Thursday, June 24, 2010

Everyone in Massachusetts has health insurance, right?

See the email I received below from Courtney Gilligan, our Corporate & Community Wellness Manager.  Her comments below point out a simple fact: though Massachusetts has provided great and model leadership across the United States in terms of providing health care coverage for its population, merely possessing insurance does not equate to receiving necessary services.  The cost/access conundrum is presented in compelling fashion by Courtney below (accents added):

Hi Rey,

This past weekend I had the pleasure and honor of coordinating the VNAB’s booth at the WHDH/Partner’s Health & Fitness Expo. VNAB provided blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose screenings for hundreds of people over the 2 days. I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of people while they waited in line to be screened. It was great to hear how many people had heard of the VNA of Boston before and used the services. They had wonderful things to say about the agency.

On a sadder note after speaking with the nurses, it turns out many of the people who attend the Expo each year come because they do not have health insurance or a PCP. They come to the event for the free health screenings and look for answers to their health questions. They consider this event their annual medical exam.

I wrote an article for the Connector that I have attached for you to read and I have attached some pictures from the event. I also pasted some of the feedback from the nurses who did the screenings. It blew my mind how many people were uninsured and not receiving the medical care they need. I guess this is something I have taken for granted and it was an eye opening experience. I also thought maybe you could use some of this information for your blog.

I am glad the VNAB could provide these much needed services to the community.

Some quotes for our nurses:

“I am happy I did the Expo and as busy as it was, it was also very rewarding and fun as well. For as long as those people waited and by the time they got to me, most were very thankful and grateful for the service the VNAB was providing. Overall it was very positive experience for both myself and the people I provided the service for.”

There was a woman who stated that “I guess this is going to be the last time that I have my B/P checked and it is too bad that you ran out of supplies, so I can’t have my cholesterol checked”. When further inquiry was made as to why this would be her last B/P check, she replied “I’ll have my B/P checked at the next health fair. My Insurance charged me $400.00 for my last appointment with my Doctor. The blood work was not covered and I can’t afford health care. You know, I also have to eat.”

The young man from New Hampshire was having a tough time finding a PCP. He, I think, needed someone to help him in explaining how to use of his Insurance book and in being navigated to the correct numbers and offices to expedite finding a PCP. He was encouraged to go to the Urgent Care not the Emergency room for immediate follow up for his B/P but he refused and stated” I’ll have to wait many hours and will be told to go home. They won’t do anything for me”. Again, more hopelessness being expressed in the medical system!! The Nurse in the Infirmary stated to me both days “Gosh, this is supposed to be a Health fair. We have been an emergency room all weekend.” As you know, I had to transport 1 person to her each day.

So many people told me of having no health ins. and can’t go to a DR so this is how they get testing done. sad comment on health care. It’s a good feeling to know that we are able to provide a much needed service to the community. Lots of people thanked the VNA for doing this. I had a good time and it was fun seeing different people.

I was AMAZED as well at the amount of people who came and stood for hours as you said to get checked out. It broke my heart looking into some of their faces as they looked at you almost desperately for answers. I won't forget that one young guy whose BP was alarmingly high and we told him how badly he needed to go to the ER and he spent the majority of the afternoon making phone calls to different urgent care centers in the city asking how much he would be charged, etc. because his insurance has a 1500 dollar copay. He never went to the ER and I have no idea what happened to him. That was so unsettling to know that all you can really do is encourage them to get the help they need but who am I to say go pay 1500 bucks to hopefully have them give you some meds and hopefully not send you right back out the door! It was amazing to me how many people don't have PCPs and how much education/teaching is needed in terms of health.

Thank you,

Courtney Gilligan

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