Tag Archives: social determinants

In heart of Silicon Valley, a chance to spot health gaps #ahcj15

Silicon Valley is the place of tech dreams and data wonders. But the city – one of the nation’s wealthiest areas – is also home to underlying health gaps. So perhaps it’s a fitting place to also examine the haves-and-have-nots of health care at AHCJ’s annual conference this week.

Sheree Crute

Sheree Crute

On Saturday, presenters will discuss how an area can suffer from health disparities when it comes to what care patients receive and how. In the session, “One Community, Two Worlds: Reporting on Health Inequality,” Luisa Buada, a registered nurse and chief executive of Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto, California, and Sarah Reyes, regional program manager for The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, will join San Jose Mercury News reporter Tracy Seipel to guide journalists in understanding such gaps. Continue reading

Susan Heavey to lead AHCJ’s core topic on social determinants

Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, a journalist who covered health care regulation and policy before focusing on the intersection of health, poverty and demographics, will lead AHCJ’s core topic on social determinants and disparities in health.

Her goal is to  provide AHCJ members the resources they need to cover the root causes of health care gaps by writing blog posts, tip sheets, articles and other material.

While on the beat at Reuters, she wrote about everything from brain stimulation and clot-grabbing snake-like devices to drug safety and biosimilars. She also helped cover Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Her work has appeared on reuters.com, been picked up by The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNBC and other outlets, and led news websites for Yahoo! and Google. She also previously wrote about health for washingtonpost.com and KidsHealth.  Continue reading

Rural health providers alarmed by regulatory changes #ahcj14

Attend AHCJ’s free Rural Health Journalism Workshop for a better understanding of what’s happening – or will be happening – in rural regions, and return to work with dozens of story ideas you can pursue.

Compared with city dwellers, people in rural America have higher rates of cancer, diabetes, disabling injuries, and other life-shortening health problems.

Among the less talked about aspects of the Affordable Care Act are measures intended to help reduce rural health disparities. But health professionals working in remote small towns aren’t convinced that the well-intentioned steps will bring enough relief – and do it quickly enough – to reverse problems that many fear are getting worse, such as lack of economic opportunity for rural residents, and limited access to high-quality medical clinics and hospitals.

“There’s definitely joys, but right now the change is huge. It’s going to make it hard for many of us to survive,” said Dean Bartholomew, M.D., a family medicine physician in Saratoga, Wyo., a town with 1,700 residents that is nearly an hour’s drive away from the nearest hospital. Bartholomew was among the panelists at the Health Journalism 2014 session on rural health.

Rural health difference

For Bartholomew, the joys include the rich relationships he’s been able to build with patients and the community. He’s found himself serving as the volunteer team physician for the local high school, for instance, and taking care of sick pets on occasion. Continue reading

Studies reveal contradictions in efforts to improve socioeconomic status

“You as a society have made a decision that child poverty is what you want. I can only assume that’s the case. Otherwise you would do what European countries are doing and use taxes and transfers to reduce child poverty.”  – Michael Marmot

Sir Michael Marmot isn’t the first to call out the United States for its exceptionally high rate of child poverty. About 45 percent of American kids are growing up in families that are poor or near poor (below 199 percent of the federal poverty level), up from 40 percent in 2006, according to a recent analysis.

This degree of social inequality helps explain why the health status of Americans is failing to keep up with progress in other wealthy nations. But how to make things better is not so clear. Two remarkable studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month highlight some of the paradoxes and hidden pitfalls inherent in efforts to boost the socioeconomic status of poor kids. Continue reading

U.S., Canadian health care systems share some challenges

Lieberman recently returned from a monthlong visit to Canada as a Fulbright Senior Specialist. She lectured on the American health care system and learned much about how Canadians get their medical care. She interviewed hospital executives, physicians, academic experts, former health ministers, reporters covering health care, and ordinary citizens. Lieberman also toured hospitals and long-term care facilities. This is the second of four posts reporting on that visit. Previously, Lieberman explained misconceptions that Canadians have about the U.S. health care system and the differences in the two systems.

canada-flagBoth countries are historically and practically steeped in fee-for-service medicine, and much of the power to control prices rests in the hands of the medical establishment. While provincial governments have periodic negotiations with medical and hospital groups, and there are global budgets for hospitals that try to constrain costs, the system is relatively expensive.

In 2011, the U.S. won the dubious honor of having the most expensive system in the world, spending about $8,500 per capita. Canada spent about $4,500, making it the third most expensive country among a group of OECD-developed nations.

Still, that number needs perspective. In 1970, a few years before Canada implemented its national health insurance system, both countries were spending about 7 percent of the GDP on health care. Thirty-nine years later the U.S. was spending 50 percent more of its national income on health care, leaving its patients with the highest out-of-pocket expenses in the world. When I explained the high out-of-pocket expenses to Canadians, that notion simply did not compute. There is some talk about imposing copays for some services as a way to help both the federal and provincial governments save money. But the idea of making people pay 50 percent of a bill or a family paying $13,000 out of pocket before insurance benefits kick in is wildly unpopular. Continue reading