Thursday, February 4, 2010

Health Care Reform...what is your opinion?

See, things like this are so hard. What side to be on? And then maybe you pick a side and then you read an article like this, which took place about 30 minutes from your own home, and makes you think. What really IS the best side to be on, in this fight over medical reform? I have no idea because there seems to be good points on both sides. But then you read an article and it just makes it that much more difficult to know what to fight for:

"HARTFORD — - The insurance capital of America played host Wednesday to the uninsured, more than 1,000 of whom filled the cavernous Connecticut Convention Center for the chance to see a doctor.

They got their vitals taken, their eyes examined, their health inspected by professionals inside convention booths draped with blue curtains for privacy.

Some got diagnoses. Some got referrals for follow-up care. Some got taken out on stretchers, their heartbeat or other indicators deemed too troublesome to wait.

"It's heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time," said Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics, which ran the one-day clinic.

Heartwarming, she said, because 1,200 volunteers came to help. Heartbreaking because so many people needed a free clinic in a convention center to get a checkup.

The association has hosted similar events around the country. The idea is to give people without health insurance medical attention and connect them to a regular source of care.

Some of the patients had jobs but no health insurance. Some were out of work, like Judy Mercer of Ellington. Before she lost the health coverage from her former job at The Home Depot, Mercer asked her doctor to give her enough prescriptions to last through Christmas. Her medication is due to run out this month.

At the front of the area where she waited, a volunteer called out the next group of patients to be seen. Volunteers escorted patients through each step. There were H1N1 vaccines and HIV tests. Women got gynecological exams inside a mobile clinic (a converted bus). Doctors screened patients for glaucoma in an open area, while social workers and psychiatrists offered counseling behind curtains.

Patients praised the organization of the clinic and the volunteers, some of whom came from across the country.

Lamour Howell, a 62-year-old retired nurse from Windsor, came with pain in her foot so bad she had to stop dancing or wearing high heels. She'd had it for two years, and two doctors had been unable to find the cause. On Wednesday, a volunteer nurse offered a diagnosis (Morton's neuroma) and a solution (an anti-inflammatory).

"It was awesome," Howell said.

Dr. Ralph Freidin, a primary care doctor from Lexington, Mass., said the patients had the same conditions a similar slice of the population might, with one difference: Their cases were more severe.

Freidin said he was struck by the patients' lack of access to basic services like blood pressure screenings and eye exams, despite living in a region flush with medical centers boasting the latest medical technology.

"They really have been deprived of the tremendous advances we've seen in medicine over the past several decades," he said.

Dr. Bruce Gould, the clinic's medical director and also medical director of the Burgdorf Health Center in Hartford and the Hartford Health Department, said he wished that the people who opposed health reform would talk to the patients he saw Wednesday.

As he spoke, Gould, the associate dean for primary care at the UConn Health Center, was mulling a case. The woman's symptoms suggested coronary artery disease. She needed follow-up tests, he knew, tests that cost thousands of dollars.

Paramedics had a stretcher ready in case she needed to go to the emergency room.

The woman's case perplexed him. Gould could diagnose her and patients like her, tell them how to best treat their conditions. But what could he do for them long term if they lacked the money or insurance for the tests and treatment they needed?

"It reflects the fact that we have a broken health care system in this country," he said.

Across the room, by the clinic's exit, patients passed through a cluster of tables advertising local health centers, social service programs, and groups that might offer lasting help. Patients received a list of health care providers who could see them for free or on a sliding scale.

Bradford Howard Jr., outreach director at Hartford's Charter Oak Health Center, had staff members on call back at the health center. He would hand over his cellphone to anyone who didn't have a phone but wanted an appointment.

He instructed one man on where to go for help finding work. He was ready to dispense advice on other services too.

"What good is helping people out if it's a Band-Aid?" he asked. "What are they going to do after?"

5 meaningful meanderings:

Lee said...

There are more important things than medical reform.

I've read countless articles on it, and watched different news outlets.
I do not trust this bill. It will waste ridiculous amounts of money and ruin many people's current healthcare.

That's just my opinion.

Toriz said...

We have the NHS (National Health Service) over here, and it's a good thing. Admittedly there are often quite long waiting lists, you can't guarantee to get the same quality of treatment as those who go private, etc. But it's helped several people. Take me, for example. The eye operation I had last year... The implant itself would have cost £500 ($1000) without the cost of having the operation performed, etc, too. Not to mention the return trips. I could never have afforded that. At best I'd have still been saving now while spending my time shut up in a dark room in pure agony. Sure, things like the NHS aren't perfect. And people do sometimes abuse the system. But they're still a good thing for many people. People who couldn't afford treatment without it.

Sheri said...

I don't think that the "reform" will be good for anyone. It is just a way for whomever it is that benefits from it more money - and I can guarantee you they will not get the same crappy medical care we all will.

Sarah said...

I don't think anyone should comment on this until they go WITHOUT health insurance for at least 3 years...oh yeah, and throw in an ER visit during those 3 years...THEN people can comment without being naive :)

Mary said...

I have a unique viewpoint since I'm a nurse, I see the struggles of patient co-pays...but my husband is in the military so I have, what many people call "free" healthcare...nothing is free.

I believe the problem stems from two points, the cost of medical school, and the lack of reimbursement from insurance companies.
1) Most physicians graduate with over $200,000 of debt from school and must find a way to recoup that debt, and still survive. It takes years before they start making enough money to finally stay a float and start getting ahead.
2) Most of the governement run insurance companies like Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare don't reimburse worth worth crap. So, you end up in a situation like the city I live in. There are so many people with the governement healthcare that the Pediatricians can only accept a certain percentage of those patients, or they will not be able to afford to stay open. This has caused many families in the area to have to travel up to 45 miles away to find a provider that will accept their government insurance...while they put their name on a waiting list for a local doctor.

With how mismanaged the current government healthcare is, I would hate to see the government gain more control. But, look at the success of religious/non-profit hospitals...it is quite perplexing.

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