Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday -- Again

Last week was so difficult -- even more than usual.  Not, as some of you thought from my last post, because of how it affected me, but because of all the tragedy I see, because there are no answers for too many people, because the "system" seems to just assume that some percentage of people will fall through the cracks, even when the problem truly is about life and death.  There is only so much anybody can do in this system.  We do the best we can -- more than most, often with great success.  But we know that we can't help everybody who comes to us for help.  Even more, we know there are thousands -- maybe millions -- who need our help but don't know we exist (and if they did, we would not be able to manage that caseload).  Some weeks, that picture is clearer than others.  Last week was such a week.

But we persevere . . . and begin with the news.

We rely on science to inform our relationship with our health.  New cancer drugs abound -- one for melanoma, one for breast cancer, one for prostate cancerOne that helps the immune system fight cancer.  And much confusion among the terminally ill about how they will dieGenetics helps us predict diseases, but will it help us prevent and/or cure them?

What good is science, though, if we can't get treatment to patients in need?  High deductible plans become more popular.  Popular with employers, sure, because they drive down premiums.  But what about the worker who has to come up with $7500 every year for medical care before their insurance kicks in?  These folks are not going to the doctor, not taking their medicine -- and if you think you will control health costs this way, think again when they end up in the hospital and their care costs real money.  Massachusetts has shown that covering the uninsured is a piece of cake when compared to the challenge of cutting costs.  But even covering the uninsured has become fraught with doubt in light of the Supreme Court's impending ruling, although there is no doubt that, if health reform is allowed to take effect in 2014, it will mean coverage and subsidies for millions of Americans.  Indeed, the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan already has provided coverage for some who could not find coverage before.  But will that go away with a stroke of the Supreme Court's pen?

Rays of light -- UnitedHealthcare will rebate $3.5 million to small businesses in California, and Anthem, Blue Shield and Kaiser owe about $50 million in rebates in California alone -- and expect similar rebates elsewhere as the medical loss ratio rule -- part of health reform -- begins to bear fruit for consumers.  California is moving forward in creating its health insurance Exchange, as we, too, are doing here in Connecticut -- a move that will make it easier for consumers and small businesses to purchase health insurance.  A child of 11 years old runs with cerebral palsy -- and shows us all what courage looks like.  And a dog helps a child manage her diabetes.

Things can get better.  If all of us do whatever we can to help, things WILL get better.  Jennifer

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