Medical 2016/Research/One Woman’s Opinion
By – Sheri de Grom


From the back of my Medicare statement:


Medicare Difficult To Understand - Getty Photo

Medicare Difficult To Understand – Getty Photo

If you, or someone you’re helping, has questions about a Medicare Summary Notice (MSN), you have the right to get help, and information in your language at no cost. To talk to an interpreter, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

This ruling has become a requirement for all commercial insurance companies and I ask you to imagine the cost to your premium increasing to accommodate this service.

My Opinion: At least 24 languages are offered and include: Vietnamese, Tagalog, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Haitian Creole, German, and French to name a few.

If I required medical care in any of the above countries, I would be asked to pay for services rendered. I would not be offered a plan such as Medicare and no one would bother to translate their language to English. Many citizens of the countries named are fluent in English but from my experience these same citizens are selective about when they will use their language skills.

Is MEDICARE broke because we try too hard to be nice to countries whose leaders and/or citizens would just as soon see us dead? Who decided this was a good investment of our tax dollar? Why are we so afraid to stand up for ourselves and say, enough is enough?

From TIME, Oct. 5, 2015:

TIME magazine offered three (3) ways for consumers to get better health care. They based their summary on Leslie D. Michelson’s new book, Patient’s Playbook. The book is listed as one of the top fifteen of 2015 by AARP.

  1. Bond with your doctor. I agree 100% with Mr. Michelson’s assessment that it’s tough to
    Author: Leslie D. Michelson

    Leslie D. Michelson

    make small talk during short visits. But people who have strong relationships with their primary-care physicians tend to be more open about important health details and are likely to get the preventative exams that are right for them.

  2. Get second opinions. In the U.S. alone, diagnostic error contributes to the death or disability of at least 80,000 people a year. It’s important to consult with multiple medical experts before agreeing to surgery and other major treatments.
  3. Don’t be afraid to travel within the United States to major medical centers. Community hospitals offer quality care. But for complex problems, it’s worth considering a major institution; if it accepts your health insurance, the cost will be roughly the same.

From AARP, Dec. 23, 2011 & reprinted Dec. 26, 2015:

An AARP Bulletin discussed five (5) ways you can easily be labeled a difficult patient and have your doctor dislike you:

  1. You don’t arrive on time.
  2. You treat your doctor’s office as your personal assistant.
  3. You don’t admit that you’re not taking your medication.
  4. You diagnose your own medical problem and tell the doctor how to treat it.
  5. You start asking questions just as he/she heads out the door.

From the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons – Your Access to Health Care Services May Be Threatened:

Severn Sales Laboratory Equipment

Severn Sales Laboratory

There is an effort in Congress to prevent physicians from owning imaging, physical therapy services and pathology services. This doesn’t make sense because it hinders access to quality care. If a patient cannot have these in-house services it will cause scheduling delays, prolonged waits, the need to travel to other offices, etc.

The prohibition of these services could present significant harm to our elderly, disabled, poor and military families. It would not be fair to discriminate against those patients and purposely inconvenience them as they are some of the most vulnerable in society.

My Opinion: I appreciate having all the services mentioned above at the same place as my physicians. It’s an added convenience and a bonus I always look for when considering a new provider.

shinglesFrom The Centers For Disease Control:

  1. 1 in 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime.
  2. If you’ve had chickenpox, the shingles virus is already inside you.
  3. It’s hard to tell when the shingles rash will erupt.
  4. Unlike chickenpox, shingles can be painful and can lead to long-term nerve pain.
  5. Your risk for shingles increases as you get older.

It’s amazing to me just how much information is available along with how much mis-information. We must become informed consumers in selecting our healthcare providers and consider carefully the decisions they make for us. It is a matter of our life and death.

Thank you for reading with me.






About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. inesephoto says:

    Always a valuable information on your blog, Sheri. Prayers for healing sent your way.

  2. Elyse – I don’t know where my reply to your comment went. I hope you are well and am glad you had great medical care during your travels. Sheri.

