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The Healthcare Debate and You

adrouin March 1st, 2010, 1:38 PM
Amy Dixon, BSN, RN, After Hours Supervisor, Customer Care Center
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The ongoing debate about Healthcare Reform conjures up a lot of concern regarding the state of our healthcare in the future. As the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement age, there will be more people requiring care later in life in an already stressed healthcare system. The cost of healthcare continues to rise while hospital organizations, healthcare providers, and politicians figure out a way to treat more people while keeping costs down. It truly is a complex multi-faceted issue.

I watched a large portion of the Healthcare Summit on Thursday through my eyes as a registered nurse. Of course I’m always struck by personal stories of people’s experiences with healthcare as it was case studies throughout my nursing practice that have helped me learn the most. However frustrating it may be to witness and try to understand the politics behind healthcare policy, I am satisfied that healthcare access is finally being discussed in our country. It is something that we will all require at some point in our lives! No one will be immune to a healthcare issue.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to this great debate, nor do I wish to partake in a heated discussion as I realize there are so many intricacies of this great healthcare problem. I will say that seeing all this media coverage about healthcare (sometimes frenzied media coverage. If it’s too much, turn it off!) is a chance for all of us to be empowered to learn more about the system. Gone are the days that we leave our healthcare decisions solely up to the physicians who may write a prescription and send us on our merry way. There’s insurance coverage to take into consideration. The cost of medications and more. We need to become our own best patient advocates.

It may be a frightening time for some, not knowing how all of this will play out and how it will affect you or your family, but I encourage you to use this time as an opportunity to educate yourself about your elderly parents’ insurance, your loved one’s illness, and their coping strategies for dealing with illness. Do the same for yourself. Keep in mind that resources for education are plentiful and available, even if it’s from a good book or the internet. Ask questions too!

No matter what happens in our country regarding healthcare, the majority of nurses, doctors, social workers, and healthcare professionals still want to help people. As I talk to other nurses, the notion of helping someone still remains one of the main reasons they went into the profession in the first place. We’re all in this together!

Take care and be well.

Discussion

  • I agree with you that we all need to become our own advocates. I think we will see this more and more as boomers move from being the decision-maker for their elderly parent to making their own health care decisions for themselves. But it isn’t easy to get educated, whether its about insurance or medications or treatment options — its so much easier just to believe the expert knows all. But you’re right — we need to read, to search the Web and to ask questions like you recommend. Read any good books on the subject lately?

  • Thanks for the comment, Michael.

    I can share my current read which is Dr. Andrew Weil’s “Why Our Health Matters: A Vision Of Medicine That Can Transform Our Future”. In it’s early chapters, the book offers a helpful explanation of the debate at hand. Dr. Weil lists additional book recommendations and resources in the Appendix.

    As far as Medicare info, try Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/medicare.html
    and http://nihseniorhealth.gov/medicare/faq/faqlist.html

    Medicaid Resource for New York State: http://www.health.state.ny.us/health_care/medicaid/reference/mrg/

    Also, private insurers each have their own website. I would recommend reviewing your insurance provider’s websites regularly and glancing through the resource books given to you by employers to better understand coverage.

    I agree with you! It’s overwhelming and a lot of information to take in.

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