PREPARED PATIENT BLOG

Patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.


Six Things Health Care Stakeholders Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

CFAH Staff | December 23, 2014
In July, CFAH released its final report on the state of patient engagement in the U.S., Here to Stay: What Health Care Leaders Say about Patient Engagement, a collection of interviews with 35 key informants from seven groups with an interest in patient engagement. We asked health care leaders to define patient engagement, explore its impact and barriers, and share promising interventions. Six key themes emerged from our discussions...

When Facing a Serious Diagnosis, 'AfterShock' App Can Help

CFAH Staff | December 18, 2014
Receiving bad health news can spark great upheaval. It is a time when nothing seems certain and the future may look dark. Since its release this summer, the free AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis app has provided users with a basic roadmap through the first few days and weeks after a serious diagnosis, providing concise information and trusted resources to help regain a bit of control during this turbulent time. As one reviewer wrote, the AfterShock app is "a standard for empowered patients"...

Food Companies' Masterful Marketing at Odds With Consumers' Health

CFAH Staff | November 18, 2014
New options from Domino's, McDonald's and Pepsi are putting consumers' food choices to the test. Do we really want nacho-chips-flavored Mountain Dew? Probably not. But health advocates will have to step up their game to compete against these marketing powerhouses...

'Be a Prepared Patient' Gets a New Look

CFAH Staff | October 1, 2014
Finding good health care and making the most of it is critical for each of us. Yet all too often, reliable, unbiased information is hard to find and understand. On the redesigned Be a Prepared Patient website, we have collected trusted resources and tips to help people navigate their way through health and health care decisions and experiences...

Prepared Patient Now on Twitter

CFAH Staff | September 24, 2014
Today, CFAH launched @PreparedPatient, a new Twitter feed featuring trusted tips, resources, stories and news to help followers find good health care and make the most of it. Prepared Patient was created by the late Jessie Gruman and continues the themes of @JessieGruman tweets...

What Health Care Consultants Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

CFAH Staff | September 10, 2014
"At the end of the day, there is a growing recognition that we need people to take better care of themselves. Too much money is being spent on the consequences of unhealthy choices and on health care. We don't think that patient engagement is just the flavor of the week. The concept of how we can take more responsibility for our health and health care is not going away." – Janice Prochaska, PhD, President and CEO of Pro-Change Behavior Systems in South Kingstown, RI

The Use and Usefulness of Doctor Ratings

CFAH Staff | September 3, 2014
What's the best way to choose a new doctor? We can ask friends, family, or our current doctor for a referral. We can pick the provider who's closest to our home or office. We can look them up online and read their reviews. But research finds that online physician ratings are far from perfect...

What Patients Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

CFAH Staff | August 27, 2014
"There's a prevailing attitude on the side of clinicians that looking for and using [our own] information is not good behavior on our parts. I think that attitude is a big barrier; people don't want to be seen as troublemakers for asking too many questions, disagreeing with a clinician, or bringing information to the table." – Kelly Young – Patient Advocate, President of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, and Founder of Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior blog

What Health Insurers Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

CFAH Staff | August 20, 2014
"Most health plans view engagement as important and want to support it. But they recognize that they are only one (relatively weak) factor in supporting patient/consumer engagement... Their customers want their insurance premiums going to medical care, not a bunch of mailings about things they already know they should do..." – Arthur Southam, MD – Executive Vice President of Health Plan Operations, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Oakland, CA

What Policy Makers Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

CFAH Staff | August 13, 2014
"Since patients don't live in a vacuum, we must also involve the community in which patients live, work, and play. Community resources must be readily available to meet the needs of the population they serve. Also, as we begin to have patients and families engaged in their care and talk to peers and extended family members, they begin to model engagement to others. We are looking for 'engaged communities.'" - Jean Moody-Williams - Group Director, CMS Quality Improvement Group, Baltimore, MD

What Employers and Purchaser Representatives Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

CFAH Staff | August 6, 2014
"Employers have an opportunity to reduce barriers and support engagement because they sponsor health plans and can provide access to information, tools, technologies, incentives, and more. Employers have more ability to influence engagement than they often believe they have." – Michael Vittoria, Vice President, Corporate Benefits, MaineHealth, Portland, ME

Facing a Serious Diagnosis? 'AfterShock' Now an App

CFAH Staff | July 31, 2014
Receiving bad health news can spark great upheaval. It is a time when nothing is certain and the future looks dark. The new, free app 'AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis' offers a basic roadmap through the first few days and weeks, providing concise information and trusted resources to help you regain a bit of control during this turbulent time...

