Obamacare – the numbers don’t work

We have recently completed the process of choosing health insurance for 2015. I just finished up working with NEMT’s insurance agent – talk about painful. A three-hour meeting, a two-hour meeting and several long and sometimes contentious phone calls . . . because it is so complicated, not terribly clear, and more and more expensive.

NEMT CEO Linda Sullivan

Why? The inflation rate is low, we know doctors aren’t making any more than they did last year, medical facilities charge what the government and insurance companies allow them to charge. Individuals are getting less coverage than they ever have and are required to pay larger co-pays.

There are many more insured today through the Affordable Care Act. In Maine alone, 39,000 people who previously were uninsured now have coverage. A very high percentage of them are receiving a subsidy. That is concerning because it is a huge outflow of cash from a government that is already running a stunning debt, which at the time I write this, is $18, 021,044,683,000.00. That is an incomprehensible number and it is expected to rise significantly in 2015.

My question is while the subsidies from one standpoint make sense to get people insured, it does not seem to be a long-term sustainable equation, regardless of the penalties folks will pay if they are uninsured beginning in 2015. The numbers don’t work.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • PDF
  • RSS
Posted in Business, News and stories | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Social media and medical records

As part of our companies training we have an annual “recertification” of HIPAA for all team members. I, along with all team members, go through this course.

NEMT President Linda Allard

I sat down to take my course last week and noticed that a lot of the course was about social media. It gave a lot of information about not posting patient data on social media and what constitutes patient data. At first I was really surprised. I wondered ” who would do this?” But as I went further in the course I found out who did this, and it really made me think.

One small facility had nurses using a public site online to give the notes of patients to the other nurses for nursing care. They made it private and thought it would be a good way to make sure everyone knew about the patients’ needs during shift changes. Another posted about a case they were involved in and described it while leaving off names. Unfortunately enough was said that the identity was able to be guessed.

The reality is that we live in a social media world, and many of us end up in all kinds of discussions pertaining to many subjects. How easy would it be to discuss something that we saw in our facility but not put a name to it? I think it’s easier than anyone realizes. What we need to remember is that, even if we leave the name of a patient off, someone could still recognize that patient. The nurses were trying to give good continuity of care in their opinion but didn’t realize how easily someone could have gotten access to their “private” area and read the notes.

Social media is not going away. I don’t want it to go away. I love being able to see a picture of something my son has done even though he doesn’t live with me anymore. What we do need is to make sure we have a social media policy and then educate our team members. In my mind what I need to remember is that patient information and social media are like oil and vinegar — they don’t mix.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • PDF
  • RSS
Posted in HIPAA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My computer is down, and it won’t come up!

In the old days, when you bought a computer it came with a set of disks that you could use to reinstall Windows completely.  Unfortunately those who were less than honest used these disks to install Windows on lots of computers illegally, so the standard became to include a set of disks that would allow you to return your computer to “factory” condition, the way it looked when you took it out of the box.  These disks would only work for your brand of computer and, in some cases, only for your particular model.

Andrew Clarke

This is an abbreviated history, of course, but my point is that now you don’t even get the disks.  You are expected to make them yourself.  What happens is that your computer prompts you to make a set of recovery disks during your initial setup.  These disks are to be used in case you have trouble starting your computer or you have the need to start over due to a nasty viral infection.  I was working with someone this week who needed a recovery disk, but didn’t have one.  That interaction prompted me to write this blog article to urge you to create a recover disk if you haven’t already done so.

Since there is no such thing as having too many safety nets, I will encourage you to make more than one copy just in case.  Most computer manufacturers walk you through this process when you first start your computer.  For those who didn’t take the hint, running the process manually is easy.  Warning:  There have been manufacturers who only allowed you to create one set of these disks.  Who understands why?  If you are unable to create a set of recovery / rescue disks for any reason, contact the manufacturer of your computer to find out how you can obtain a copy.  Some of them will sell you a copy for a small fee.  The piece of mind is well worth it.  Luckily, most of you will be able to make your own copies.

Windows 7 Instructions
Windows 7 calls it a system repair disc.  The instructions to create a system repair disk are located here:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/create-a-system-repair-disc

Windows 8 Instructions
Windows 8 calls it a recovery drive.  The default is to use a USB (Thumb) drive instead of CDs / DVDs.  If you want to  use the thumb drive option, instructions can be found here:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/create-usb-recovery-drive

If you want to create CDs / DVDs for Windows 8 recovery, instructions are located here:
https://www.winhelp.us/create-a-recovery-drive-in-windows-8.html
Scroll down the page to the Windows 8 section vs Windows 8.1.  Do not be thrown by the fact that you will have to search for Windows 7 File Recovery.  These instructions are correct.  Microsoft … blah … blah …blah.

Windows 8.1 Instructions
Windows 8.1 (for those of us who upgraded from Windows 8) only offers the option to create a recovery drive using a USB (Thumb) drive.  Just follow the instructions in the Windows 8 section.

Creating CDs / DVDs for Windows 8.1 involves using a Windows 8.1 installation disk.  If you prefer this option, instructions can be found here:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/windows-and-office/pro-tip-use-an-optical-recovery-drive-in-windows-81/

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • PDF
  • RSS
Posted in IT | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Healthcare poll tracks with Obama approval

In case you missed it, a Gallup poll hit earlier this month that concludes the majority of Americans say that it’s not the federal government’s job to ensure all Americans have healthcare coverage.

Tara Courtland

Communications Director Tara Courtland

It’s an interesting shift from 2006, when the majority of Americans said exactly the opposite. The flip seems largely based on President Obama and the politics of Obamacare.

In 2006, before Barack Obama hit the national scene, 69 percent of Americans surveyed said the government was responsible for ensuring healthcare coverage for everyone. But Obama has been a divisive figure and the Affordable Healthcare Act even more so. In 2006, the question was philosophical but not polarizing. After six years of President Obama, the Tea Party and “Obamacare,” the question isn’t so much “Should the government ensure healthcare coverage” but “Which side are you on?”

If you like the president, the answer is yes. If you don’t like the president, the answer is no. On Nov. 23, 51 percent of Americans dissapproved of the president so it’s no surprise that 52 percent say it’s not the government’s job to provide healthcare coverage.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • PDF
  • RSS
Posted in News and stories, Obamacare | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ebola highlights ICD-9 problems

How fortunate are we here in the United States that the Ebola virus has not taken hold? Whether it be due to the response of our healthcare system or blind luck, likely some of both, we have avoided what could have been the next AIDS-level catastrophe.

NEMT CEO Linda Sullivan

West Africa continues to struggle but according to the World Health Organization, there appears to be a downward trend of reported new cases.

Where the United States did fall short, however, is in our continued use of ICD-9. While politicians and others have made fun of the specific nature of ICD-10, that very specificity is what would enable the vitally necessary tracking of this or any other new disease or condition.

As the only industrialized country in the world still using ICD-9, we see that the Ebola virus has pointed up how important it is that the deadline of October 1, 2015 for U.S. implementation of ICD-10 be adhered to.

The days of ICD-10 being used as a political football need to come to an end.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • PDF
  • RSS
Posted in ICD-10, News and stories | Tagged , , | Leave a comment