About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

College reflects the shortcomings of the US healthcare system

My daughter is starting college this fall and my son currently is a sophomore in college, both of them outside of our home state. In both cases, as we prepare(d) to send our children to college, suddenly the gaps in the US healthcare system stand out. Going through the paperwork needed to send my children away to school, I discovered the following:

1) Insurance does not cross state lines. In some cases, like my son who attends Penn State, the university health system will not take insurance non-related to the university. It makes sense since there are 40,000+ students, all with different insurance policies. Each state has its own requirements and restrictions for insurance carriers. If the US had a universal reporting system, it might make healthcare easier as people crossed state lines (or even county lines or employers). Imagine having one universal form that your provider could access as you moved or visited other areas. They would be able to access your information (with your permission). When I broke my foot a few years ago, I had to go to three different places for treatment. At each place, I had to give the SAME INFORMATION! Imagine giving it once only? It would be a lot more effective.

2) Related to this are the differing immunization requirements. If we can agree on universal right on red, can't we agree on a few universal immunizations and how they should be administrated? I never realized, for example, that there were so many differences in how many MMR's (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine requirements there were. Some require boosters, some require they be administered within a certain time frame or at specific ages, etc...

It used to be in NY State, where I live, that only those born after 1957 had to have the MMR vaccination. A new law requires childcare workers, even those born before 1957, to have proof of immunization. Few if any have records of their childhood diseases from the original doctors (most of which are in their 90's if they are even alive) so they must have blood tests to prove immunization.

Now I have found out that one of the vaccines that caused my daughter to have a reaction requires a booster. I don't want her to go through the reaction she had before, but now she has changed doctors, I have to explain the reaction and hope they will fill out the paperwork so she doesn't have to risk having a repeat of the reaction.

3) Finding a doctor that will take a patient who lives in the area only three months out of the year is difficult. My area has a doctor shortage as it is. Try finding a doctor you can see only during school vacations, when all the other college students are home and need to see their "regular" doctors. Then there is the problem with physicals. Doctors want to see a new patient and do a full physical. However, many insurance companies will only pay for one physical a year. So this means college students may need to pay out of pocket for a second physical if it is at their school. If a student has already had a physical within the year, why do doctor's require a full physical again? Should doctors have a regular "new patient" intake interview they can bill, but not a full physical (as long as they can get the records from the doctor in another state, thus universal information/database for the US)?

I understand why my students are chronically ill and/or go home to see their doctors when they are ill. Students who live off campus in my town, may not be able to find a doctor that will see them.

While the new healthcare bill has helped in some ways, until the US begins to build a "healthcare system" rather than focusing on healthcare costs, we will trail behind the rest of the world. As people complain about "universal healthcare" taking away choice, increasing costs, and limiting when and where a person can access health services, realize that this is currently happening in our country today already. Our healthcare system is not meeting the needs of American citizens, and not meeting them at a high cost.

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