Editor’s Memo

YIP, YIP, Histor-yeah!


Peter Wehrwein

Starting in 2015, we’ve used our December issues to feature a collection of “Year in Preview” stories—or YIPs as we’ve come to call them. Turns out we’re also susceptible to the contagion of acronyms that infects American health care.

The goal with the YIPs is to take a step back, look at the year that has gone by in health and managed care and hazard some educated guesses about what awaits us.

It’s still December with shopping days on the calendar. But Janus—next month’s eponymous god with one head looking back and the other, forward—captures the idea.

Last year we got caught up in Amazon fever and all the hyperventilating about the online retailer disrupting health care. Amazon’s health care thingamajig generated a sizable amount of clickbaity news in 2018. Atul Gawande and Jack Stoddard were interesting hires. But has it been disruptive? Nah.

High drug prices and efforts to tame (or justify) them were a big story this year. That was an easy one to get right, and drug prices made the 2019 YIP roster we have in this issue. The opioid epidemic is also making a repeat appearance. The question for next year is whether the massive, bipartisan federal legislation that passed this year will have its intended effect. The ACA may be frayed at the edges, but our YIPs, last year and this, discuss its stick-to-itiveness. The politics and policies of guaranteed issue, which Contributing Editor Richard Mark Kirkner reports on page 19, are certainly a factor.

We are trying something different this year by attempting to get beneath the surface and delve into reasons for next year’s developments. Less of “what will happen” and more about the eddying whys of what may or could happen.

We’re less likely to be wrong this way. Arnold Toynbee may not have actually said it, but it’s still irresistible. “History,” goes the quote attributed to the British historian, “is just one damn thing after another.” And so too hard to predict.