Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Being among the 45,000

In a recent study Dr. Steffie Woolhandler reports that "45,000 Americans are dying annually due to lack of health insurance."

Is this acceptable?

4 comments:

Pamela said...

No, this is not acceptable in a country that is supposed to be the best on the planet.

I managed a small clinic for six years and fought insurance companies on the behalf of my doctor and the patients daily.

We need health care reform and with such startling statics--mind you these are people not just numbers, it is time out for politics as usual and time to really seriously do something in regards to this issue.

Judith Ellis said...

A relative runs a successful medical billing company and I imagine she could tell many stories, Pam. We just have to do something. Reading about the glories and struggles of the longest serving Labor Secretary, Frances Perkins, has energized me to also fight on any level that I can. She desired health care insurance for those without work and the working poor back during The Great Depression. I guess the insurance lobby was big back then too. The more things change the more they stay the same, eh?. But we need to really push on some things. By the way, I don't care what it's called. I just want it done! What can the people do to make this happen?

Pamela said...

First of all education is important. We must know the facts. There is a lot of talk about making insurance companies compete for business. If they don't have to they will continue to have ridiculous amounts for annual deductables and they will opt to only cover those preventative exams or test. Meaning anything they find in a routine examine is not covered because it is considered a diagnostic test instead and if you try to change insurance companies with the noted condition it is considered pre-existing. This is where even those with benefits are falling.

Now having used Tri-care through the military for almost 20 years, I can say the system worked for us. Now this is active duty--I have known Vets to have problems and have worked for physicians who have been frustrated with government regulations and being limited in the care they could give.

We should continue to insist on fair medical care and coverage. We should shop for the best value and coverage. And stop giving them the upper hand. Physicians have to stand up against pharmaceuticals as well and insurance companies. They know people are being taken advantage of. They are afraid of bogus law suits. They are afraid of being investigated by Medicare. They are afraid of their files being rummaged through. This is a major concern especially in private practice. I understand it when they say they need to be protected from these instances.

Pharmaceutical companies charge excessive amounts for drugs. They romance doctors to prescribe their medications. They give them thousands of dollars to lecture on behalf of their drugs. I have seen this first hand. They also give money for research in exchange for endorsement of their drugs. This can be good if new medications are developed but still these cost must come down.

Hospital and office charges. I did billing you bill for the highest amount possible under the right CPT and ICD-9 codes. Sometimes this is due to the rate the insurance company has pre-determined they will cover and then the hospital will write off the balance or pass it on to the patient in some form.

We are in a mess and 45,000 people are dying annually because of it. We need health care even though our system isn't healthy itself.

We oppose regulations, but without someone watching and looking out for the uninformed this is what happens and will continue.

Judith Ellis said...

Pam - Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and very real examples. They're appreciated. The fact that you began with education is essential. We must really educate ourselves, mustn’t we? There needs to be a push for this on all levels. Citizen involvement is key. But most people are satisfied with the status quo so as long as that's not changed.

We saw a major push for change during the election because people were personally afraid for their own finances and situations. But right now you do not see the same push for change because we want somebody else to do it. I say that each of us needs to what is necessary where we are like getting involved with our neighborhoods, schools, governments, libraries, etc.

The problem is that we do not see ourselves as being a community unless there is a disaster. But the reality is that we are either building community or letting it wane. This is important because this is how necessary policy changes. Congresspersons could not do what they do on a daily basis if citizens were really involved and if, of course, we do away with campaign finance as we have now.

We talk a lot about freedom but pass it on to others. Also, if you look at many leaders who began grassroots organizations, many have become a part of the establishment in that they are bought and sold like Congresspersons. Politics really must be local and in that regard we will get the best national policies on a whole host of issues.