Category Archives: Health

Medical Collections

Medical CollectionsMedical Collections is going to be the next big battlefield between Health Care Corporations and Patient Privacy.

I read a NY Times article today about this topic. It really burned my biscuits.

Picture this…

You show up in the emergency room with a serious injury. You’ve had dealings with this hospital before and have a big outstanding bill you can’t pay.

A so-called “Nurse” or “Hospital Administrator” shows up and starts using strong arm collection tactics to get you to pay your balance, throwing around your medical file like confetti and tossing out past medical procedures like it was anyone’s business.

You are threatened with non-treatment if you don’t get the past bill paid.

The heat is on and you don’t know what to do.

You’ve just been had. The person you were just dealing with is likely not even an employee of the hospital. You have just dealt with a professional bill collector under contract with one of several “Medical Collections” firms around the country.

Forget for a moment that mis-representing yourself as anything other than a bill collector is a crime. Medical collections is not a valid reason to turn anyone away.

Also, forget for a moment that violating HIPAA patient privacy laws are illegal and subject to a $500,000 fine for every occurrance. (Not to mention the individual and corporate liability exposure.)

Also remember it’s a crime for a hospital to turn away anybody in need of emergency treatment for any reason including past debt. They have to treat you.

Apparently this is becoming a wide-spread practice.

Next time you go to the emergency room make sure you have a family member with you to verify topics of conversation with anyone that enters the room. Better yet. I think it’s a good practice to record the whole emergency room experience so you will have a record for future court cases.

Of course it may not be so bad when the new health care laws go into effect and the IRS is tasked with collections. Smoke that for a bit and see how it tastes.

 

 

Obamacare Turns 2

ObamacareOn March 21, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

“After a century of striving, after a year of debate, after a historic vote, health care reform is no longer an unmet promise. It is the law of the land.”
– President Barack Obama

The law and everything surrounding it is just way too vast and convoluted to go into here. Like many Americans, I’m not sure what’s in it or what it means to me. I do know this.

Health Care amounts to roughly 16% of the U.S. Economy. The idea that the Federal Government, with all its bureaucratic twists and turns could not effectively manage “Cash for Clunkers.”

Here was a simple rebate program designed to give citizens a financial incentive to buy new cars (our government just took over GM and wanted to sell some cars.) In the nine months of the active program the program cost three times the original government estimate. Lawmakers had to add over two billion in funding to cover the shortfall.

What happens to Obamacare if the cost estimates are low by the same differential? The Government Budget Office has already come out and said the original cost estimates were low by several hundred billion dollars.

You would think we would learn from our mistakes. When Medicare was passed in 1965 the federal government estimated it would cost $12 billion in 1990. Medicare actually cost $110 billion in 1990.

With the election battle in full bloom and Obamacare repeal efforts winding its way through the court system, there is no promise the health care reform will stand as is.

By the time Obamacare turns four we will finally know the truth… maybe.

Article from the Wall Street Journal – ObamaCare’s Costs are Soaring

The New Food Pyramid

The new food pyramidIn 2011 the Department of Agriculture and the FDA launched a snazzy new icon to represent the new food pyramid.

I’ve been to Giza. I’ve seen the pyramids. This looks more like a fruit and veggie pizza with a milk chaser. Oh it’s pretty and all but calling this a pyramid is like calling the Grand Canyon a soccer field. It’s not even close.

I liked the old pyramid. It was simple and easy to remember. It didn’t require a masters degree in nutrition. It was like a good friend, generous and always there.

The Old Food PyramidI spent my time near the ground where I had firm footing and lots of grainy choices.  I was assured by having anywhere from 6-11 servings of pasta and cereal I was getting a balanced diet.

I love pasta.

I counted French Fries as a veggie. Hey, if it comes out of the ground it’s got to be a veggie, right? If a potato is a fruit, I’m a stringbean.

What I missed about the whole French Fry/Veggie business is the cooking process. I stayed so close to the ground I couldn’t see that little point on top. The one that says, “Use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly.”

When you’re faced with a slice of four layer chocolate cake it’s nearly impossible to recall such an important fact. I love chocolate.

