Once upon a time, we used to get mail delivery three or four times a day. Of course, we were also wearing wigs and dying of typhus but that’s not the point. Mail delivery has been a steadily evolving process and the next step in that evolution is: no Saturday delivery. And look: we’re going to be fine. You’re not really getting anything important in the mail in the first place. And that one lady at the post office near my house was super mean to me once so I’m glad.
Time Magazine is running a piece on their blog that suggests that the price of healthcare in the United States is a culprit in our bittersweet goodbye to Saturday mail: “Since 2006, the Post Office has been legally required to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees at a cost of around $5.5 billion a year. For the first time last year, it defaulted on its annual payment.”
It’s a nice, tidy idea. And there is a lot to discuss about why the Post Office was put into a position of having to prefund a line item that almost no other government or business agency has to. (The corollary is an interesting discussion piece, too: what if all business had to pre-fund benefits like that?) I’ll leave it up to you to make up your own mind as to how much healthcare is to blame for the downsizing of a system that isn’t as necessary in today’s paradigm.
What else does Friday bring us, news-wise?
- Get Your “Congratulations!” Cards Re-Ready: “President Barack Obama on Thursday renominated one of his top healthcare advisers to lead the federal agency responsible for overseeing Medicare, Medicaid and the implementation of his 2010 healthcare reform law.”
- Making Room at the Table: “Adding health industry people to boards is one way for mobile network operators to get ready for a future where more of their new business comes from from connecting up things other than phones or tablets.”
- Get Rich Quick Plans: “Healthcare deals will rebound this year after a weak 2012, with providers of innovative technologies, cancer treatments and diagnostics being the most likely targets.”
- “Plan B: Shrug Shoulders”: “A surprising 65% of small business owners polled by Newtek Business Services said they have not come up with a strategy to manage their healthcare costs over the next 12 months.”
- Cartoon Characters Are the Future of Healthcare, or: We’re All Doomed: “In 2007, an animated character named Louise was designed to communicate discharge plans to patients with low health literacy in an effort to reduce the number of adverse events experienced after these patients left the hospital. The use of Louise, also known as a Virtual Patient Advocate (VPA), proved to be effective in reducing readmission rates, and now researchers have started using avatars to improve preconception care.”