Thursday, June 7, 2012

Survey asks: How good was your care?

Healthcare is constantly in the news lately, but if you've been to the hospital in the past year, has anyone contacted you about your views on issues such as quality of care or costs? The stories below highlight the contributions by approximately 1000 people to NPR's Facebook page after its joint poll with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed Americans' self-reported experiences within the US healthcare system.

Aimee Snyder, a 28-year-old graduate student, missed the enrollment deadline for her school's health insurance program by only one day and nearly lost her life delaying medical attention and costs. Her leg had swollen to twice its size and was turning purple. She developed shortness of breath as she postponed taking herself to the hospital for fear of the possibly massive resulting bill.

When she finally decided to go to the emergency room to address the problems with her leg, doctors discovered that a blood clot had been the source of her discomfort, and it had dissolved into pieces in her leg. The clots were headed for her lungs and could have taken her life within hours had she not gone to the hospital. That life saving ER visit cost Aimee $15,000 that she has since struggled to pay either by borrowing from family and friends or by redirecting student loan payments for the bill.

Andrew Dasenbrock, 32, chose to go forgo insurance coverage because he is self-employed and unable to afford the expense. He also ended up in the emergency room after suffering from severe stomach pains. Miscommunications between the two facilities (owned by the same hospital system) that provided his care resulted in charge overages for duplicate tests. Once his ordeal ended and his condition was diagnosed as a simple ailment, Andrew was in debt for thousands of dollars, still responsible for the unnecessary duplicate tests performed by the two hospitals.

Participants had all received care from a facility within the 12 months prior to the survey's administration. Among other findings, the poll revealed that patients with ongoing, chronic medical conditions "tended to have more concerns about costs and quality than people who aren't sick."

For more about the poll, read about the findings here. Additional information about the study is also available at this link.

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