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April 22

Health Care, Confusing and Costly

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Filed under Health Insurance | 2 Comments

How can an exam which took about 20 minutes total and resulted in a clean bill of health equal over a $2,000 bill? Such is the nature of health care in our country where treatment is itemized and results in confusing, and costly, bills. For those lucky enough to have health insurance, this cost is paid to some degree by the insurance company. However, a family of four can run you in the neighborhood of $1,500 or more a month depending on the company, the coverage, and other factors. Americans pay twice as much for health care as countries like Germany and the Netherlands which enjoy a universal system. The problem is compounded as cost continue to rise, seemingly unchecked, crushing many small business and leaving far too many in a state of bankruptcy. Much of this cost results from the many people involved in the process such as the provider, the biller, the insurance company, the hospital, etc. It may be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, with costs compounding with each person a case has to go through between a treatment being provided and a bill being paid. How can we simplify our health care system and bring costs back to a reasonable range?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 11:11 am and is filed under Health Insurance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Health Care, Confusing and Costly”

  1. Lisa Hise on April 22nd, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    My husband found this article and I think it is a very important matter which needs to be addressed to keep this from happening to many americans today. Although there are instances where legal americans have to wait up to 72 hours to be seen in emergency rooms in hospitals today and at some hospitals they are turned away due to the fact of not insurance. Please take the time to read the following and tell me if this is what American health care is coming to…

    Absurd policy on ER service must be fixed

    The StarPhoenix April 22, 2009

    We were told three years ago that the Saskatoon Health Region had written a policy on what to do with patients who show up at the emergency room even just minutes before City Hospital’s part-time ER opens.

    Apparently that bizarre little policy — to call an ambulance — applies even when the ER is open.

    This week The StarPhoenix reported that when Saskatoon contractor Ken Olson informed City Hospital ER staff that a man in a hospital gown had collapsed just outside the door, rather than take steps to help the unfortunate soul or even see what was wrong, their first response was to phone 911.

    That, according to Patti Simonar, director of emergency and critical care services for the health region, is standard procedure. Emergency Room personnel at City Hospital apparently aren’t equipped to deal with an emergency.

    There was no attempt on their part to assess the patient’s condition, to get a gurney or back-brace to the scene, or even to rush out and triage the patient. That is an assessment apparently better handled by paramedics in an ambulance that’s four to six minutes away, rather than by emergency doctors and nurses on hand whom most Saskatoon residents believed until now are trained to deal with medical emergencies.

    This isn’t the first time people at City Hospital’s emergency department opted to call for help rather than offer their own expertise. In March 2006, Ron Bitz, in the midst of suffering a significant heart attack, showed up at the hospital’s ER department 10 minutes before it was officially to open for the day.

    He was made to cool his heels outside, with an ambulance crew working on him until the doors were unlocked. Ever since City Hospital stopped offering 24-hour emergency service, explained Dr. Paul Hayes, then medical director of emergency services for the health region, a policy had been put in place that would leave the off-hour triaging of such patients to a switchboard operator and security guards.

    “We know that before 9 o’clock, you may not have all of the staff and support services you need to treat a life-threatening emergency at City Hospital,” Deb Gudmundson, general manager of emergency services for the health region, told The SP at the time. While such a highly bureaucratic response might be reasonable in the middle of the night, when it’s hours before someone qualified to deal with an emergency shows up to work at City Hospital and it’s much quicker to rush a patient to one of Saskatoon’s other two hospitals, Mr. Bitz showed up 10 minutes before the doors were opened.

    But apparently flexibility and common sense haven’t been incorporated into the health region’s policies. Better to have someone suffer serious injury or death than to take responsibility for opening 10 minutes early.

    As silly as that rationale was, the argument being put forward now is even weaker. We are told that emergency room personnel dare not pop their heads out their front doors to see what’s happening with one of their patients for fear that it could result in some danger to staff or the patient. It’s absurd enough that someone in that emergency department opted to dial 911 than do the logical thing. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment a bad decision can be made. And in this instance, the security officials who saw to the man’s welfare were able to offer assistance.

    According to Health Minister Don McMorris, the case also ended well in that the patient didn’t suffer any serious health problems because of the decision.

    What is more distressing, however, is Ms. Simonar’s response that this irrational response is not only the policy in Saskatoon but reflects what’s in place across Canada. To his credit, Mr. McMorris no sooner learned of the incident in City Hospital’s ER than he contacted each of Saskatchewan’s 12 health regions and asked that common sense be incorporated into their policies to ensure such a thing shouldn’t happen again.

    But whether the ministry will have any luck is still anyone’s guess. After all, after Mr. Bitz’s case came to light, then Health minister Len Taylor of the NDP government promised to review procedures to inject some humanity and common sense into the process of emergency evaluations.

    This happened only after the Saskatchewan Party then in Opposition hammered the government daily over such shortcomings in the provincial health system. On Tuesday, it was NDP critic Judy Junor taking Mr. McMorris to task.

    The government has established a commission to conduct a patients-first review of Saskatchewan’s health-care system, with the view to address issues from the consumer’s perspective.

    Before that can be effective, however, there has to be a complete overhaul of the health region’s communication strategy that ignores all logic in striving to justify the unjustifiable.

  2. lil rounds on April 22nd, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Lil says holla at your boy..

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