ST Blog: Some healthcare insurance coverage might deter doctors to give quality medical care

In February 2014, I was diagnosis by a podiatrist surgeon that I had a torn Achilles tendon and other tendons in my left foot.  I saw the MRI results — horrible stuff. The podiatrist said my left foot was a mess with Planter Fasciitis, a bone spur, and again, a torn Achilles tendon.  I was fitted with an orthopedic boot and scheduled for physical therapy. He said two surgeries were needed.  Okay, I said to myself, “This is serious, and I have proactive measures in my future.” The podiatrist said weight loss, physical therapy and a wellness program was the formula to provide strength and a good plan for recovery after the surgical repairs. I was vigilant in keeping up with my physical therapy, lost some weight and felt positive in moving toward the enviable surgery.

By April, the physical therapy had greatly reduced the foot pain, but the pain returned if I walked without the orthopedic boot for very long.  I knew the long-term goal: surgery.

I returned  to my podiatrist in late April for a six-week check up.  Soon after I checked in at the doctor’s office,  the receptionist immediately asked me to make a payment for what the insurance company had not paid for the doctor visits, the MRI and orthopedic equipment. I had no idea how much the insurance company paid or did not pay — ya know, the deductible thing.

I was told that if a payment was not paid immediately I would not be able to see the doctor today for the appointment. The receptionist said I owed $800. At this time, I did not have the information to make a decision about any payment.  I asked when the bill with insurance information was sent.  The receptionist said, “Yesterday.”

With my Irish temper in check, I assertively pronounced that I was not going to make a payment until I received “the bill.”  Again she said I would not be able to see the doctor today. My voice became a little louder. The other clients in the waiting room no doubt had heard me. I asked to see the doctor. The receptionist said she would see if the podiatrist was available to talk to me.

The doctor agreed to see me for the appointment.

After sternly articulating the humiliating experience I had at his reception desk, he looked at my foot for a follow-up. Oddly enough, he kept mentioning my insurance company in his conversations with me. Next, twisting my foot back and forth, he said the physical therapy was doing a great job in lessening my pain. His next statement, well, it shocked me. The doctor said the nothing of my major surgeries ahead but instead spoke of small cuts to release scar tissue on my foot as the new medical plan. Period. He said to come back in six weeks.

Stunned, I left the doctor’s office even more humiliated. This podiatrist had changed his mind about my medical care based on my insurance company’s ability to pay him well and not wanting to face an imaginary billing battle with me in the future. By the way, I have never defaulted on any medical bills.

I am looking for a new podiatrist.

- Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

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Hunger group provides way for gardeners and farmers help food pantries

As the weather becomes consistently warmer throughout the nation, many gardeners’ and farmers’ minds turn to the land and the spring planting season. But their thoughts also make considerations for the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, where food and grocery products will help feed more than 37 million low-income Americans through a network of more than 200 food banks in the U.S.

If gardeners and farmers wish to help their local food banks, Feeding America suggests the following steps:

Contact the local Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers organization and help contribute a bushel, a dollar or an hour. The organization provides 33 million pounds of food, volunteer hours and has given more than $800,000 to local food banks and pantries in 2013.  Contact jborys@feedingamerican.org for more information.

Farmers and families that live in rural areas might consider designating acres to donate their crops to local food banks or maybe taking a portion of their crop’s sale and donating it to local book food pantries.  InvestAnAcre@feedingamerica.org.

Also, with more than 84 million households with gardens in the U.S., many gardeners are planting an extra row of produce for soup kitchens and food pantries to help feed the hungry. Plant A Row hotline is (887) 492-2727 to find a campaign in the area.

Feeding American is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. The organization provides food to more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in communities across the U.S. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people they serve; educates the public about hunger issues; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit Feeding America.org or go on InvestAnAcre@feedingamerica.org or go to Twitter at Twitter.com/Feeding America.

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The day in the life of a homeless person

Through the use of a 35 mm camera carried by a homeless person, viewers of HomelessGoPro can experience first hand what it is like to be Homeless.

Most Americans have never experienced what it is like to be homeless.  Through a San Francisco project called Homeless GoPro, photos and reports are developed to build awareness around homeless individuals’ daily interactions, as a way to experience them together and also address another aspect of homelessness – the empathy divide.

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How long will it take for the unemployed to find a job?

While market reports seem to be noting an upswing toward recovery in the U.S. economy, there are still many people who are unemployed that lost their jobs as a result of the Great Recession.  How long will it take for these individuals to find a job … a lasting job …?  The Brookings Institute Papers on Economic Activity reveals:

“The short-term unemployment rate is a much stronger predictor of inflation and real wage growth than the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. Even in good times, the long-term unemployed are on the margins of the labor market, with diminished job prospects and high labor force withdrawal rates, and as a result they exert little pressure on wage growth or inflation.”  See the study report here.

In addition, a FiveThirtyEight analysis says Americans who had the misfortune of losing their jobs during the height of the most recent recession in 2009 were more than four times as likely to end up out of work for a year or longer than those who lost their jobs during the comparatively good economy of 2007.  See analysis report here.

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Nobel Peace Prize laureates urge Obama to say no to Keystone XL

Why are Nobel Peace Prize recipients warning President Obama to nix the Keystone Pipeline?  What about jobs it could create?  What about pollution?  Yes, the Keystone Pipeline will bring thousand of jobs to areas where the pipeline will be built and maintained.  The U.S. has a enormous appetite for energy, and we want to more dependency on our country’s, or at least our own continent’s, energy resources instead of oversea sources.  But instead of looking at the short-term goal of prosperity, why aren’t Americans looking at the long-term effect this pipeline could have on the land, sea and air in the states it will cross leading down to the Gulf of Mexico?  To read more about this debate go to Commondreams.org, link here .

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White House addresses methane emissions with new plan

Greenhouse gases from landfills, mines, agriculture, and the oil and gas industries are 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide. kingcounty.gov photo

Whether you believe in or are a critic of global warming, greenhouse or methane emissions continue to rise.   The Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Interior, Energy and Agriculture are developing new standards in emissions to be implemented during the next two years.  To read the complete story in the Huffington Post, link here. 

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