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.
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:
Posted in consumer protection, Health Care Reform, health insurance, hospitals, Medicare, patients' voice, policy and politics, technology, technology and pharmaceutical costs, Uncategorized
Tagged affordable care act, business, Committee on the Costs of Medical Care, complexity of care, doctors, drugs, economics, health care, health care costs, health care quality, health care reform, health insurance, health policy, illness, insurance, medical care, medications, pharmacy, physicians, venture capital
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
Posted in consumer protection, emergency rooms, Health Care Reform, health insurance, hospitals, Medicare, patients' voice
Tagged complexity of care, doctors, health care, health care costs, health care quality, health care reform, health insurance, hospitals, illness, medical care, Medicare, medications, nurses, physicians
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.
Posted in consumer protection, emergency rooms, health insurance, hospitals, patients' voice
Tagged affordable care act, complexity of care, consumer health choices, consumer voice, health care, health care costs, health care quality, hospitals, medical care, Medicare, patients, strokes, sudden illness, trauma
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.
Posted in business, consumer protection, Health Care Reform, health insurance, health promotioin, patients' voice
Tagged business, business leaders, consumer voice, economics, health care, health care costs, health care equity, health care quality, health insurance, health policy, public health
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
Today marks either the day I had my stroke or the day I fell unconscious on the floor for nearly three days before being rushed to Harborview. EMT’s, Harborview and friends saved my life.
I am writing a book now that takes a hard look at our health care system. It stems from being an outside observer/reporter to being a patient. My question is: what happens to people who don’t have the coverage, options or networks I have? And who benefits in such as system? Stay tuned. Details to come.
I remain passionate about accountability. Here is a link to an earlier O’ConnorReport on this issue:
Posted in emergency rooms, health insurance, patients' voice, technology and pharmaceutical costs, Uncategorized
Tagged complexity of care, drugs, economics, health care, health care costs, health care quality, health insurance, medical care, Medicare, patient care, politics
A recent New York Times article focused on the real cost in health care–Administrator and Executive Salaries. We looked at that in 2013 and wondered about accountability? The issue still remains. Who holds the boards that set the salaries accountable for costs and community benefit? Here is the recent article and what we found last year:
Here’s what we found last year.
Hello, I just learned this week that my outlook is exceptionally good. My neurologist said I should have nearly a 100% recovery. That said, I have to pace myself and not rush headlong into life, as I am prone to do.
There are not enough words in any language to say ‘thank you’ to a remarkable woman: Marsha who was my health care COO; ran interference for me when I could not; was my voice when I was voiceless. Nor are there enough words of thanks to so many other friends—Sandy, an MD who started early e-mail updates; Gene and Liz who were thrown suddenly into the mess of my life and helped in immeasurable ways. And especially my friend Karen who literally saved my life by calling a friend who called the manager who found me. I am still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together of what happened. I may never know. I do know I would be dead if I were not social and engaged in the community.
A stroke changes your life. I won’t go back to the health care policy arena fight. I am not one to fiddle with policy minutiae—it upsets me, which is not good for a healing brain. I am going back, however, to my real passion—the consumer, the patient.
I have been given many gifts I would never have suspected. I want to return those gifts with a new book. It will be called: Gifts From A Stroke: Finding the Nub of Life©. I can be an interpreter and voice for patients and share lessons I would never have learned otherwise.
You have not heard from me since January because I had a major stroke. It was most probably January 19th, but I was found and taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center on January 21st. I was in assisted living from February 11 to March 2nd when I returned home, with care. It is a miracle I am alive. By all rights I should be dead. But I’m not.
Ironically I was working on all the pieces I should have had in place before the stroke. I now have them in place. You should have them as well if you live alone or have family and friends who do.
I am just flat out miraculously lucky. I have friends who worried when I had not called back or returned e-mails for a day or so—“that’s not like Kathleen.” A friend called a friend who called the manager of the complex where I live. The manager found me and I gather I was every shade of purple, green and blue that can be imagined. I was lying on the floor and luckily still, but barely, breathing. By all rights I should be dead. By all rights I should not be able to write this at all.
A story ran Thursday night (1/9/14) about the new billing code at American hospitals, called “observation care.” I hope you can open this without the accompanying commercial ad. Basically, the story is about the problem of the new billing code for seniors in hospitals–called observation care. If a patient is in observation care, their subsequent care in a rehab facility is not covered because rehab care requires ‘in patient’ hospital care according to existing Medicare rules and regulations.
What is missing from this story, told only by hospital association executives and a patient is why hospitals started this new billing practice.
Last year, for the first time, hospitals were fined by Medicare if there were too many re-admissions of patients who had recently had surgery. By changing the coding to “observation,” patients are not technically re-admitted to in-patient care, and therefore, the hospitals are not subject to fines by Medicare.
Posted in consumer protection, emergency rooms, Health Care Reform, health insurance, hospitals, Medicare, policy and politics
Tagged affordable care act, economics, health care, health care costs, health care quality, health care reform, health insurance, hospitals, illness, insurance, Medicare, politics