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Healthcare Question: WHO GETS HELP AND WHO DOESN’T?

My friend Ted Czukor sent me this essay and I am pleased to pass it on to you:

WHO GETS HELP AND WHO DOESN’T?
By Ted Czukor

info@tedsyoga.com

I’d like to take a poll of all readers over the age of 30. How many of you think that life is going to unfold the way you had envisioned? It certainly hasn’t been like that for me! I’m 65 now, and on the one hand I’ve had some wonderful experiences that I never could have predicted, while on the other hand some experiences have been the sheerest crap; but very seldom in my life has my planning brought about the exact result to which I had looked forward.

One of the more disturbing surprises I’ve had recently is that finally getting Medicare health insurance is not necessarily a guarantee of receiving proper medical attention—because healthcare providers are sometimes slow to order medical tests. I say “sometimes” because it’s a very mixed bag. Sometimes our doctor may send us immediately to the lab for something that he feels is necessary, but other times we may have to come back to his office for multiple appointments over several months with the same persistent complaint before he will decide that the quickly-written prescription isn’t doing anything, and we really do need to have a tube stuck down our throat or a picture taken of our brain or joints to see what the hell is actually going on.

It’s hard to predict when our doctors will jump on a test immediately or delay one for several months—but it seems clear from the national discussion on TV that some tests are being delayed due to concerns about cost. Our healthcare system is losing money, and some patients are guilty of what the insurance industry calls “over-utilization of services”—which makes it damned hard on those of us who legitimately need the testing.

On the Today Show on Wednesday morning, August 28th 2012, Dr. Nancy Snyderman actually suggested that any medical test will come up with something treatable, so therefore people in their 90’s should hold off on such tests so that younger people with longer-expected life spans can benefit from the treatments instead!  We like and respect Dr. Nancy, and we never expected her to take such a cold-blooded stance on the subject. It sounds logical and fiscally responsible on the surface, but how low on the age scale should we set the cutoff point? Age 80? 70? What about people over the age of 60? Shouldn’t other factors besides age be considered in such a decision?

Such a stance is easy to support, so long as the older people in question are generic groups whom you have never met. But when that older person is suddenly a personal friend or a member of your own family—or when, God forbid, it’s actually you—then you will probably take a second look and decide that in this case, at least, an exception should be made!

Another unexpected and recent surprise has been that we have to do our own diagnosing. More accurately, we have to research our symptoms on the Internet and take our questions about possible causes to our doctor, to get him to look into them and determine whether we are barking up the wrong tree—or not. Only our doctors and their labs can diagnose for certain, but we have to tell them what to look for! This is doubtless due to the overwhelming number of patients they see every day, with the result that even the most conscientious physician can only pay full attention to the patient who is right in front of him. As soon as that patient has left and a new one has come in, the first one better receive proper follow-up from the doctor’s staff, because the doctor himself will have forgotten about him until their next scheduled appointment.

In the last three years my wife and I have been successfully treated for degenerated hips and shoulders, melanoma and allergic reactions to various medications—but in every case we were the ones who had to self-diagnose the condition and then go to the proper specialist to have it verified! Until we did that, we were simply given prescriptions for pain or infection in an attempt to mask symptoms.  It was never suggested that surgery might be needed, or that a medication should be discontinued because it might be messing us up.  Suggestions of that nature had to be put forward by us.

I have two reasons for writing this essay and sharing it with others. For those in the medical profession, I want you to know that educated patients understand your dilemmas concerning healthcare costs and the limited time you are allowed to spend with each of us—but we insist that attention be paid to us as individuals, rather than as generic members of a certain age group. For my contemporaries who are experiencing the same frustrations that I am, I want to encourage you to Keep Doing Your Searches on WebMD, and Keep Asking Questions. Don’t take a doctor’s “I don’t know” for an answer. Get your facts lined up, and insist on getting tested for anything that alarms you and that your doctor isn’t completely sure doesn’t need a test.

For those of you who aren’t wealthy and are under 65 without health insurance, I empathize.  I went without insurance for two years before finally making it to Medicare age. The best advice I can give is to do whatever you feel is necessary to maintain your functionality, until you can finally get coverage to see doctors again. The trick is to just stay alive. But remember that getting the insurance won’t be enough. You will have to be an active advocate for your own health and for the health of your spouse and parents.

Today is the day the Supreme Court weighs in on Obamacare…

The news media is waiting with baited breath for the decision of the SCOTUS which is due today on the President’s health care plan. So many questions are waiting to be answered:

1. Will the Court’s decision be primarily political?

2. Who will suffer the most if it is overturned?:

- Young people under 26 years old who are able to be on their parents’ health care plan, who could lose that  advantage unless the insurance company itself allows it.