  3. Sheri, you’re offering a valuable service trawling through just some of this information to help others!

    • Andrea, when I’m researching, it seems there’s something else that also catches my eye and I want to read the additional info. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  4. PTcontender says:

    I have never heard of the Patient’s Playbook before, but now that you’ve highlighted it, I want to check it out. The diagnostic error is pretty crazy! It caught my eye because my mom has had emergency heart surgery before, and when she looks backs on it she wonders if she should’ve gotten a second opinion. But it seems so scary when it is happening, as if there isn’t time to go get a second opinion – especially because they told her they were doing her surgery first thing the next morning and moving the other scheduled surgeries down so she could go first.

    • Jess – I hadn’t heard of the book either and was happy to see TIME Magazine feature it in a small column. The fact that AARP (American Association of Retired People) counted it in their top 15 of the year, gives the book a great deal of weight.
      Have you decided if you will specialize with a particular age group, injury and rehab, etc?
      Your Mom’s heart surgery seems like it must have been scary and I probably would have done the same thing she did. Both of my husband’s heart surgeries have been emergencies. He’s never had chest pains and a number of cardiologist overlooked major issues (100% blocked arteries and a pulse of 33). Sometimes we simply have to trust but it’s hard.
      The primary lesson I’ve learned is when I have reason to believe a doctor is not doing the right thing by me or my husband, it’s time for me to look for a new physician.
      Thank you for reading with me and leaving a comment. Sheri

  5. Patty B says:

    Being 55 I am too young for the shingles vaccination although I have had it twice, I was told by Tri care to call back when I reach 55 because of my diabetes they may cover it. Need to do that. Anyway a friend who works at the health dept told me if they do not covere it yet I can go into the board of health here in PA and get it for free. So for those whose insurance or Medicare dosn’t cover the cost check out the board of the health in your area. It is important to know our rights and what is available to us. Thanks for sharing.your knowledge

    • Patty – Thank you for your valuable comment. I didn’t know about the Board of Health and I say go for it. I have a young neighbor of 21 and her shingles consumer her right after giving birth at 21! Her doctor still won’t manage her shingles and 14 weeks later she still has them and is out of insurance. So much for Obamacare. I’ll tell her about the Board of Health this afternoon.
      That’s glorious about the Board of Health providing the shot in PA. I beg you not to wait, especially if you have had chicken pots and are diabetic. You cannot afford to have shingles because of the continuing damage to your nerves. You have enough damage already. And you will have more. I know that’s not happy news but let’s get you ahead of the curve ball if you are willing. I don’t want to see you suffer when it’s totally uncalled for and Tricare will put you off forever if they can get away with it.
      With the pending cuts to Tricare in 2017 and budget realignment, I’d do whatever I could to get that shot before the end of the year.

      • Patty B says:

        Thanks and I will. I am taking off during Christmas so will take care of it then. I knew about some of the Tricare cuts – but too afraid to look at them. Right now I am too young for any supplements (checked with two trusted friends who are in the insurance business) and can’t afford any insurance on my own. Especially now that within 2 yrs I will lose one of my jobs. Most likely next year. I am so afraid of getting sick. Going for 6 month check up on my lungs at the end of the month…praying all is well. Praying for you and Tom too – my heart is with you.

        • Patty – I meant to comment on your response earlier. Insurance is crazy when it comes to shingles. The disease knows no age limit. Our next door neighbor has them bad and they’ve been with her for almost a year. She’s 22 and has an 18 mo old baby and rarely has a good day. If you’ve already had shingles twice, it’s crazy for them not to allow you to have the shot NOW. Of course, almost all insurance is already crazy. Once government started regulating insurance, we lost all common sense when it comes to coverage.

          • Patty B says:

            you said it sister….how have you been. I am still spinning in my wheel like a hamster, busy but not seeming to go anywhere…

  6. Ron has shingles Sheri but he was never advised to have the Vaccination to prevent it, money would not have been an issue, Health is more important, Thanks for sharing about it, I will pass it on to Ron.

    Christian Love and Blessings – Anne.