I like lettuce and tomato but they won’t do what a good piece of Red Velvet cake will do.

So over the years my belt kept trying to tell me I was working the pyramid wrong. My bread basket was turning into a food pantry. And then in 2002 I quit smoking and within months I was up fifty pounds. I had a beer belly built with pasta and pie.

To quote a fitness guru of years past I finally decided to “Stop the Madness!”

I’ve been doing a steady daily diet of fruits, veggies and protein. Since the beginning of October I’m down nearly forty pounds.

I miss pasta and chocolate cake. I don’t miss the pounds. I wish the new food pyramid did not look like a pizza. I wish grapefruit tasted like Red Velvet cake. I miss Red Velvet cake. Goodbye old friend.

Gluttony Happens

Thanksgiving DinnerI’m not entirely sure why they call gluttony one of the seven deadly sins. I was gluttonous last night. I’m still here.

Let’s face it folks. I love to eat. I love to eat everything that is not good for you to eat. If the food is about comfort, sign me up. Salad is good but it won’t do what chocolate cake will do. You can only eat so much chicken-of-the-sea and if I open one more can I’m going to hack up a tuna.

The fact of the matter is I’ve been dieting for the last several weeks. I’ve lost around 40 pounds since the summer. Truth be known I could stand to lost about another 40 pounds.

If Thanksgiving was once a month I’d never make it. Holiday eating is as American as Baseball and Jazz. You might as well rename Christmas to the National Celebration of Gluttony. Long live chocolate covered cherries and egg nog. A fruit cake in every basket – a turkey in every stocking.

There just seems to be a global obsession with food every December. It even works its way into the songs we sing. (You could make a game of it by guessing the correct song.)

  • Eight maids a milking
  • Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
  • It’s a marshmallow world in the winter
  • Your brain is full of spiders – you’ve got garlic in your soul
  • Everybody knows a turkey
  • Now the goose is on the table and the pudding made of pig
  • Later we’ll have some pumpkin pie and we’ll do some caroling
  • Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
  • I’ve bought some corn for popping

So it’s not just me, although I to tend to get more than my fair share around the feast. Gluttony is a national pastime, just like baseball. The prolification of Big & Tall stores should be all the evidence needed of expanding waistlines everywhere.

The diet is officially on hold until January. Slice me off a sip of that fruitcake.

 

Dieting

DietingIf I’ve been a little cranky this month attribute it to my diet.

It’s true, I needed to get off a few pounds. Okay, maybe a little more than a few. Truth is I was/am/continue to be way overweight. I put on a lot of weight when I quit smoking back in 02 and just haven’t been able to. No, that’s not true. It’s more like I haven’t been willing to do anything about getting it back off. And have I paid the price.

My BP skyrocketed, my back pain went into overdrive, and I just all around started feeling lethargic and lackadaisical. Tying shoes was becoming a real chore. The worst of it was how it was affecting my breathing. A walk in from the parking lot to the store had me winded.

Finally I gave in and internally screamed… “Stop the madness!”

With my doctor’s blessings I went on the HCG plan. I’m not going into a big description here. If you want to know more, look it up. Suffice it to say – It works!

Even with a few stall days over the last week I am down 33 pounds in 27 days. The plan is pretty aggressive for the first 30 days. Thankfully those days are about done and I can bring my calorie count up to a more sane level. I’d like to be down 35 when I get to the 30 day mark. If not, 33 is nothing to sneeze at. Today is an apple day hoping to inch myself onto that poundage by Monday.

What benefits am I feeling so far?

  • On the walk from the parking lot to my doctor’s office I barely got winded.
  • I wore a shirt the other night that I haven’t had on in about two years.
  • The back has improved.
  • I simply feel better.

So coming up on the holidays, what’s the plan? Not eat like a pig and keep an eye on the weight. I can always adjust what I am eating if I see it drifting up.

Really I’m not all that cranky. Really I’m not.

Sleepless nights

Look at the clock. 3:00 a.m. Can’t sleep.

Allergies acting up. Sneeze….sniffle….sneeze again.

Get up. Piddle on the computer.

Post this blog.