What Community Health Leaders Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

CFAH Staff | July 23, 2014
"When I think of patient engagement, I think of a partnership where people work together to figure out what the patient wants and how to support the process. Engagement is the knowledge base, working through the decisions and helping people to become full partners in their health outcomes." – June Simmons, MSW — Founding President and CEO, Partners in Care Foundation, San Fernando, CA

What Physicians Told Us About Patient Engagement

CFAH Staff | July 9, 2014
"Being engaged in our health and health care makes the most difference to us as individuals. Our actions need to reflect our own goals, our values and preferences, and what we are willing and able to do to achieve them," says Rushika Fernandopulle, MD, Co-Founder and CEO of Iora Health.

So Much Incorrect Health Information Online

CFAH Staff | May 13, 2014
How do we know which search results are true and which ones aren't? While you can find high-quality health information online, search results related to nutrition, fitness and preventive health vary widely in quality. And the actions we take (or don't take) as a result of the information we find can be hazardous...

Medication Cocktails: Not Every Mix Is Safe

CFAH Staff | May 5, 2014
One in every five older Americans takes medications that work against each other. And some interactions between prescription drugs and supplements can pose dangerous health risks. So what must we do to make sure that we benefit from the drugs we take?

Society of Behavioral Medicine Announces Inaugural 'Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement'

CFAH Staff | April 30, 2014
Dedicated to promoting behavioral medicine research and the application of that knowledge to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and populations, Society of Behavioral Medicine created this award to recognize an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.

The Person Responsible for Your Health Is...

CFAH Staff | February 27, 2014
Is it our job alone to look after our health? Or do employers, insurers, for-profit companies and the government also share some responsibility to keep us healthy? One person's nanny state is another's public health salvation. There is no shortage of examples of opposing perspectives...

Welcome Shifts in Primary Care

CFAH Staff | January 23, 2014
What exactly is primary care? There have been a number of news stories lately that point to shifts in its traditional definitions and in what patients can (or should) expect to receive from primary care providers...

Finding the Price of Health Care Services Remains Elusive

CFAH Staff | January 9, 2014
It's unfair to advise people to find out the price of a treatment when the price-transparency deck is stacked against them. So who will help patients find reliable price information and (hopefully) bring down the cost of care?

Lack of Access Still to Blame

CFAH Staff | January 7, 2014
What's the key to reducing costly emergency room visits and readmissions? People who lack convenient access to a health care provider, with or without insurance, return to the emergency department or hospital out of need and desperation...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 4): How Much Will Health Care Services Cost?

CFAH Staff | December 26, 2013
In part four of our series, we look at a few ways to estimate the cost of your care ahead of time so you can make the best choice for you and your loved ones. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources offer trusted websites and tips to get started...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 3): Understanding Insurance Terms

CFAH Staff | December 25, 2013
In part three of our series, we look at insurance terms that are used most often to describe or explain how much you’ll pay and what your benefits are. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources clarify these common phrases...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 2): Medicare and Medicaid Explained

CFAH Staff | December 24, 2013
In part two of our series, we look at the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources can help you figure out if you qualify for either of these or other special health care programs...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 1): Getting Covered

CFAH Staff | December 23, 2013
In part one of our series, we look at the basics of picking a health insurance plan that's right for you, your family or a loved one. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources can help you find the best coverage at the best price for your health needs...

Healthy Eating...Help!

CFAH Staff | November 27, 2013
It isn't breaking news that exercising and eating a healthy diet can help improve your overall health and fitness, but that doesn't make it any easier for most of us to follow suit. These resources from CFAH's 'Be a Prepared Patient' can help...

