Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke. These top five causes of death in the United States all have a higher incidence of death among rural residents and research points to lack of access to health care as a culprit. Consider these challenges and solutions facing rural Americans.
Health Care Solutions for Rural Americans
(Family Features) Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke. These top five causes of death in the United States all have a higher incidence of death among rural residents and research points to lack of access to health care as a culprit.
According to the University of North Carolina’s Rural Health Research Program, since 2010, more than 105 of America’s 1,700 rural hospitals have closed. Additionally, a Navigant report found that 21% of rural hospitals are at high risk of closing unless their financial situations improve.
Every day, rural Americans find themselves farther from medical care.
Practical challenges facing patients
Fatal injuries and illnesses aside, rural residents face other practical concerns related to the health care in their communities.
One solution to fill the gap in rural health care is air medical services, which transport patients to critical care facilities in minutes. With nearly 90% of patients transported living in rural areas, air ambulance services are an essential part of health care access in these communities.
However, just like rural hospitals, air ambulances are threatened as well. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates have remained steady for decades, while operational costs required for air medical services have increased, creating a financially unsustainable situation. Some private insurers also refuse to cover air medical services or pay minimal costs, requiring patients to assume the balance.
How to take action
The challenges facing rural health care access may be significant, but rural residents can take individual actions to make a difference for themselves, their families and even their communities.
Protecting Patients Against the Unexpected
With increasing frequency, insurance companies are not covering the full cost of medical emergencies, leaving families with out-of-pocket expenses they didn’t expect.
If you need medical transport and a physician or first responder determines air evacuation is the best – or only – option to get you to care, you shouldn’t have to worry about the bill you’ll receive afterward. Many emergency service providers have support efforts in place to help you focus on recovery, not finances.
For example, many air medical companies provide patients access to their patient advocates, who work with the patient’s insurance provider to properly cover air medical transport, taking the patient out of the middle. This process can result in significantly lower costs for the patient, often amounting to just the usual copay and deductible.
Visit globalmedicalresponse.com/protect-patients to learn more about these services in your area.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images (doctor and man, woman speaking with doctor on computer)SOURCE:
Global Medical Response
When you are touring an assisted living facility for a loved one, you should ask questions, explore the property with a critical eye and talk with the staff. You want to ensure that your loved one will be well taken care of and that they will be happy during the duration of their stay. If you have browsed through brochures, you have to check that the reality does indeed look like the pictures in the marketing materials. Here are three red flags to watch out for when you're picking out an assisted living facility.
Avoided or Unanswered Questions
As you view the property in person, ask questions. You want to know how many staff members are on per shift, the kind of credentials they have and if they can handle your loved one's condition. You want to know the steps involved in the admission process, the kind of patients already at the facility and a breakdown of the fees, too. According to After 50 Living, if you notice some or all of these kinds of questions are avoided or unanswered by the staff, it should raise a red flag. While you might come across a new staff member who does not have all the answers, there should be someone who can help when you are in the process of making such an important decision.
History of Violations
According to Assisted Living Center, information regarding a facility having outstanding compliance violations or complaints can be found by checking with the agencies responsible for overseeing these reports. Disciplinary action is a red flag because it means the facility is not in compliance with industry standards. Seeing repeated offenses is a good reason for you to cross that facility off your list simply because you do not know if your loved one will be properly cared for or safe. Whether it is lack of staff, medical equipment or cleanup, these things pose a risk.
You Have a Bad Feeling
While you are checking out the assisted living facility, according to Boomer Bloomer, it’s a good idea to do a gut-check. If you are not sure if this is the facility for your loved one, it is OK. You can seek reassurance before making up your mind. If you don't feel good about a place, keep searching for an assisted-living facility that you feel 100% confident about.
Picking an assisted living facility is a task that should not be taken lightly. Most facilities are well-staffed and genuinely care for their patients. It is OK to ask questions, tour the property and speak with staff members before you make a decision.
If you enjoyed this article, check out this other article with tips on how you can help aging parents!
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