The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 960: Mastering the Maze of Health Care Bureaucracy

Patients' frustration with health insurance restrictions is matched by that of doctors seeking prior authorization for essential patient care.
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Mastering the Maze of Health Care Bureaucracy

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Most of us have experienced the frustration of a phone tree that seems designed to keep us from speaking to the person who could actually do what needs to be done. Have you ever considered the impact of an insurance pre-authorization requirement on a physician’s work day? We speak with Dr. Danielle Ofri about a particularly difficult experience. How have you been able to manage the maze of insurance or other bureaucratic details to get the health care you need?

Low-carb diets and low-fat diets have been tested head to head in a recent small trial. Which one came out ahead? Let us know what diet plan you prefer.

Doctors have found a novel technology to help surgeons visualize tumors so they can be completely removed. It is based on a compound in scorpion poison. Dr. Jim Olson tells us about this tumor paint and the citizen science funding that makes it possible.

Call in your questions and comments at 888-472-3366 or email between 7 and 8 am EDT.

Guests: Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, practices medicine at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her books include Medicine in Translation: Journeys with my Patients; Incidental Findings: Lessons from my Patients in the Art of Medicine; and Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue.

James Olson, MD, PhD, holds the Sarah Hughes Chair for Pediatric Oncology and is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington. He is attending physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and member of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center. His website is

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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It appears that we can no longer download the show on the following Monday. This past weekend’s show is not here and I don’t see an easy download link anywhere. Am I missing something?

We are working on re-establishing the links to our podcast and returning to our new show for download every Monday schedule. Thank you for your patience while our web team tackles this issue.

Go Wolverines! (U. of M Aerospace Engineering, 1979)
You discussed a small study which showed an advantage of low-carb versus low-fat diet for weight loss. However, both “low carb” and “low fat” are very incomplete characterizations of diet. You can eat a low-fat diet full of sugar and white flour that will do little to address obesity or Type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, you can, as I do, eat a “whole foods plant based” diet, which is very low in fat, very high in fiber, and rich in all the healthy compounds contained in fruits and vegetables. This is pretty close to a miracle diet, promoting rapid and sustained weight loss, curing Type 2 diabetes, and partially reversing atherosclerosis, as demonstrated in the work of Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., Dr. Dean Ornish, Prof. Collin Campbell, Dr. John A. McDougall, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and others.

I’m voting NO on your new format. It is much more difficult to read and navigate than the old one. I’ve subscribed for years, but this new approach is virtually useless.

I am totally lost with this format..Unable to access any information… Podcasts… I hope this is a temporary setback..Thank you

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