Tweetchat with Jessie Gruman Today at 2PM on Overtesting and Overtreating in Health Care

CFAH Staff | February 1, 2012
Join @jessiegruman, Otis Brawley MD, Executive VP of ACS and other experts on Twitter today at 2PM with ABC's @DrRichardBesser for a Tweetchat about overtesting and overtreating in health care. Use hash tag #abcdrbchat.

Inside Health Care: Barriers to Care: ''a Failure to Communicate'

CFAH Staff | August 24, 2011
A new study shows that 21% of adult Americans delay seeking health care for reasons other than cost. In this collection, a doctor, a journalist, and a health care manager discuss the need for improved systems and candor to support better doctor-patient communication.

Check out this week's Grand Rounds at DrPullen.com

CFAH Staff | August 16, 2011
Better Health's Grand Rounds is hosted this week by Dr. Ed Pullen, a board certified family physician practicing in Puyallup, WA. His medical blog provides an experienced family physician's viewpoint on medical news as well as giving interesting and helpful information to help patients be informed.

Better Health's Grand Rounds Volume 7, Number 44

CFAH Staff | July 26, 2011
This week's Grand Rounds collection of posts wrestles with conflicts of interest in reporting on evidence, obstacles to the delivery of evidence-based care, using evidence in practice and care decisions, and providing patient-centered care.

We're Hosting Grand Rounds for Better Health on Tuesday, July 26th

CFAH Staff | July 20, 2011
We're hosting Grand Rounds for Better Health on Tuesday, July 26th. Grand Rounds is a collection of top recent health care blog posts. For this week's theme and submission instructions...

Inside Health Care: The Uneven Terrain of Behavior Change

CFAH Staff | July 7, 2011
Three physicians navigate the perplexing world of health behavior in this week's Inside Health Care round-up.

The Conversation Continues: Patient Portals and the Digital Divide

CFAH Staff | June 27, 2011
New research on use of Kaiser Permanente's patient portal points to a widening digital divide for populations with limited education, health literacy or for certain ethnic/minority groups.

The Conversation Continues: Vitamins and Supplements

CFAH Staff | June 23, 2011
The WSJ Health Journal looks at the pros and cons of taking a multivitamin.

Conversation Continues: Young Adults and The Affordable Care Act

CFAH Staff | June 17, 2011
Sara Collins of the Commonwealth Fund and veteran health care journalist Trudy Lieberman look at how the Affordable Care Act is and is not helping young adults stay covered.

Inside Health Care: Watchful Waiting

CFAH Staff | June 16, 2011
Watchful waiting is more than 'doing nothing.' We've collected recent blogs on prostate cancer & watchful waiting from Laura Newman at Patient POV, the NYTimes New Old Age blog, and Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.

The Conversation Continues: What to Say to Someone Who Is Ill

CFAH Staff | June 14, 2011
In The New York Times This Life column, 'You Look Great and Other Lies', Bruce Feiler shares what he learned after his diagnosis and treatment for bone cancer. Bruce describes the gestures and words that are helpful and offers cautions about what not to say/do when someone you care about is ill.

Patient Perspectives: Life with Chronic Illness

CFAH Staff | June 13, 2011
This week's roundup includes patients discussing their experiences with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, scoliosis, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Conversation Continues: Hospital Discharge Without a Net

CFAH Staff | June 7, 2011
In The Wall Street Journal's Informed Patient column, Laura Landro notes various efforts hospitals are taking to prevent re-admissions, including Boston University Medical Center's use of a virtual nurse named Louise.

Inside Health Care: Show Me the Evidence

CFAH Staff | June 2, 2011
Being actively engaged in your health care means understanding how the care you are receiving will benefit you. We expect the care we receive and the health advice we are offered to be evidence based, using the best research available. Journalists, a researcher, and a doctor call attention to common practices where evidence is lacking.

The Conversation Continues: Vitamins and Supplements

CFAH Staff | May 24, 2011
Consumer Reports warns us to be aware of unregulated dietary supplements and provides some valuable resources for people considering taking supplements or who currently do.

Better Health's Grand Rounds Volume 7 #34

CFAH Staff | May 17, 2011
We received more than 40 contributions for this week's collection of health care blogs and columns. Patients, clinicians, policy wonks and interesting folks with opinions submitted original posts that are sure to expand your thinking and perspectives.

