Well, there's at least one good thing about the country's inability to control health costs. If you can write a compelling essay about a problem, you could win a thousand bucks.
Not to be outdone by health care inflation itself, this year's contest sponsored by the nonprofit group Costs of Care is awarding four prizes, up from two last year.
The group, founded by a young doctor and a group of medical consultants, has the goal of teaching physicians to be more aware of the economic aspects of health care. Or, more specifically, illuminating how the decisions doctors make affect what their patients wind up paying.
Last year's prize-winning essays, one each from a patient and a clinician, told the story of a pregnant immigrant who spent her family's food budget on ultrasound exams and a graduate student who couldn't afford a blood test to properly diagnose a sinus infection.
This year the group is offering two categories each for patients and health care providers: The good and the bad. So essays are invited that either demonstrate how being aware of the cost of medical care led to "high value care or cost savings," or that show how "lack of cost-awareness led to an unexpectedly high bill, or difficulty figuring out how much a test or treatment would cost."
The essays, which can be no longer than 750 words, will be judged by an all-star panel that includes former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, former Michigan Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.
The deadline is Nov. 15.