This might be all you get today.

Sneeze!

The dog is giving me a look that says, “What are you doing up?”

Can’t sleep. Can’t eat.

Riding to the city in the morning to see my doctor. I’ll look like hell. I’m sure he’s used to it. Going to be cold. My first leather-up ride of the season. Things are looking up.

I love the fall. I would just rather be loving it in my dreams right now.

FDA Goes for Shock and Awe

Beginning September 2012, FDA will require larger, more prominent cigarette health warnings on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the United States. These warnings mark the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years and are a significant advancement in communicating the dangers of smoking.

Now I don’t know about you but I think we all have heard the message. When I smoked I saw all the ugly lung pictures and heard the doctor’s warnings about smoking and it never phased me.

On their website the FDA says: “The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a significant public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy, and lower medical costs.” I think that’s (cough)(cough)bullshit(cough). If the FDA thinks putting ugly pictures on cigarette packages is going to make a bit of difference to cigarette smokers then they are smoking something besides cigarettes.

The only thing that is going to get cigarette smokers to quit is the cigarette smoker. You have to want to quit and I don’t mean you look in the mirror and say to yourself I want to quit — before lighting up the next one. I mean right down in the core, down in the addiction machine inside the smoker where you have to flip the quit switch. It’s there but most smokers have a tough time finding it. I know I did. (I’ve been cigarette free since Nov 2002.)

It wasn’t about the warning on the pack, the ugly lung picture or the thought that my second hand smoke was affecting someone else. It was simply “I wanted to be a non-smoker more than I wanted to be a smoker.” At the end of a smoke filled day it really has to come down to that.

For a rundown of all the new FDA photos go HERE.

Man Robs Bank of $1.00 to Get Health Care

Last week a North Carolina man walked into a branch of the RB&C Bank in Gastonia intent on robbery.

James Verone is not your typical bank robber. He was not armed. He didn’t wear a mask. He did have a note asking for $1.00. After getting the dollar he told the teller he would be waiting in the chair by the door.

In a simple act of desperation, 59 year-old Verone robbed the bank hoping the means would justify the end. Broke and needing medical attention he came up with a plan. It went something like this:

  1. Rob bank of $1.00.
  2. Serve 3 years for bank robbery.
  3. Get out at age 62 and file for Social Security.
  4. Move to Myrtle Beach and work on tan.

In some ways you have to admire his willingness to work the system. They make movies about guys like this.

The story behind this story is the one that really grabs me. We can put a man on the moon. We are the richest country on the planet. We arguably have the best colleges and universities putting out the brightest and the best.

And we can’t figure out how to get health care for the needy. Between the greedy insurance underwriters, lawyers and drug companies, we have created a medical behemoth that is strictly for the haves — the have nots be damned.

There might also be a fly in Mr. Verone’s ointment. Because he only took a dollar hs is not being charged with bank robbery, only larceny, so his sentence may fall way short of three years. Guess he might have to misbehave and hope for a tack on.

On a side note the prison doctor has accused Verone of manipulating the jail system. To that I would ask…. “Your point being?”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwrE0s6ovS0]

Eyeball update

It’s been almost three weeks since the surgery on my eye to remove a cataract. I thought it was time to give an update.

My old good eye is now my bad eye, although still pretty darn good. The surgery went well and I can see ten-times better. On my first post-op visit two weeks ago I was complaining about a slight double vision in the surgical eye. The surgeon gave it a good look and then offered a scenario where, because of the higher than normal pressure in that eye, I was probably having some swelling along the incisions. This would have the affect of giving some visual aberrations that should go away as the swelling goes down.

I think it’s safe to say she was right. Those doublings seem to have gone away.

So now I have lens inserted into both eyes. The old surgery (cataract surgery in 2008 on the right eye) is still in great shape. She said there is a slight bit of fogging on the old lens, but that can be taken care of by burning it off with a laser. That’s something they would do if the vision hits 20-25 in that eye.

I have one more post-op visit next month where they will do a full vision check and see if I need to be fitted for glasses. My distance vision is pretty darn good, but I need readers for computer work.

The miracles of modern surgery!