We're Hosting Grand Rounds for Better Health on Tuesday, May 17th

CFAH Staff | May 10, 2011
We're hosting Grand Rounds for Better Health on Tuesday, May 17th. Grand Rounds is a curated collection of top recent health care blog posts. Please submit any blog contributions for the May 17th Grand Rounds to grandrounds@cfah.org by Sunday, May 15th. We look forward to hearing from you, and be sure to check out our collection for Grand Rounds here on the Prepared Patient Forum, What It Takes, blog on May 17th.

Inside Health Care: Good Care Involves Good Communication

CFAH Staff | May 5, 2011
Many consider medicine just as much of an art as a science. How you communicate with your clinician and how your clinician communicates with you can affect your care.

The Conversation Continues: Vitamins & Supplements

CFAH Staff | May 2, 2011
Following our most recent Prepared Patient feature article, Dr. Steve Novella of the Science Based Medicine blog and Dr. Oz on The Dr. Oz Show explore a similar issue.

Inside Health Care: Is Your Doctor a Social Butterfly?

CFAH Staff | April 19, 2011
There appears to be no area that social media cannot soak through to: farming, politics, dating, death and even taxes. It comes as no surprise then that social media has diffused into the world of health care. Clinicians, researchers, patients and hospital CEOs are blogging, tweeting and sending Facebook messages. This post reveals some of the recent dialogue on the web surrounding social media and its use by health care professionals.

The Conversation Continues: Vitamins & Supplements

CFAH Staff | April 15, 2011
A new report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that half of U.S. adults take vitamins and other dietary supplements.

Inside Health Care: Overtested

CFAH Staff | April 12, 2011
Doctors and an executive vice president share experiences of over-testing and over-treatment in medicine and propose solutions to alleviate the problem by using you.

Patient Perspectives: It's the Little Things

CFAH Staff | March 21, 2011
It's all the little things that make caring for yourself or the one's you love with an illness that much more challenging. People with diabetes, MS and Rheumatoid Arthritis share their experiences in this patient blog roundup.

Patient Perspectives: Unspoken Rules

CFAH Staff | March 18, 2011
When you've been to one clinic or hospital, you have been to one clinic or hospital. Each operates differently and expects patients to take on different roles and responsibilities, which are rarely explained.

Conversation Continues: Evidence of the Effects of Empathy

CFAH Staff | March 11, 2011
A TIME article this week reveals new research that 'doctors who are more empathetic actually have healthier patients.' More on empathy and its role in health outcomes.....

Inside Health Care: Building Relationships with Patients

CFAH Staff | March 8, 2011
A blog round-up on the importance of building relationships with patients---starting early with medical students. Hospital administrators and specialists also weigh in with solutions.

Patient Perspectives: Paying for Health Care

CFAH Staff | March 4, 2011
This week's roundup features the patient voices of Brad Wright and Monte Jaffe and the decisions they made when faced with expensive health care costs.

The Conversation Continues: Rx Side Effects

CFAH Staff | February 10, 2011

Patient Perspectives: Best Patient Blogs of 2010

CFAH Staff | February 9, 2011
This week's roundup features the five nominees for the 2010 Medical Weblog Award for Best Patient Blog: Wheelchair Kamikaze Marc Stecker, Lisa Emrich from Brass and Ivory, Diabetes Mine's Amy Tendrich, Dispatch From Second Base by Jackie Fox, and Dean from Dean's Stroke Musings.

Inside Health Care: Evidence Patient Safety Improves With a Checklist

CFAH Staff | February 8, 2011
Checklists are not just for rocket launches. Family doctor, Dr. Davis Liu, Rep. Giffords' trauma surgeon, Dr. Randall Friese, former hospital CEO, Dr. Paul Levy, and a fifth year medical student, Ishani Ganguli, post on the importance of using checklists to promote patient safety. A new British Medical Journal study agrees.

Inside Health Care: Who ARE you anyway, Doctor?

