Common themes emerge in Grand County health care situations |

Common themes emerge in Grand County health care situations

To the Editor:I have read with interest the series about health care in Grand County. Thank you for taking on such a massive and complex issue and bringing it to the local level. As new providers in Grand County, we are eager to help both individuals and the health system here.I have practiced in multiple environments (college health service, specialty practices, private practice). There are a few common themes that I have noticed and would add if I could attend:1. I didn’t think it would happen to me.” This is especially an issue with 20-somethings. They often have not had their mortality tested and unless the first test is minor and the person pays attention, it can be too late. In general, people don’t want to think about their own mortality and avoiding health care and its associated issues can be comfortable. Plus, it’s really, really dry material.2. “It’s not covered by my insurance so I don’t need it.” There can be a warped sense of responsibility created by the marketing forces of health care finance. These forces also can drive a wedge between the patient and the provider trying to act prudently. Plus, the legalese and confusion created in trying to understand health insurance plans make getting insurance a task one would just as soon avoid and defer.3. “I’m just too busy.” This is about personal priorities. Not only does someone avoid the doctor but it impacts general health habits. There are other factors but the above are about changing personal behavior. This is always a hard thing. Public health/education efforts that present information in a palatable format are important. Explaining health insurance could be a rewarding effort. Presenting preventive care as inoffensive and unobtrusive could be helpful. As has been described in the series, the trick is when people are personally responsible and trying to be proactive but just can’t afford to act consistent with that. Plus, being in the gap between state help and affording private insurance. Food or insurance is a hard choice that I’m glad I never had to make. For healthy people, low cost, catastrophic insurance with health savings account options helps prevent health care costs that drive people to bankruptcy as well as help the nation’s negative savings rate, poor retirement planning, and decrease the fear that people are “throwing money away” on health insurance they won’t use. For those who are un/under-insured and living with chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes), education to reduce their reliance on health care services and associated costs is key. Catastrophic insurance with an extra premium for care related to the chronic disease makes sense. Plus, as the person participated in education programs and demonstrated reduced health care usage, the extra premium could be reduced. Finally, the county or other organizations could act as or create a pool for people to get lower group rates. Such similar programs are available for small business owners to act together to participate in insurance at more affordable levels. Some local feedback I’ve heard is that providers in the county have not been consistent. There are people who have said they used to see Dr So & So but they left and haven’t seen anyone since. My suggestion is that the Grand County Rural Health Network (or other group) produce an introductory packet for providers interested in the area (like a prospective resident/second home owner can get), provide this through the chambers of commerce (and other sources from which prospective providers might seek info on demographics and business rules, etc), and facilitate more partnership among existing provider so that if someone does leave, patients can better transition to other local providers. Most providers are busy people who want to help patients any way possible. Programs that would allow providers to help in a logistically easy way but still keep doors open would be great. Personally, I try hard to make financial issues not an impediment to people in need getting the care they require.Dr. Craig KozakFraser