On the second anniversary of the disastrous Hurricane Katrina, it is fitting to look at issues of risk and preparedness. Today, Health Affairs Blog is hosting the blog carnival “Cavalcade Of Risk” which was started by Hank Stern of InsureBlog.

Preparing For Disaster

In a report in this morning’s St. Augustine Record, Associated Press reporter Ron Fournier writes:

“What happened to this historic city two years ago is more than the obvious cautionary tale of what might befall your community after a natural disaster or a terrorist strike. It’s also a sad reflection of what’s happening now, today, in your hometown and across an anxious and ailing nation.
Inadequate health care.
A housing crisis.
Crumbling infrastructure.
Racial division.
Poor schools.
Rising crime.”

So, what have we learned in the past two years in terms of preparing for the risk of significant natural disasters? Not much, according to a Gulf-area health care provider interviewed by Tom Bearden of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Bearden’s interview is excerpted on Health Affairs Blog today.

At the New Republic’s Open University blog, Sanford Levinson writes at length on risk analysis with references to Katrina. He elaborates on “our society’s strange, even bizarre, attitudes toward risk. That is, as is well known, we overestimate the risks of certain events, sometime to the point of panic, even as we underestimate others, to our severe detriment.”

Health And Safety Risks

For today’s “cavalcade” of risk blogposts, we look first at health-related risk (this is a health policy blog, after all), Jason Shafrin of the Healthcare Economist writes an interesting post on how epidemiologists are using video games to model the risk and spread of infectious diseases such as flu pandemics.

Julie Ferguson of Workers Comp Insider blogs about another instance of asbestos-related illnesses surfacing at a W.R. Grace company. On the insurance risk front, Cato@Liberty’s Michael Cannon debates P4P, quality of care, and evidence-based medicine. And David Williams of the Health Business Blog writes on Medicaid and moral hazard for seniors.

On the topic of personal injury/safety, Hank Stern of InsureBlog offers thoughts about the risk/reward scenario of motorcycle helmet laws, citing the quirky Darwin Awards, a “chronicle of enterprising demises.” Lawyer Eric Turkewitz of the New York Personal Injury Law Blog notes that assumption of risk may not apply to gym class injury.

And on a topic of growing interest, Michael Horowitz writes about “medical tourism”–its risks and savings–on the new blog MedTripInfo.

Economic Risk

Yesterday, the effect of the economy on health care was evident in the Census Bureau’s announcement that the number of uninsured Americans has jumped from 44.8 million in 2005 to 47 million in 2006. Kurt Brouwer of Fundmastery Blog, however, offers a post on 10 reasons why the economy is not currently at risk of a recession, citing historical analyses from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Tackling the new financial risks inherent in today’s volatile markets is the topic of Leon Gettler’s post in his Sox First blog. Teaspoon Finance blog, offering “one teaspoon of wisdom at a time,” touts the importance of disability insurance as a financial asset. Charles Green of Trusted Advisor blog discusses how interconnected and financially interdependent the world has become in his post on the market’s volatility.

However, even in the face of uncertain economic markets, there is even risk in seemingly conservative acts as saving money, notes Shannon Christman of the Saving Advice Blog. The Digerati Life’s post on keeping the risk of the stock market in perspective, has a great photo of running with the bulls–an apt image of the nervous investor in today’s economic market.

Lastly, for anyone interested in in-depth analyses of the shifting risk-benefit landscape, I refer readers to the May/June 2007 issue of Health Affairs devoted to the topic of risk. The nearly 300-page volume includes papers on consumer-directed care: let the buyer beware; drug safety proposals; and a risk analysis on what’s more dangerous–your aspirin or your car

Update: The next edition of Cavalcade of Risk will be hosted by David Williams of Health Business Blog.