Posted in Healthcare

Lack Of Medical Insurance Makes People Do Crazy Things

Last week I wrote a piece about what happens to people when they don’t have medical insurance and the troubles it creates in the long run.  I’m writing this piece because my fear is that those of you without insurance or even those of you who do but decide you know better than your doctor are often, literally, taking your life in your own hands.  I’m talking about taking responsibility for your health, but making life and death decisions that may not end up working in your favor.

The last post centered around my co-worker who is having serious side effects from his high blood pressure medication.  The Nurse Practitioner (NP) wanted him to come in for an EKG, but he’s currently working out-of-state and couldn’t go into the office.  Instead of finding a local medical facility to do the EKG, he has simply avoided the issue altogether.  The NP wanted him to call back in a few days, or sooner if he’s still having symptoms.  At this point-in-time he still hasn’t made that follow-up call.

On Tuesday I asked him if he’s still having symptoms and he replied in the affirmative.  He’d had some beers (not that he’s a big drinker) and then had to take another pill in the middle of the night.  Do you think he has called the NP to discuss the symptoms?  The answer is a big, fat, NO!!!

Here’s the difficult part, I don’t think he’s trying to place his health in danger, but I do believe he’s worried about what the medical bills will do to his financial situation.  Prior to this job he’d been out of work for 13 months.  The problem is that without medical care, five months of work won’t benefit his family in the long run if he’s permanently disabled or dies.  I keep wondering if he has a big life insurance policy to protect his family.

Since I can’t force him to go to the doctor all I can do is to continue to be inquisitive about his health.  perhaps if I’m persistent enough he’ll finally decide to take the actions he needs to protect his health and potentially his life.  My fear is that when people don’t have medical insurance they become, out of necessity, penny wise and pound foolish.  One trip to the emergency room will wipe him out financially, especially with the amount of tests they’ll end up running on him.

I guess I wouldn’t be hounding but he bought a new computer last week.  He can afford a computer, but can’t afford the EKG?  That’s something I just don’t understand and certainly wouldn’t approach him to explain.  When a computer is more important than your health what’s the message you’re sending to you body, to your loved ones, and to the world. 

I urge you to consider what you do because you don’t have health insurance, especially if you have some type of chronic or life-altering health challenge and how to make better decisions.  Find a social worker at a community health center who may know resource that can assist you for low-cost or no-cost  care.  Don’t wait for something to happen…this is the time to be pro-active.

I continually hope that my co-worker will wake up one day after having some symptoms and say to himself, “Gee, maybe I should look into this”.  I can’t insert thoughts into his head, but I can prime the pump,  but he’s got to make the final decision.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Good Doctor or Bad Patient?

Ever wonder why we tend to think in extremes?  Life is a continuum so where’s the gray in our black and white culture?  Why have we become at ease praising doctors for our health and blaming patients for the body’s refusal to accept the treatment regimen?  It’s an interesting dilemma and one that often puts patients and doctors at polarized ends of the continuum.

When can we create collaborative ventures?  How can you, the patient, be commended for your commitment and perseverance in striving for health?  How can we command respect from doctors so that our voice can be heard?  I believe that as patients we are just as responsible or our success as our medical team; after all they couldn’t be a success without us!

Why does blame come so easy?  Shouldn’t we be delving deeper into the patients narrative to see why treatments are as successful as we’d like them to be?  Are there parts of the story that we don’t hear, or don’t care to hear?  How could your story unlock the mysteries your medical team needs to propel you toward health and healing?

I know it’s a complicated issue, but medical training is changing.  We as patients have to remember that it could take the better part of a generation for these changing on patient-centric care to become prominent.  The old guard who were trained with the doctor-as-god model are slowly retiring and a new generation of medical professionals are showing up with a more collaborative consciousness. 

The rise of mid-level medical practitioners has been a huge boost to the collaborative mind-set.  Physician’s Assistants (PA) and Nurse Practitioners have led the charge in more interdependency between medical provider and patient.  They’re training emphasized the patient connection and that’s been a blessing for many of us who see multiple doctors.

Success doesn’t get a plus in the doctor’s column, and failure of treatment isn’t the patient’s fault.  If we as humans could negotiate with our cells and organs maybe that would be a different story.  Until that’s possible all you can do is employ health promoting behaviors and be empowered on your journey to wellness.