CFAH Staff | January 28, 2011
Pediatric specialist, Dr. Bryan Vartabedian MD, writes about a time when he forgot to introduce himself to a new patient and on the Patient Empowerment Blog, Trisha Torrey recognizes the problem with the lack of identification in the clinical setting, and reflects deeper on the issue of patient safety.

The Conversation Continues: In the ER

CFAH Staff | January 27, 2011

Perseverance

Patient Perspectives | January 19, 2011
This week's roundup features a collection of patient voices from around the web including: Winner of the reality TV show the Amazing Race, Nat Strand, RA Warrior Kelly Young, and alias blogger WarmSocks.

More on ERs

Conversation Continues | January 14, 2011
CNN's Empowered Patient also focused on emergency rooms in their January 13th article Don't Die Waiting in the ER .More articles and features in Elizabeth Cohen's Empowered Patient series can be found here.

More Questions About Medical Tests

Conversation Continues | January 12, 2011

Staying a Step Ahead of Diabetes

Patient Perspectives | January 10, 2011
This week's roundup features a collection of patient voices from around the web including: DiabetesMine's Amy Tenderich, D-Mom Leighann Calentine, and a perspective on shared decision making.

Vaccine Safety

Conversation Continues | January 6, 2011
Two new books, examine the pseudoscience that created a controversy over vaccine safety, Dr. David Gorski, offers a review on science-based medicine, Andrew Wakefield's study linking autism to MMR vaccines continues to be dismantled and BMJ's Brian Deer compares diagnoses in Wakefield's study to hospital records.

Inside Health Care: Are Patients 'Priceless?'

CFAH Staff | December 23, 2010
An inside look at the cost of health care: a physician confused by the transparency of Medicare reimbursements and a patient in San Francisco unable to afford treatment for an enlarged prostate.

Patient Perspectives: Spoon Theory, Gift Ideas, and Stockpiling Meds

CFAH Staff | December 21, 2010
A collection of patient voices from around the web. This week's roundup includes: Christine Miserandino & e-Patient Dave on The Spoon Theory, Amy Tenderich with gift advice, and WarmSocks on keeping an emergency supply of meds.

Conversation Continues: Kangaroo Care & 'Less' is 'More'

CFAH Staff | December 15, 2010
Sometimes, the best way to progress isn't to advance to step up with more money, more technology, more modernity. It's to retreat.

Conversation Continues: Living with Chronic Illness - Julian Seifter's Wise Guidance

CFAH Staff | December 8, 2010
Jim Sabin, MD, offers his take on Dr. Seifter's insights about living with a chronic illness.

Patient Perspectives: Living with Diabetes, Ceasing Treatment, Impatience, and Indigestion Gone Wrong

CFAH Staff | December 3, 2010
A collection of patient voices from around the web. This week's roundup includes: Dr. Julian Seifter on living with diabetes, RA Warrior Kelly Young, Jim Stanicki on Trisha Torrey's Patient Empowerment Blog, Cynthia Lott Vogel on e-Patients.net, and one patient's expensive visit to the ER.

Conversation Continues: Physicians and Their Relationships with Pharmas

CFAH Staff | December 1, 2010
Gary Switzer's post on the Health News Review blog reminds us once again of potential conflicts between physician/pharma and consumer interests.

Inside Health Care: Exploring Accountable Care Organizations

CFAH Staff | November 30, 2010
Doctors, lawyers, researchers, and hospital CEOs all have something to say these days about Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). A collection of web posts includes: Frank Pasquale with Concurring Opinions, Anna D. Sinaiko and Meredith B. Rosenthal in The New England Journal of Medicine's November Perspectives, Vince Kuratis on The Health Care Blog, Jim Sabin on KevinMD, and Paul Levy on Running a Hospital.

Inside Health Care: A Doctor, a Nurse, and an Intern Weigh-In on EMRs on KevinMD

Inside Health Care | November 24, 2010
KevinMD hosts a range of clinicians who comment on the electronic medical record. Guests include: Dr. Christopher Johnson, pediatric intensive care doc, who blogs on ChristopherJohnsonMD; Jared Sinclair R.N., an ICU nurse and pre-medical student, who blogs at jaredsinclair + com; and Angienadia M.D., a Yale intern, who blogs at Primary DX. Read what they have to say about EMRs.

