Open Thread — Ask me Anything

* Molly’s kitchen garden flowers

Been a few days since the last entry on the blog. To jump start this stalled system here’s an open thread. What’s on your mind?

The purple flowers on the left are from a friend’s kitchen garden in Westmont, IL. Click on the image to embiggen in a new tab. Below, just for fun, I’d like to present two quite unrelated videos. I imply nothing by the conjunction. I hope you get a laugh out of them.


Author: Atanu Dey


14 thoughts on “Open Thread — Ask me Anything”

  1. In the current Indian medical system, there is an incentive for the hospital to overcharge and over-treat.

    Let us have an alternate concept where Hospital charges a yearly fixed rate. Hospital gets to pocket the money if the customer spending is less than the yearly rate. The hospital makes a profit. The hospital has all the incentive to do proactive checkups, prevent overprescribing and over-treating.

    Will this system work in India? I want to know your thoughts, Atanu.

    Technically, the medical insurance companies should have the same incentive as described above. But somehow, in practice, the insurance companies seldom take an active interest in keeping their customer healthy. Maybe integrating insurance-companies and hospitals will help.

    I am inspired by Ajay Shah’s view in the following video:


    1. I stuggled through around 13 minutes of the conversation you linked to. The host, Puja Mehra, is quite hard to take. Her fawning over her guest put me off to start off. But it was downhill from there.

      I find a particular manner of speaking quite silly where the speaker insinuates overly broad generalizations of the kind that begin with the word “we” — as in “we think of the world like this but it is actually like that.” I find myself mentally asking, “We? Who’s the we that you speak on behalf of? Do you have a frog in your pocket that you keep refering to yourself as we?”

      I am sorry that I don’t have an hour to waste listening to Ms Mehra and Ajay. But I am happy to address your question, which I will do in a post. Thanks for asking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was at times slightly repelled by Puja’s bias (which showed up), but I did thoroughly enjoy Ajay Shah’s points. It is a pity that our preferences differ in this case. Anyway, to each his own…

        I am, however, mighty glad that you agreed to do a post on this. I shall be eagerly waiting for that. Thanks to you Atanu, for taking this up.


          1. Hi Atanu,
            Did you write up something about the topic? Not about the stupidity of the youtube-video (you have let your opinion be known about that quite unambiguously), but the following question:

            Let us have an alternate concept where hospital charges a yearly fixed rate. Hospital gets to pocket the money if the customer spending is less than the annual rate. The hospital makes a profit. The hospital has all the incentive to do proactive checkups, prevent overprescribing and prevent over-treating.
            Will this system work in India? I want to know your thoughts, Atanu.


            1. I have written previously about how to make medical services more affordable.

              About medical insurance: I realize that medical insurance is a pretty common deal around the developed world. It does not make sense to me, although it does appear to make sense to many others. I suspect that they have not throught through the problem. It appears to me that health cannot be insured against — because death is not an uncertain event. Death is certain. So how can you insure against dying? All the money in the world cannot save any living thing from dying.

              As I see it, it is “health insurance” that’s making medical services unaffordable. It pushes up the costs and prices it out of the reach of people.

              I think the best thing to do is to simplify the system. You need medical services. You pay for it — just like you pay for all other services that you need. You need food? You get it by paying for it. You want education? Pay for it.

              How can I pay for something? By doing something that people pay me for. Why would they pay me? Because I do something that they want. And they pay me with money that they get from doing something that others want done.

              If I get stuff for free, I really don’t have any reason to move my butt and get things done. And if people stop getting things done, there’s less stuff to go around. And that’s what is called poverty.

              You want stuff? Do things that others want done. Want medical services? Pay for it. How? Do stuff.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I am delighted with the OPD services available in India. I have stayed in 3 countries, and India’s OPD services are the best. One of the reasons being freedom of practising medicine due to cultural and inefficiency reasons.
              Cultural, because Yunani, Hakimi, Ayurved and Homeopathy are considered legal in India.
              Inefficiency, because there are non-doctors (read friendly neighbourhood pharmacist) who prescribes reasonably accurate medicine for 90% of the time. Although it is illegal to prescribe medicine without a licensed doctor’s prescription, the inefficient state (which cannot enforce the law, thankfully) cannot prevent over-the-counter medication.

              That is the good part.

              The bad, nay horrible part, is the hospitalization scenario.


  2. A few themes to revisit and update based on what has happened in the recent years and a few new threads:
    1. Now that we have encountered disappointments in Modi and the general political class, how do you see Indian economy doing in the coming decade(s). An update post would be welcome.
    2. Freedom of speech – a new post will be timely seeing what’s happening in the US. Many years ago you wrote many fantastic posts on the subject including:
    3. Indian education – Especially K12. you were quite interested in the subject in the 2000s. New insights based on what you have seen in years since?
    3. Unlimited Fed support in the pandemic- what are your views on the direct and indirect impacts? What would Friedman say?


  3. Two questions:

    What was your most intense learning experience, whether during some formal course-work or during self-studies? … Some topic / subject / book / concept / principle / theory / etc. where you had to struggle hard, very hard, before the proverbial light finally dawned upon you gradually, or, may be, the bulb lit up suddenly? … If there have been many such instances, could you share one or two of them?

    Are you interested in quantum mechanics? Have you ever been?



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