On The Horizon

These are turbulent times for healthcare. We are paying too much on all fronts. There have been some phenomenal breakthroughs, like personalized medicine, but for every step forward, it feels like we take a step back. Measles, once thought eradicated, have returned. And recently, the British Medical Journal released a study that found a lot of people who had knee surgery, a common and longtime treatment for certain issues, saw no improvement. But the future is now. What is on the near horizon that could change healthcare for the better?

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Get What You Deserve

How do you want to be treated in a relationship with your provider? I was never bullied. It would have been difficult had anyone been inclined. Out-of-control diabetes took me out of school an average of 40 days a year. And I was always treated like a little adult by my teachers and parents’ friends – also a side effect of my early triumph over medical adversity, for better or worse. But it took a long time for me to understand how I wanted to be treated, how I deserved to be treated, by medical professionals. In fact, I had to be taught by a few special providers that my relationships with my medical team should be no different than any other professional relationship – framed by mutual respect, supported by teamwork, and undaunted by judgment or questions, even if they came in an avalanche.

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Where Do We Stand in 2019?

The short answer – on shaky ground. While having a two-party government instead of just one party in charge will slow what damage this administration can do to healthcare policy, it also means that unless there is some kind of revolt in the Republican party, very little will be passed on the Federal level. In the meantime, the administration can change things through the agencies (like cutting the advertising budget for Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act so fewer people will sign up) and the states will go their own ways.

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Does your Chrismukkah suitcase sound like you’re carrying a pharmacy?

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the holidays are here. When I travel home, we don’t have any more tension than the average dysfunctional family. There’s no yelling or alienating political discussion (we all know what to expect from the others). There are small celebrations to suit a small family. Sometimes I even forget to light Hanukkah candles. Because I forget it’s Hanukkah for all eight days. But, I do enjoy the time with my family, usually at Thanksgiving.

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Gobbledygook

I am blessed to have some really close friends on whom I can count for unconditional support. One is basically a copy of me, just with different anatomy. We even share a birthday. Although, maybe he is slightly rougher around the edges. Last time I saw him, he told me he was going to have back surgery in March. This is progress – I usually don’t hear about these kinds of things until after the fact, which drives me nuts. But this time, he needed my help. He had no idea what was going to be covered by his insurance plan or how much it would ultimately cost.

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Lest We Forget

George H.W. Bush was nothing if not a flawed man and politician. As someone said this week, he would be the second to admit it, right after his wife. But he is also our most recent one-term president, in large part because he approved raising taxes when he said he wouldn’t – doing what was right for the country even knowing that it would end his political career. We have heard a lot about his accomplishments and failures this week as the country eulogizes and mourns him, but one thing I have not heard mentioned in any of the news coverage is the accomplishment that impacts me the most -- the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Opportunity Costs

There are lots of costs to consider when choosing a new health plan. It’s not just premiums, or even deductibles or co-pays or coinsurance. It’s also the cost we pay in time. Calls to the insurance company checking what’s covered, figuring out what happened to the prescription we renewed, submitting out-of-network reimbursement forms, and on and on. All of that takes time you could be using to live your life

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Grateful

We had early Thanksgiving this year. It was awesome. I shared a room with my niece and nephews, like a giant sleepover. I was perfectly willing to sacrifice a little sleep when the 2-year-old popped up at six in the morning calling, “Wake up, guys. Wake up, guys. Wake up guys.” Best alarm clock ever!

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