do a lot more in addressing disparities across race and class. “Public health needs to take a leadership role in confronting and influencing the social, political and economic factors that determine population health,” said Sandro Galea, the Robert A. Knox professor and dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health. “The patterns of disease and death track along this nation’s deep divides of race and income,” said Mary Travis Bassett, the former New York City health commissioner.


A medical school tradition comes under fire for racism
Mara Gordon, NPR, September 5
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai put a moratorium on student nominations for the honor society Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) because they determined the selection process discriminates against students of color. The award is open to the top 25 percent of a medical school’s graduating class and can be a valuable career boost, making students more competitive for desirable residencies and jobs. Icahn administrators say the disparities in the selection process reflect deeper issues of racial inequality in medical education.


24 percent of Hartford area residents have pre-existing health problem
Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror, August 30
Nearly one-in-four residents of the Hartford metropolitan area have a pre-existing medical condition that might make it difficult for them to obtain insurance coverage for that illness if a key provision in the Affordable Care Act is overturned, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study released this week.