How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Visit

jessie-gruman picI recently wrote about how common it is for those who work in and deliver health care – physicians, nurses, clinics and hospitals – to overestimate our knowledge about our bodies, our illnesses and how the health care system works. This overestimation of our familiarity happens with even the most seemingly simple and straightforward aspects of care, such as: Who is the nurse practitioner? Where is Dr. X’s office? When is “soon”? Why are you recommending this test?

To help people find good health care and make the most of it, CFAH has created a library of Be a Prepared Patient tips and resources including two videos. The two-minute video below shares tips for How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Visit by explaining how to effectively describe your symptoms in four key steps. Being prepared with this information will allow you and your doctor to discuss the best treatment for you, including next steps. (more…)

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What’s Hobby Lobby’s Real Agenda?

Displaying blogphoto.jpgIt has recently come to light that Hobby Lobby, currently embroiled in a legal debate over the federal mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, has significant investments in companies that produce the very contraceptives they’ve objected to in their lawsuit, leading many to claim that the lawsuit is hypocritical.  David Green, CEO and founder of the Oklahoma-based for-profit corporation claimed, that by ” being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow…We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.” Hobby Lobby claims that mandate forces the company’s owners to violate their religious beliefs or face heavy consequences including penalties, fines, and lawsuits. (more…)

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  • April 7th, 2014 The City of Brotherly Love and the Kids We Need to Love Better
    By Glenna Crooks
  • The Dilemma of Canceled Insurance Policies

    Trudy-Lieberman -- biggerBy now it’s hardly a secret that insurance companies have canceled the policies of millions of Americans whose old coverage did not comply with new benefit requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That is, the policies that did not offer coverage for services like maternity care, mental health treatment, physical therapy and hospital outpatient surgery that ACA supporters believed were essential for good, comprehensive health insurance.

    Since last fall, backlash against what was intended to be a good consumer protection measure has been fired up by TV and news stories telling tales of woe from people whose policies were canceled. Those who lost their policies complained about having to buy maternity coverage, for instance, when having a baby would never be in their future. As I explained in a previous post, they did not understand that the law also called for some cross-subsidization among policyholders to keep premiums reasonably affordable for everyone. All insurance products include some degree of this kind of risk-sharing across an insured group. (more…)

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    How (On Earth) I Got Into the Food Business

    If you had asked me when I was in medical school what the odds were of my starting a food company, they would have fallen somewhere between winning the lottery and being struck by lightning twice…on the same day.

    However, when I look back on my medical education, this actually speaks to a fundamental problem in how physicians are trained and in how we practice.

    Simply put, we don’t do food.

    Every day I’m astounded by what patients tell me they eat. Two doughnuts each day for breakfast? Six bottles of regular Coke a day? Dinner every night…out of a box? Zero fresh fruits or vegetables per week? Most food obtained from the gas station convenience store?  Nothing in my training ever prepared me for this.

    When a physician sees a patient with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, step one in the care plan is to encourage “eating better.” The problem with this advice is that the vast majority of patients either don’t know what it means to eat a healthy diet, or they simply can’t sustain it. (more…)

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    A Hand Up, Not a Handout: Paycheck to Paycheck and the Voice of 43 Million

    Janice Lynch Schuster

    Once, as a child, I remember crying at the sight of a commercial for CARE. In the old days, we did not have 24/7, real-time access to the suffering of others, and I suppose the shock of it hit me in some way.

    And then the years passed, and whether meaning to or not, we seem to have grown accustomed to what we see. As the entertainment industry grows ever more out-there in its portrayals of suffering, cruelty, and violence, the heart finds it better to harden, or be overwhelmed.

    Which is why I was so thrown off when, at a screening of the new HBO Documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life & Times of Katrina Gilbert, I burst into tears. The focus of the film is Katrina Gilbert, a 30-year old Southerner and single mother with three young children. Her story is meant to put a face on the numbers, the 42 million women The Shriver Report counts as being on the ever-present brink of abject poverty—and the 23 million young children who depend on them. (more…)

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    Look Who’s Coming Between You and Your Doctor

    Trudy LiebermanOpponents of health care reform, especially those who resist moving to a single payer system like Canada’s, have often used a very powerful argument to sway public opinion. Any significant changes, they warn, to America’s private insurance system would mean that the government will come between patients and their doctors by making decisions about the care Americans receive. Remember the fear and uproar stirred up over “death panels”?

