It’s a New World (i.e., I’m a Dinosaur)

The internet has dramatically changed — and will continue to change — the world. At times, it makes me feel like a dinosaur. I’m not alone, but that doesn’t make it any better.

Two systems that are replete with dinosaurs are health care and education, although the former is well ahead of the latter in catching up to the 21st century (mainly because there is more money to be made in health care).

If you want to get a flavor for what I’m talking about, take a half hour and watch this presentation on internet trends by Mary Meeker.

Keeping up or, in my case, catching up, seems like an impossible task. My generation didn’t grow up with the internet. Yours will, Vera. Your parents’ generation was the trailblazing generation. I expect much more to come from that generation. I don’t have such high expectations from mine. I can’t begin to imagine what yours may deliver.

One disservice my generation and the Xers provide to younger folks is interpreting the world, and guiding kids, with a 20th-century mindset based on 20th-century experiences. In short, many of us fail to appreciate how the world has changed and is changing. Consequently, we’re preparing many of our children and grandchildren for a world that no longer exists. Fortunately, it’s hard to keep young people down. Many see what’s happening and are responding.

I came to believe that I’m not technologically savvy enough to do my students justice in the classroom. Few professors and teachers are. But that will change as the dinosaurs retire or expire. Until then, most of our schools and colleges will remain behind the curve. This is one of the most critical reasons no millennial should outsource his or her education to our formal education system.

Enough said! Watch Mary’s presentation and, if you’re really enticed, read her slides.

The Joy of Paying for Health Care

Two weeks ago I had an appointment with a health care provider. I didn’t actually need to see a doctor or other provider. But my insurance company requires an annual visit whether I need it or not. If I don’t comply, I don’t receive coverage for my sleep apnea treatment. Next year I’ll probably forgo the visit since it appears the cost of the annual visit exceeds the savings I derive from having coverage.

Such are the calculations one must make in America today. We have a truly screwed up health care system, which is essentially dominated by private insurance and pharmaceutical companies. So we end up paying more than any other people in the world, yet we die sooner and are generally unhealthier than our counterparts in other developed western countries.

The health care provider I saw says the system will change. He, too, is frustrated by our system, and in particular with insurance companies. I asked when. He said probably in 12 to 15 years, but he wasn’t sure meaningful change would come about in his lifetime.

I thought he was unduly optimistic. I reminded him of the extreme passivity of the American public. We are very tolerant of high-cost, underperforming systems. You see it in health care. You see it in education. We’re so convinced we have the best of everything (we’re #1, of course), we’re blinded to reality.

But I’m not complaining (even though it may seem like it). To the contrary, I’m sincerely grateful and delighted.

The scene when I checked out out of the doctor’s office makes my point. Continue reading