    • Anne – Oh, that makes me furious! Any internist or general practitioner worth their grain of salt would advise their patient to get a shingles shot. Shingles cause such pain and the nerve damage is permanent. I hope Ron’s quickly ran its course. I’m not sure if you can take the vaccine once you’ve had shingles but seems to me that you should be able to prevent further episodes. My mother had shingles and I remember how she suffered. It was before I knew anything about the disease. I despised her doctor for not giving her preventive advise on that and many other matters.
      I’ll be interested in what Ron’s doctor has to say.

  7. mihrank says:

    indeed, this is great information, should bring better solutions and understanding…

  8. As always, Sheri…great information!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Elyse – I’m glad you’ve had positive experiences. Often, when I needed medical attention, I was in country working and my experiences were primarily with emergency room medicine. When compared with our experiences in the U.S., I don’t know which is worse! Perhaps it’s better not to understand. I always had a translator on my team but if you have 25 team members in country the translator is often not with you. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and reading with me plus leaving a comment.

    • Thanks, Kirt, For savvy people like yourself, simply gentle reminders – like the shingles shot. Thanks for stopping in and reading with me.

  9. It’s funny how plain good manners can solve so many issues. That list of why some might be considered a difficult patient–wouldn’t just seeing the doctor and nurses as fellow humans on this long journey fix most of those?

    Then again, it might be a cultural thing I don’t understand.

    • Jacqui – It’s an interesting situation. When I talk with medical administrators, there continues a delicate balance between physician and patient. Doctors ordered to adhere to the 15 minute consult often feel hurried and worried they cannot give their best. Doctors themselves tell me they can often tell their patients have more they want to cover but the added time will place them in trouble with the administration of the facility and in the case of Medicare, be seen as a doctor who spends to much time per patient. The Little Rock Diagnostic Clinic [a well known diagnostic clinic] has posters printed throughout the large facility that if a patient has waited more than 20 minutes, they are to call the administration office. I’ve never made that call as I want my doctors to spend that little bit of time with me when they need it. I can also say, I’ve never waited more than 30 minute on any one doctor at the clinic and I have several different specialist at that clinic.
      I’ve always wanted to schedule my own appointments and not have someone else do it for me as I know what my schedule is.
      Thanks for stopping by and reading plus leaving a comment. Your time is always appreciated. Sheri

  10. GP Cox says:

    I’m always saying enough is enough, but I get shot down by the politically correct people who think liberal ideas are the way to go. Helping other countries is great – but take care of your own first.
    [got the card – Thanks]

    • G.P. When I think of the number of U.S. citizens going without medication, food, adequate housing or the other basics I can’t help but want that money for our own citizens. Our ancestors worked hard before us and last time I took an inventory of my own work history, I’ve put in my own share of hours – thus I believe my vote should count for something, but it doesn’t. I’m not in that luxurious 1% with enough money to help those I wish I could. Therefore, I have to leave it to volunteerism. It still doesn’t leave me satisfied. So many of our own citizens are falling through the cracks and we can’t seem to help them.

      • GP Cox says:

        I know what you’re saying. Being on Social Security myself, my budget doesn’t allow me to give where I want to. I suppose we can all just do our best and hope that we’re right.

  11. Thank you Sheri. I wish you were in charge…..

  12. Gallivanta says:

    It’s almost a full time job deciphering all the information which is available.

    • I could never pretend to go over everything that’s ‘out there’ to read. I heard over 8,000 medical journal articles are written about cancer research daily! The reading of the text has been turned over to a smart robot and then he’s able to catalogue the information in a format for docs working in specialty cancer fields.
      Perhaps the most important thing I read today: I dearly love what Starbucks calls their Cold Brew but it’s way to expensive to buy all the time. Today I found their recipe and if I do say so, mine is just as tasty as theirs! 2 shots of espresso, pour over ice in chilled glass, add milk (they call for 2% but I use skim) and enjoy. I used skim milk and 2 extra shots of espresso in order to have a 16 ounce drink.

  13. ksbeth says:

    there is so much out there to sift through, and this tips help to make a bit of sense of it all -)

    • Beth – Hi and how are you today. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I come across information all the time and sometimes it seems so basic yet feel I need to pass some of it along.

  14. Elyse says:

    I have had medical attention in both Switzerland and France in English. I know in Switzerland, translation was available into multiple language. But I see your point.

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