Ran across an interesting commentary from JAMA entitled “A Closer Look at the Economic Argument for Disease Prevention” by Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH. I am currently doing some research as I create an employer toolkit regarding hepatitis B, and I just got a chance to read through this delightful commentary that SC had referenced during one of our earlier working group meetings. In a time when the details of health care reform are being debated, this is an interesting take on what some policy makers may be considering when looking at health policy.
What really struck me was that Dr. Woolf is emphasizing that prevention won’t save money, but rather, it stretches the benefits that the money we invest in health obtain. This places health care more as a commodity that is traded and helps me think of an alternative meaning for what it means for a medical service to be cost-effective.
Would love to hear your thoughts.
Updates on corporate hepatitis B intiative and healthcare. A whole slew of other interesting things to come in the next post. Apologies about being MIA: I spent a week at home in Texas working on my medical school applications and to see my family, and the return back to the office was pretty hectic with all the events that happened this week and the flood of To-Do’s piled on my desk.
Corporate Hepatitis B Initiatives
On Wednesday, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend Corporate Asian American Employee Network’s (CAAEN) 6th Annual Event at Chevron in San Ramon. CAAEN is an organization comprised of employee resource groups from many Fortune 500 companies in the Bay Area that focus on developing leadership advancement for Asian Americans. CAAEN kindly invited us to host a booth during the networking time period, and I had the opportunity to speak with ~60 people in an hour timeframe. The Asian Liver Center booth was definitely very busy, mostly due to our wheel and the Jade Ribbon Campaign plushy cows. People were very receptive to filling out the 6-question knowledge survey, and with the incredible help of our Cisco supporter MT, I was able to provide many Silicon Valley employees with hepatitis B education. Many took the information seriously, and I hope that they go and ask their doctors about hepatitis B testing. One very exciting prospect that came out of that night is the possibility of working with Safeway to promote the Jade Ribbon Campaign. This is still in its early stages, but hopefully this can pan out with the help of CAAEN.
After the networking session, I had the chance to attend the panel discussion with top Asian American leaders from Visa, Chevron, and AAA. It was great to hear their perspectives on what it means to be an Asian American leader, the pros, the challenges, and where they see Asian Americans in future leadership. Our economy, our world is becoming increasingly diverse, and we need to embrace that diversity and bring it to the table. I enjoyed talking to Lynn Chou after the panel discussion – she’s such an inspiration as a successful Asian American female leader. To advance your career, she advised, is to excel at what you do, but to also have those 3-4 projects that you take ownership of for each year that you can speak about to your superiors and others to demonstrate your leadership and ability.
Another good nugget is this: Be consistent. be confident, and be willing to laugh at yourself and your mistakes.
Evaluting “American Values” and their application to Healthcare & Reform
I hope that you all had the chance to listen to President Obama’s healthcare reform speech on Wednesday. He’s such an eloquent speaker. I was pretty happy to hear his stance on how health insurance shouldn’t be withheld from those who have existing health conditions and how health insurance should not be revoked when an individual begins to be too costly for an insurance company to cover. He’s right: it’s heartbreaking and it’s wrong. I haven’t had a chance to read about follow up commentary to the speech and what plans will be put forward, but if you have any suggestions, please do let me know!
And, here’s a very well written article by Pauline Chen from NYTimes about healthcare and “American Values.” There has been lot of talk about how certain parties or certain plans reflect “American values,” but what ARE American values? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article.
More updates to come. Thank you for reading!
Read a great NPR transcript of Congressmen Judy Chu and Mike Honda on healthcare reform. Judy Chu mentions hepatitis B and it’s importance in heatlhcare reform for Asian and Pacific Islanders. Especially pertinent since under our current healthcare program, those with pre-existing conditions are often denied healthcare. My own mother suffers from this problem due to her chronic hep B infection, so it is great to hear a politicion speaking out about this issue.
Let me know what your thoughts are!
Had a great chat with a friendly fellow, B from Intel Digital Health Group, on the plane yesterday about my hepatitis B work and his work at Intel. He was interested in the work that we have done at Cisco and bringing hep B awareness to the Asian employee base (although, I was thinking that we need to broaden the scope since hepatitis B also affects Russians, those from the Middle East, some South Americans, and Africans). Hopefully we’ll see some progress there soon. I was not even aware that Intel played a role in healthcare, but it only makes sense that Intel would play a role in helping to create cutting-edge technology to help improve healthcare data / information technologies. Definitely check out Intel’s healthcare website to see what innovative projects they are working on to improve our healthcare system, and ultimately, our health.
Also, was reading the blog of Eric Dishman, Intel Director of Health Innovation and Policy, and I really liked his blog entry on health care reform entitled “Healthcare Reform is Personal for Me”. I feel it really speaks to a lot fo the reasons why I support true reform in the current healthcare system. One of the most poignant points was the fear of losing insurance due to a pre-existing condition or not being able to get the care that you need due to all the red tape that exists now. I’d highly recommend you read the blog entry, and do let me know what you think.
One reason the blog entry struck me was because I was recently speaking with my own mother about how her insurance monthly payment is increasing almost each month, and how she can’t afford the increases and she can’t find another provider to take her due to her chronic hepatitis status. She won’t even go and do her regular 6-month ALT and AFP blood tests to check for liver cancer because she can’t afford to pay the $30 co-pay and then the cost of the bloodwork. And she’s been having problems walking, but she won’t go see the doctor because she’s afraid of all the billing that will ensue from the various MRI’s or tests she’ll undergo. She even tried to ask her insurance how much the tests would cost, but they said they couldn’t tell her – that it was dependent on how much the physician’s office wanted to charge. And when she called the physician’s office, they said they didn’t know either, and it was dependent on how much the insurance premiums were. And so, already strapped for cash and unwilling to spend more than she has to, my mom suffers each day, having to hobble around. I spent an hour last night rubbing Bengay cream on her leg and back as she whimpered in pain.
It’s frustrating to say the least. I tell her I’ll pay for her appointments and I even schedule them, but she doesn’t commit to them. I try to convince her that I’m willing to put forth this money so that we don’t have to spend more later in the event of serious disease or injury, but she doesn’t listen. She doesn’t feel that her healthcare provider is there to take care of her, only to take her money away, and that is incredibly frustrating on my end, when I just want to make sure she’s healthy and happy. She’s a small business owner, and doesn’t have the luxury I have to rely on a larger company / institution for healthcare. She has a pre-existing condition that bars her from finding more affordable healthcare. And she won’t utilize the little healthcare benefits she has because she can’t navigate the insurance policies and pricing costs. I don’t know about you, but I think our healthcare is in true need of reform – if not for my mother, then for all the other mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers out there that are suffering. I know there is incredible fear of change, but I don’t understand why people don’t fear our current system.
Thanks for reading, and I do invite you to share your thoughts with me. I’m still very new to discussion about the healthcare reform issue, but these are my thoughts, and what I see from my family’s perspective.