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Why Health Care Is A Wicked Problem

   /   Jun 29th, 2012News, Uncategorized

The Supreme Court has brought the country one step closer to universal health care, but the road continues.

The Supreme Court has allowed most aspects of Obama’s health care bill to pass. So, now we all get free broccoli, right?

Hopefully, we’ll eventually see the bill’s effects in our own lives–though that may require Obama to have a second term, since Mitt Romney has said that he will repeal the bill if he wins office. And the Court’s decision had one result that may impede the bill’s ability to reach those who need health care the most: it limited the expansion of Medicaid, on the basis that it would be an unconstitutional impingement on states’ rights.

Check out Atul Gawande’s insightful article on The New Yorker’s website, explaining why health care is a “wicked problem,” meaning a messy, complex issue with interlocking dependencies that defies a simple solution (we’ve written about wicked problems, and how design students in New York are tackling them, before).

Gawande writes: “The reality of trying to solve a wicked problem is that action of any kind presents risks and uncertainties. Yet so does inaction. All that leaders can do is weigh the possibilities as best they can and find a way forward.”

9 Responses

  1. Joan Skrobat RN says:

    I am a 63 year old RN who has worked in the health care industry for 43 years. The last 25 years I have worked in home care and have done everything in my power to advocate for the patients.

    I have gone before health insurance companies to obtain appropriate and less expensive care for patients in their homes.

    The Visiting Nurse Association I worked for decided after 92 years of service to the community to close its doors and today I am an unemployed nurse and I found in these 2 months of unemployment that in the USA one can purchase ANYTHING EXCEPT HEALTH INSURANCE.
    Because the company was closing and they utilized COBRA for the last year I was left with NO health insurance.

    I applied to ANTHEM BC/BS. I have been a member with them for 14 plus years never imaginaging I would be denied Health Insurance from this company even though I was willing to pay the high premiums. I was denied health insurance because “of a pre-existing condition: “weight is elevated relative to height.”
    According to all definitions of Pre-Existing this Diagnosis made by an insurance company does not apply. I have not been diagnosed by a physician or treated for this condition as pre- existing. In appeal to ANTHEM they would not even consider my healthy lifestyle, exercise program etc. An underwriter set my fate for continued preventive health care.

    I don’t know how to react to the health care reform act. I have written to Congresswoman DeLauro and Sentator Blumenthal with either no response or no help.
    I am in a situation I would have never expected in the USA.
    Thank you for your time
    Joan Skrobat

  2. Tom R. says:

    Re: Wicked Problems — You might like to know about this recent publication.

    “Wicked Problems – Social Messes: Decision support Modelling with Morphological Analysis”. Springer, 2011.

    You can see a description at:


    Tom R.

  3. Ruth says:

    Good people, striving to contribute, people with grandparents, parents, kids, neighbors, who read and know what’s going on with our unemployed populate these corporations which are operating within our current banking and bankruptcy laws.

    I do not feel conviction that maintaining a corporation is a good on its own. The people in it have a lot to contribute to right these monolithic balloons to keep them on track in the parade and not spilling people to the sidewalk, not crushing people in their juggernautery.

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