Patient Perspectives: Crowdsourcing, Ice Cream, a Fourth Devastating Diagnosis, and Medication Side Effects

CFAH Staff | November 22, 2010
A collection of patient voices from around the web. This week's roundup includes: Red Maxwell, founder of the online diabetes community juvenation.org, D-Mom Leighann Calentine, patient empowerment advocate Trisha Torrey, and WarmSocks from "infinity-itis".

Conversation Continues: Health News We're Watching

CFAH Staff | November 12, 2010
Slate picks up on news about the recent Lung Cancer CT Scan study, which was also covered by Gary Schwitzer and others, in this Explainer column: Full-Body Scam: Should you ask your doctor to CT scan you from head to toe?

Inside Health Care: Physicians Put on a Gown and the Power of Touch

Inside Health Care | November 12, 2010
A collection of professional voices from around the web including Dr. Herbert Mathewson in The Health Care Blog, Dr. Kevin Pho of KevinMD.com, and Dr. Rob Lamberts on his blog, Musings of a Distractible Mind. These highlight the patient experience from a professional perspective and the power of touch.

Patient Perspectives: Dogs, Seeing a New GP, D-Blog Day and Mechanics v. Docs

CFAH Staff | November 11, 2010
A collection of patient voices from around the web. This week's roundup includes: Dana Jennings of the New York Times, RA Warrior Kelly Young, Leighann Calentine from D-Mom Blog: the Sweet Life with a Diabetic Child, and the Patient Empowerment Blog's Trisha Torrey.

Health News Stories We're Watching:

CFAH Staff | November 10, 2010
Two new posts by Gary Schwitzer on the Health News Review Blog this week. One on the promotion of CT screening after the release of the recent Lung Cancer CT scan study and the other on new investigative reporting by ProPublica. Both evolving health stories that touch on key hot health care reform debates: Comparative effectiveness research, entitlement programs, marketing to the public, and more.

Inside Health Care: Dichotomies: Quality or Familiarity? Empower or Manage?

Inside Health Care | November 8, 2010

Inside Health Care: Trusted Sources?

Inside Health Care | October 29, 2010
The increasing presence (sometime hidden) of advertisers in health care websites - including the new Sharecare - was discussed this week by healthcare journalists Gary Schwitzer and Pia Christensen, Dr. Elaine Schattner, M.D. and marketer and advertiser Dan Dunlop

Patient Perspectives

CFAH Staff | October 28, 2010
This week's collection of patient perspectives includes Patient Power's Andrew Schorr, Leighann Calentine of D-Mom Blog, e-Patient Dave, and RA Warrior Kelly Young.

Patient Perspectives

CFAH Staff | October 25, 2010
This week's collection of patient perspectives includes DCPatient's Donna Cryer, Amy Tenderich from Diabetes Mine, Kelly Young the RA Warrior, author Paula Span, and Patient Power's Andrew Schorr.

The Conversation Continues 'Follow It Here:

CFAH Staff | October 22, 2010
A new commentary by Peter Frishauf, Fixing Those Damn Lies, has been posted on epatients.net that follows up on Monday's post about Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science, an article in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly. e-Patient Dave advises us to be sure to read Peter's footnotes.

Patient Posts Around the Web

CFAH Staff | October 15, 2010
A collection of patient voices from around the web. This week's roundup includes: pediatrician, blogger and mother of two Wendy Swanson, aka Seattle Mama Doc (http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/); Kelly Young, the RA Warrior (http://rawarrior.com/); and Amy Tendrich of Diabetes Mine (http://www.diabetesmine.com/).

Selecting Health Insurance? Help from Around the Web:

CFAH Staff | October 13, 2010
In his most recent blog, "How to Pick Good Health Insurance - Your Life Depends on It," Dr. Davis Liu emphasizes how important is it for us to evaluate carefully our health insurance plans. Liu points out that, unlike other companies or products whose efficacy may impact our lives modestly ' your car wash, dry cleaners and choice of movie theater ' the ranking of your health insurance plan relative to others impacts your life greatly. And not all health plans are created equal.