I love the guys at digital roam's "back of the napkin" blog. Their mission is to visualize issues and to eliminate jargon and technobabble so that the average person can make sense of complex issues. And that's a great mission.
But with all the talk about health reform lately, I am concerned that there are an awful lot of people trying to simplify the problem. And it just isn't simple. The back of the napkin gang has gotten one thing very right: That health reform isn't about health reform anymore; it's about health insurance reform.
Full disclosure; I work for an insurance company. It'll be no surprise to you that I think my company does a lot of good and adds a lot of value for a lot of people. I wouldn't work there otherwise. And there are clearly things that need to be reformed in the insurance (payor's) part of the healthcare equation just as there are on the parts of the doctors and patients (the napkins address the docs and payors in their analysis, but not-so-much on the patients). But the picture above shows how the back-of-the-napkin guys have simplified an issue so much that they have fundamentally changed reality. I'm going to assume that this is an error rather than a subtle way of using their bully pulpit to support their own viewpoint. But insurance didn't "jump between me and my doctor" to ration care. Your employer told your insurance company what it was willing to pay for. And that's just one, obvious example.
There's a quotation on this subject that I really like, and I wish I could remember who said it: "For every complex problem, there is a simple solution. And it's wrong."
That's where we are here. Both in the health reform "debate" [read: propaganda wars] and in the (presumably well-intentioned) back of the napkin summary, we're dumbing down a complex problem to the point where we're not actually educating anybody on anything.