    But what if it’s not the government that is inserting itself between you and your doctor? Since managed care appeared more than two decades ago, insurers have attempted to guide physicians’ behavior regarding the treatments and medicines patients could have. Many insurers required preapproval for some services, especially the costly ones. Utilization nurses sat in cubicles dispensing health information and saying yea or nay to your physician’s plans for your care. (more…)

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  • March 3rd, 2014 Health Care is Hurting My Business – and, Not in the Way You Might Think
    By Glenna Crooks
  • A Community in Need: Public Health in America

    I have been a practicing RN for the past five years. I am also a consumer of public health services.  My experiences have taught me an important lesson: despite reform efforts, health care disparities continue to exist in urban populations. This is especially true amongst the underinsured and uninsured.

    As both a consumer and practitioner in free clinics and health centers in Philadelphia, I can attest to the  disparities in access and quality of care that continue to exist. I recently left an abusive relationship in Harrisburg, PA and am in the process of securing housing and health insurance for myself. To compound upon these issues, I require daily medications and treatments for chronic illnesses, which without I cannot live or function properly, let alone work.  I rely on public health services. (more…)

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  • February 3rd, 2014 Surprised and Not Surprised
    By Glenna Crooks
  • January Man of the Month 2014: Dr. Dominic Mack

    Dr-Dominic-Mack“What if we had eliminated disparities in health in the last century? – Dr. David Satcher, 16th Surgeon General, United States of America.

    The mission of Morehouse College is to develop students with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service. The institution has more than held true to its mission and has acted as a stepping stone for some of America’s top African American leaders: Martin Luther King, JR; Regina Benjamin, former United States Surgeon General; and presidential hopeful Herman Cain.  

    Health reform legislation has made great progress in opening the door to communities that have historically had only limited access to health care resources. Yet, extreme disparities continue to exist. According to a Kaiser Foundation Report, people of color continue to “ experience worse access to health care and worse health outcomes than their white counterparts. The economic and opportunity costs associated with disparities are shared by everyone through money spent on preventable medical care and lost productivity in the workplace, among other things.” (more…)

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    The Work Behind the Work: Living Wages for Direct Care Works

    Janice Lynch Schuster

    In the digital age, there are few surprises, and we know that tonight’s State of the Union address is likely to confirm an executive order that will raise to $10.10 an hour the minimum wage paid to federal contractors that receive new awards.

    Clearly, any effort to reduce the ever-widening income gap is one step forward.

    But is it far enough? At $10.10 an hour, a full-time worker will gross about $400 per week or about $21,000 annually. While that is enough to lift one person above the federal poverty level, a family of four will remain below it. In the Washington metropolitan area, home to so many federal workers and contractors, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1,300. So a worker who expects to eat, drive, or ride a bus will need to apply for safety net care or find another job. (more…)


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    What If Health Engagement Was a System-Wide Requirement?

    Cyndy NayerThe conversation in health care blogs, C-Suites, and peer-reviewed articles is highlighted with “health engagement,” as though this is a new rubric. It’s been defined as aligned commitment toward a health goal that is set by someone or some entity.  Without engagement, there is no improved health.

    But the weight of engagement appears to be shouldered by the patient, who is portrayed as derelict in commitment, follow-through, or even literacy in the attainment of goals set by a system in which he or she is not a valued contributor. (more…)

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    Getting Diagnosed with Cervical Cancer

    Tamika Felder

    January is Cervical Cancer Month. According to the CDC, in 2010 11,818 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,939 women died from the disease. And while these statistics are disheartening, once the leading cause of death in women, cervical cancer has rapidly declined over the past 40 years.  The decline in cases can be attributed to preventative medicine: more women are getting regular Pap tests, which can find cervical precancer before it turns into cancer.

    Throughout the month, we will high light stories from patients, survivors, and advocates. Today, Tamika Felder shares her story…

    I started my cervical cancer journey April 12, 2001. I went in for a routine Pap—after not having had one for a few years for some pretty typical reasons: lack of insurance and body image issues.

    I got the shock of my life: a diagnosis of cervical cancer. This was devastating, to say the least. Cervical cancer came in and changed everything. Here I was, 25 years old, working in Washington, DC, as a successful television producer and having the time of my life. In an instant, without warning, that all changed. Instead of thinking about my next interview, I was thinking about the end of my life, with my hopes, wishes and dreams not yet fulfilled. At this early stage in my life, I could only think, “This is it?”
    I fell into a deep depression and retreated from most of my friends. How could they understand this when I didn’t even understand what was happening? (more…)

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    How Do We Disrupt Cycles of Violence While Simultaneously Supporting Youth?

    I think by now many people are aware of the negative effects of bullying on those who are bullied. Youth who are bullied are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Headaches, stomach pains, difficulty sleeping as well as increased risk of suicide or self-harm are among these. The numbers are high enough that government and health officials have taken note and have declared bullying to be a public health issue. Still, research has shown that implementing anti-bullying programs in schools and youth programs have not put an end to the torture many young people endure on a sometimes daily basis. (more…)

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