February 18, 2014 7:30 am  • 

When has the economic impact of healthcare not been front page news lately? Insurance companies, provider systems and state and federal governments, which have been working for years to towards becoming more efficient as well as complaint, are now seeing fruits of that labor. On the other side, the individual customer is embarking on a new world, where research and decision-making will be an obvious and defining factor in the family budget. Just anecdotally, many people I know are making choices that will change their wellness plan for this year anyway, as part of a large social experiment with an unknown (and unknow-able) result.

And while it is difficult to be 100 percent comfortable with trying to predict how healthy we will be in the year to come --- especially when the weather has been an extremely volatile factor in everyday living and working --- there are a items that everyone is relieved to have off the table like pre-existing conditions, or the million dollar insurance caps that have been gone so long that they are almost forgotten. By the way, I don’t mind giving up the old routine of filling out a new set of forms for every doctor visit. Remembering the dates of any past surgeries, illnesses, prescription drugs---generic vs. trademark names, dosage, duration, are you kidding me?---had gotten to be way more than a minor annoyance. Kind of like taking a standardized test before every office appointment; I won’t miss that. I like that a specialist I haven’t seen for 13 years knows exactly what took place that long ago and will gladly show me the report, because I sure don’t remember the details.

Last week I went to the wake of a high school friend’s mother who died at the age of 91, leaving a very sad, but very large group of people including spouse, children, grandchildren, spouses of children and grandchildren, and many great grandchildren, even a few with spouses of their own. While it was obviously very painful for family to lose someone so close and so beloved, it was plain to see what a joy every day of her life had been for all concerned. Living longer and having an improved quality of life is the big benefit of efficient and affordable healthcare, that’s the benefit we sometimes forget about as we study fees-per-paycheck and coverage subsidies.

Communicating, informing and educating readers about what’s going on with healthcare in Northwest Indiana are our mission. The economics that go with supporting healthy life plans are certainly an important part of our work, but we should never forget the point of staying alive. Our common goal of living longer, happier and healthier lives is the reason these things matter so much and commerce, in spite of all the attention it gets, is just a side note.

Next issue we will look at innovative treatments, aching bones and our tired, cold feet.

Pat Colander

Associate Publisher and Editor

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