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Is Medical Care Becoming Unaffordable?

Is Medical Care Becoming Unaffordable?

As the second enrollment period for insurance exchanges under the ACA opened in November, many people are feeling the squeeze of the financial burdens being placed on them. While the ACA (Obamacare, as it is commonly known) is pushing to eliminate the uninsured, it is doing so at the financial well-being of many Americans. The middle-class is especially bearing the brunt of this healthcare law. American citizens are now faced with tax penalties if they do not have medical coverage. While these penalties are currently minimal, they will increase over the next several years. Many people are purchasing insurance plans that they are not satisfied with just to avoid these penalties. I have seen many patients in my practice who simply cannot afford the premiums. With the economy in poor shape, many people don’t have extra cash to pay for a new added expense. Many are choosing to go without it and face the penalty. Others have purchased plans but are struggling to meet their monthly expenses. More people may be insured now, but many people are being burdened by this mandate. And it is not just the cost of the premiums that are assailing patients—many of the current plans have large deductibles. One of my patients canceled her appointment because her son got sick, and she could not afford to pay the deductible for herself and her son. I am seeing more and more of these high-deductible plans and patients self-rationing. It isn’t clear to many people until they are hit with a medical bill. And then they are left trying to get out from under this debt....
Improving ED Communication & Patient Throughput

Improving ED Communication & Patient Throughput

Among the many Affordable Care Act initiatives rumbling through the healthcare industry, the introduction of 30 to 40 million new patients is certain to create additional stress to an already overburdened healthcare system. As a result, hospitals must find ways to increase their patient throughput and operational efficiency. Unfortunately, inefficient inpatient discharge practices continue to create unnecessarily long hospital stays. Patient throughput in the ED impacts the rest of the hospital system. ED lengths of stay generally increase when hospital occupancy levels exceed 90%, so enhanced communication and patient throughput are vital throughout the acute care setting. Although many factors can hinder patient flow, nearly 70% of clinicians cite communication as the most challenging cause of patient throughput delays. EDs: The Communication Ground Zero Communication in the ED sets the course for patient flow throughout the hospital. Safe, efficient, quality care in the ED requires frequent and effective communication. Nearly half of EDs report operating at or above capacity, and wait times and patient visits have risen steadily for the last 20 years. Initial communication with ED patients must be a top priority. As soon as patients register at the ED, they must be clearly informed of their anticipated treatment. Early communication about details, such as estimated wait times, anticipated discharge times, and availability of immediate treatments for minor symptoms, can smooth transitions of care.  Intricacies are sometimes forgotten but have a tremendous impact on patient throughput. The physical design of individual patient rooms can greatly affect throughput. When rooms are well-designed and provide optimum flexibility, patients can receive faster, more efficient care. In order to save space for...

Use of Preventive Services Lacking Among Americans

CDC researchers have found that nearly half of American adults missed out on 15 key preven­tive services prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. The report, available at www.cdc.gov/mmwr, suggests that several other impor­tant disease states will likely improve should the ACA survive Supreme Court scrutiny. Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 15,...
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