Major Cost Variations Between Hospitals for Stroke Care

The Washington Health Alliance in Washington State just published a report on significant cost variations between hospitals for stroke care. While this data is only for Washington State it mirrors national practices:  http://wahealthalliance.org/new-report-on-hospital-sticker-prices-reveals-tremendous-variation-among-hospitals-for-similar-procedures-and-treatments/

This is one reason I intend to offer a platform for patients:   http://www.madisonparktimes.com/Content/News/Top-Stories/Article/Creating-a-platform-for-patient-empowerment/26/284/29625

Kathleen O’Connor (c) October 1, 2014

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Gifts From A Stroke: Excerpts–Chapter 2: Rehabilitation: What You Should Know

My memory began to return when I was moved to Rehab…..I soon learned Rehab specialists are like drill sergeants and chief petty officers. Their job is to be sure I was “up and at ‘em.” They trained, trained, and re-trained so even the smallest task was embedded into my brain. They were to assure I would win on the battlefield of my recovery. Or at least have a fighting chance of surviving with my new normal….

There is a concept called “neuroplasticity” of the brain. The brain has the capability of healing depending on the injury. If a harmed patient is not challenged mentally or physically, however, the brain will not build new neural pathways to replace those lost or connect those torn apart….

Does everyone get…rehab care? And who pays for it? Turns out the answer is: It Depends…..

I was still in a life boat on strange seas, but by this time I had at least learned how to row even if I had no idea how I was going to get back to known shores…

What You Should Know: Continue reading

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Gifts From A Stroke: A Veteran’s Cancer Story

In the last post Gerrit said he had to take a loan against his house.  He had health insurance but he could not work.  He had mortgage and living costs in addition to medical.  Social Security will enroll people in Medicare if they are disabled.  It takes about a year to activate.  Here’s another story.  This time about a cancer patient who’s a veteran:  Continue reading

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Gifts From A Stroke: Gerrit’s Story

Gifts From A Stroke: A Hard Look At America’s Health Care is not just my story. It is podium for others to share their stories.  I will publish more stories as I finish my book. Here is Gerrit’s Story.  Please feel free to share: 

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My stroke experience began in August 2003 with what felt like a sudden crick in my neck.  The pain started interfering with my sleep and for some reason I would begin to black out if I held my head a certain way.  I went to see a chiropractor, but his neck manipulations did not help the pain.  He didn’t realize that he was actually aggravating a tear which had formed inside my vertebral artery, the real cause of my pain.  After three days of treatment I quit, but a clot began to form at the tear.

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Washington State Health Exchange Exceeds 2018 Projections

The Bi-Partisan Alliance for Health Reform in Washington DC features Washington State’s Health Exchange.  Washington State’s enrollment to date exceeded its 2018 projections.  See:  http://www.allhealth.org/  (September 2014)

Coming Soon:

Individual Stories: Gifts From A Stroke: A Hard Look At America’s Health Care. And excerpts of future chapters.
Questions You Should Ask:  whether a stroke or something as serious

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Health Care Technology, Innovation and Costs: Who Decides??

In June 2013, we raised the question about who decides coverage for health care technology, medications and devices. We even looked at the role of venture capital firms in health care treatments and their costs.

http://oconnorreport.com/2013/06/special-report-worth-the-cost-and-benefit-drugs-and-devices-who-decides/

If there were a question in all aspects of health care it would be: Who Decides? The answer always seems to be: It Depends, It Depends, It Depends.

But now it is not just us. The big guns are asking the same question and have some answers. Here’s what RAND has to say:

http://www.rand.org/pubs/periodicals/rand-review/issues/2014/summer/medical-innovation.html

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Gifts From A Stroke: A Hard Look At America’s Health Care–Chapter One

This begins my story and my hard look at America’s health care.  Why I write this is in the preface and at the end of this chapter.  It is not just my story.  There are other voices that will be heard. We can do policy paper after policy paper as we have since at least 1929-1932.  Without our voices nothing will happen. We need to be heard, not silenced by the system’s constraints or the rules of the game. After all, it is our lives and the lives of those we love.

Chapters will be published episodically.  Please read on to follow the journey.

Chapter One:  I Have No Business Being Alive–My Stroke

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Gifts From A Stroke: A Hard Look At America’s Health Care–What’s Ahead

Six months have passed since my stroke.  I have successfully graduated from all my therapies. For 30 years I have been a professional health care consumer advocate.  As such my passion has been to give people a voice in our often acrimonious health care world.   Often left in the lurch is the patient.  I knew that intellectually.  Then I became a patient—suddenly and unexpectedly.  That experience put personal flesh on the bone of my advocacy.

My advocacy was fueled by the death of my son who died in a car accident three days before Christmas 1991.  I did not want to be pitied so I focused my professional life as a patient consumer advocate.  I remember very specifically deciding: “When the worst thing that can happen to you has happened, it changes how you calculate risk.” 

And I inherited resilient family genes that fuel mine.

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It’s 1965: Contraceptives Now Legal for Married Couples

Contraceptives were not universally legal for married couples until a 1965  US Supreme Court Decision.   The Court gave a constitutional right to married couples to use contraceptives in Griswold vs. Connecticut:  http://family.findlaw.com/reproductive-rights/griswold-v-connecticut-and-the-right-to-contraceptives.html

In 1999 I was engaged in a cost/benefit analysis of contraceptive coverage and maternity costs for employers. The data is old the but the study raises some important economic questions and  considerations.  The costs need to be updated, but I am sure the economic impacts are similar: http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/1999/03/22/editorial3.html

Coming next–more in our health care accountability series.

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What Hospital Executives Earn: 2013 Update

Last year we examined Hospital CEO salaries in Washington State. Data from Washington State Department of Health. 

Here are the top earners for 2013 compared to 2012:

Gary Kaplan, MD, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle        $, 1,961, 263  <$1,776,415>

John Evans is no longer head of Central WA Med. Center         $   298,965    (other compensation)

Peter Rutherford, Administrator new Central WA Health         $    612, 703

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