How to Put Patients First in Healthcare Reform

  • Continued from Part One, more discussion, prepared thoughts, and reactions from the bloggers in attendance at the event, "Putting Patients First" as hosted by Dr. Val, CEO of Better Health, LLC.

     

    Dr. Wes posted his prepared opening comments of which these statements make me personally want to cheer - “The honest truth is, if I could help the uninsured, and unemployed and chronically ill while preserving my relationship with you – I would. If I could solve these problems while preserving my love for medicine – and the devotion of my colleagues, I would.  Fortunately, I believe we can."

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    “But we can’t do that and continue to fund the gravy train. And that gravy train is the multi-billion dollar health insurance industry with executives who made over $24M annually in 2007, the $800B pharmaceutical industry with executive compensations of over 25 million dollars the same year, the over $24 billion spent in one year in our country on new hospital construction, the nearly half a billion dollars in political campaign contributions from health care special interests a single year (2008), and the 55-80% increase in malpractice insurance premiums that your doctors have paid over the past 5 years.”

     

    I also especially enjoy reading the comments from Mother Jones, RN who blogs at "Nurse Ratched’s Place" - “Every blogger expressed their personal viewpoint about healthcare reform at the conference. The bloggers were not told what to say, and I was not told what to tweet, or what comments to make before, during, or after the conference. We came to D.C. to add our voices to the healthcare debate. No, I didn’t agree with everything that I heard during the conference. I thought a lot of the information presented by the keynote speakers was bunk. I’m in favor of a public option healthcare reform bill, and I don’t like the disinformation being spread via partisan politics about this important issue. I get infuriated when members of Congress from both sides of the aisle play partisan politics while my patients languish in a healthcare system that’s literally killing them. I’m really very frustrated, and I’m just like everyone else in this country that wants to give our politicians a good swift kick in the butt. What gives me hope is seeing good people from both sides of this debate coming together at a healthcare blogger conference in Washington, D.C. Healthcare providers truly want to put patients first.”

     

    She was one of the folks stationed in the “Twitter Gallery.”  A blogger who couldn't attend, Robin of "Survive the Journey", created a transcript of all the tweets related to the conference.  Visit her blog post to access the .pdf. Thanks Robin for doing so much work.  Another Twitterer, Evan Falchuk of the "See First Blog", posted a great round-up of reactions to the conference.

     

    A final member of the Twitter Gallery was Kerri Morrone Sparling of "Six Until Me" whose round-up goes directly to the heart of the discussion: Government Health Care.  Her readers provide excellent commentary on the issue, especially those who have lived in the US and elsewhere.

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    Even I created a couple of blog posts following the event which can be found at my personal blog, "Brass and Ivory" - "Lisa Goes to Washington" and Not a Typical Patient.  Basically, my questions stemmed from the financial information I collected and presented in my most recent HealthCentral post - “The Annual Cost of My Chronic Illnesses."

     

    Kim of "Emergiblog", never shy to say she is definitely NOT for a single-player plan run by the government, ended her summary making an excellent point - “I’ll say one thing: no matter what we believe, why we believe it or what our role is in the health care system, it is a conversation rife with strong opinions and passionate debate.  And, in the end, because we are all patients in one form or another at some point in our lives, the conversation is about us.  So, when you hear the phrase ‘putting patients first,’ think of it as ‘putting me first.’  That may help you get a foothold in the morass of information that is the health care debate.  It worked for me.”

     

    Finally, from one Canadian I respect comes - “Yes America! I Like My Healthcare.”

     

    So I ask you, what do you think?  Do you enjoy your current health care as it is?  Do you have employer-sponsored group coverage?  On your spouse's coverage?  On a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid? 

     

    What does it cost you personally to access the care you need?  Can you access the care you need affordably?  Do you avoid getting the care you need?  Do you ever receive care which is not necessary, or is frivolous, just because insurance or 'someone else' pays for it?  If so, what?

     

    What would make the largest difference to you personally in reforming health care as it is in the United States?  What would make a difference in your community?  What would make a difference for your financial future?

     

    Do you live outside of the United States?  If so, what do you like or dislike about your health care?  What is of the greatest concern to you personally when dealing with your health, assuming you have at least one chronic illness, and the financing of accessing care from providers, including pharmaceuticals and devices?

     

    If you know or can find the answer, how much do you pay for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses?  How much does 'someone else' pay for your insurance premiums and medical expenses?  Is it easy or difficult for you to find this information?

     

    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: July 27, 2009