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Healthcare Costs for Senior Citizens, Case Study Example

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Case Study

The rising costs of healthcare continue to plague most U.S. citizens.  Many people, from everyday citizens all the way up to the President are calling for a reform of the healthcare system.  The status quo cannot be allowed to continue the way it is.  As of now, millions of people are falling through the cracks in receiving healthcare, and there are surely more people to follow.  While there has been much debate, it seems that no one has come up with a viable solution.  The Health Care Bill that was passed in 2010 is not a total fix to the huge problem, and it is in danger or being repealed.  Luckily there are many ways that health care can be fixed.  Numerous doctors and healthcare workers around the country are taking steps that have helped save patient’s lives, as well as, reduce the overall costs of health care.

One of the main ways to reduce health care costs is to reduce the number of people who get sick in the first place.  This is known as preventative medicine.  Many of the candidates for the last presidential race touted preventative medicine as the savior of health care.  Unfortunately, there were not a lot of details given about how to implement this type of medical practice on an individual level.  Thankfully, there are many hospitals, doctors, and health systems around the country taking it upon themselves to implement preventative medicine practices.

Duke Integrative Medicine is one such health group, applying the principles of preventative medicine.  At Duke Integrative Medicine patients get follow up from health coaches to aid them in making the changes recommended by their doctors.  These types of changes include diet, exercise, and even ways to relieve stress relief.   “Dr. Tracy Gaudet, ExecutiveDirector of Duke Integrative Medicine, explained, ‘There is currently no one in the healthcare system who has the job or the expertise to actually help people make the lifestyle and behavior changes that they want to make. It is hard to change engrained behaviors. The Integrative Health Coach is trained to help people clarify their personal health goals and achieve them.” (LaPook p.1)  By having health coaches work with patients it makes it easier for the patient to incorporate the changes that will inevitably improve their health.  While it is unknown exactly the amount of money that can be saved through preventative and integrative medicine some believe the number to be in the billions of dollars range.  With the constant debate over how to cut the rising costs of healthcare it is only logical to begin implementing some of the strategies of Duke and other hospitals on a national level.

Another way to reduce health care costs is to restrict various types of medical interventions.  There are numerous procedures being done on patients that are needless, more harmful to the patient, or only help improve a patient’s quality of life minimally.  By changing the way doctors treat certain patients the overall costs of health care can be decreased.  An article by the New York Times explains it this way “Smart cuts eliminate spending on medical tests, treatments and procedures that don’t work — or that cost significantly more than othertreatments while delivering no better health outcomes. And they can be made withoutshortchanging patients.” (Emanuel p.1)  The article goes on to give examples of the tests or procedures that could be cut in order to save money without sacrificing patient care.  Two of the examples include: colonoscopies for people over 75 (which has been proven that it does not save patient’s lives), cardiac stents (do not perform better than drug therapy, but is a lot more expensive).  By changing these procedures and others money can be saved, but will most likely not lead to loss of life or quality of life.

There are many other ways to improve the health care system and save money.  However, these ideas have not been and are not being implemented on a national level where they can do the most good.  In order for change to occur on a larger stage, the government needs to take steps to make the above strategies a part of the national health care system.

Works Cited

Emanuel, E., Liebman, J.  Cut Medicate, Help Patients. The New York Times, 22 August 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/opinion/cut-medicare-help-patients.html?_r=2&ref=healthinsuranceandmanagedcare

LaPook, J.  Health Reform and Integrative Care. CBS News, 12 November 2011. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/05/health/cbsdoc/main5535824.shtml

Meisel, Z., Pines, J. Post-HMO Healthcare: Are ACOs the Answer? Time Magazine,31 May 2011 http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2074816,00.html

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