Quiz of the Day: What Is This Map?


This map was released today as part of a 14-page research report. What is it?

Here are your choices:

  1. Donald Trump’s claim of how many states Republicans will win if they nominate him for president.
  2. The creeping spread of socialism in Barack Obama’s America.
  3. Other than white, the predominant color in each state’s flag.
  4. Which states make it easy to look up health care prices.

Yeah, the answer is #4. Red means your state got a letter grade of F. In other words, 45 out of 50 states do exactly nothing to make health care pricing transparent for their residents. Here’s how this plays out in real life:

If any single fact illuminates why reining in health care spending is going to be easier said than done, it might be this: we don’t even really know why a typical, low-risk childbirth costs $1,200 at some hospitals and $12,000 at others.

….In Massachusetts, a state that passed a law in 2012 to make health care costs more transparent [but still gets a grade of F anyway. –ed.], a research team trying to track down the price of a simple left knee MRI without a contrast dye found themselves transferred to six or seven departments and playing phone tag for days. Among 22 hospitals in a survey by Barbara Anthony, a senior fellow at the Pioneer Institute, a free market public policy think tank, it took anywhere from 10 minutes to nearly a week and a half to get an answer. If it’s that difficult to figure out how much it will cost to get a short scan to look at your knee, good luck trying to pin down the cost of the miracle of life.

Is there any other significant area of life where it’s virtually impossible to find out how much something will cost before you decide to buy it? I sure can’t think of one.

The full report is here, but it warns that “you will find little progress since last year and, in some cases, regression.” Sounds like a fun read.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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