- Protection for sick patients who can lose their coverage due to a mistake in paperwork.

- People in southern states who have the least amount of state-mandated protection on their health insurance as opposed to more progressive states.

- Women will not be able to get free birth control (this is Planned Parenthood‘s major worry.)

- The risk of coverage will increase immensely for insurance companies who will not be as supportive of the users and more supportive of themselves.

3. Will the Court separate the Mandate (the requirement that everyone have insurance) from the rest of the law?

So we await the decision which will be written by Justice Roberts and see if they use it as the standard  anti-Democrat response the court has made since putting George W. Bush into office.

 

So J.P Morgan Chase got screwed on our money and will now look for a new bailout…

…Perhaps we should listen to Robert Reich:

Let’s hope Morgan’s losses don’t turn into another crisis of confidence and they don’t spread to the rest of the financial sector.

But let’s also stop hoping Wall Street will mend itself. What just happened at J.P. Morgan — along with its leader’s cavalier dismissal followed by lame reassurance — reveals how fragile and opaque the banking system continues to be, why Glass-Steagall must be resurrected, and why the Dallas Fed’s recent recommendation that Wall Street’s giant banks be broken up should be heeded.

This is the end of a great column which you can read HERE.

As to resurrecting Glass-Steagall, some don’t think it is possible, but we have to get back to regulations separating investment banks from the banks Americans save their money in. We had it like that for close to eighty years without the economic catastrophes we have now.

4 and a half minutes with the Medical Industry

I blew my morning this morning with a Neurologists visit in Hagerstown. I see this doctor every six months because he has me on a prescription to not have the strange blackouts I had last year (he says they are seizures, but apparently I function normally during them…I just don’t remember what I’ve done when  I recognize my surroundings again.

Anyway… it takes close to an hour to drive to this Dr.’s office, five or six minutes to go over insurance information and copay stuff with the girl at the front desk, then, being shown to a little room, I wait.

By around 10:30 I have been waiting for my 10:15 meeting with the Dr. for fifteen minutes.

Then he comes in and asks me if I’m taking my meds (yes, I say) and have I had any seizures (no, I say)…good, he says, I’ll see you in November.

My total time with the Dr. is 4.5 minutes. I don’t know how much the insurance company is paying for this, or what they are going to charge me, but my main thought is “I could have done this over the phone.”

You’d think he’d tap my knees or look in my ears or something. But he didn’t (I didn’t even get put on a scale…the girl who checked me in asked me what I weighed. I could have said anything.)

The medical world is a gaggle of thieves.

Quote du Jour – Debt Ceiling Filibuster

“We’ve had not one minute of debate about the debt ceiling in any committee. We haven’t had a budget in two years. We haven’t had an appropriations bill in two years. So I’m part of the freshmen group in the Senate that’s saying, ‘no more.'”

“Next week, we will filibuster until we talk about the debt ceiling, until we talk about proposals.”

- Rand Paul (R – KY)

So next week is going to have a new reason to watch C-Span 2. Can’t wait.

I NEED YOUR HELP>>>>>>

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Roger Ebert on “The One Percenters…”

Here are a couple of fragments from a very good article on our current economic state by, of all people, Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times. I’ve picked a couple of comments, but click on the link below to read the whole thing,
clipped from blogs.suntimes.com
Day after day I read stories that make me angry. Wanton consumption is glorified. Corruption is rewarded. Ordinary people see their real income dropping, their houses sold out from under them, their pensions plundered, their unions legislated against, their health care still under attack. Yes, people in Wisconsin and Ohio have risen up to protest these realities, but why has there not been more outrage?
The most visible centers of these crimes against the population are Wall Street and the financial industry in general. Although there are still many honest bankers, some seem to regard banking and trading as a license to steal. Outrageous acts are committed and go unpunished.
I have the quaint idea that wealth should be obtained by legal and conventional means–by working, in other words–and not through the manipulation of financial scams.
 

What puzzles me is why there isn’t more indignation.

 

blog it

Quote of the Day – Why I love Austan Goolsbee…

“Well, look, it pains me that we would even be talking about this. This is not a game. You know, the debt ceiling is not something to toy with. If we hit the debt ceiling, that’s essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. That would be a worst financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.

As I say that’s not a game. I don’t see why anybody’s talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling. If we get to the point where you’ve damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity.”

- Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, on ABC’s This Week, commenting on Tea Party insistence that the country’s debt ceiling not be raised.

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