The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Health

Owens Community College is offering an Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary certificate within the School of Health Sciences.

Owens is currently the only academic institution in Northwest Ohio to offer the new certificate program. “The demand for dental professionals with Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary certification is greater than ever before as there is currently a shortage of dentists,” said Beth Tronolone, Owens chair of Dental Hygiene. “Hiring dental assistants or hygienists with this certification allows dentists to maximize their workload.”

The new Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary certification allows the dental professional to work under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist in Ohio, which enables them to place fillings and sealants after a dentist prepares the tooth.

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Director, Ohio Department of Aging
 
In these economic times, more Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills. We spend more on health care every year than we do educating our children, building roads or feeding ourselves. Americans’ medical costs reached an estimated $2.6 trillion, or around $8,300 per person, in 2009 according to AARP.

New York’s Commonwealth Fund reported that 72 million adults under age 65 had problems paying medical bills or were paying off medical debt in 2007, up from 58 million in 2005. Many had insurance and 39 percent said they had exhausted their savings paying for health care. Almost half (49 percent) of people facing foreclosure said medical bills were a cause of their financial problems.

Hospitals typically charge uninsured patients full price for care, which can be as much as five times higher than rates negotiated by insurance programs. But, medical debt affects not just the poor or the uninsured. Millions of Americans covered by health insurance are paying more for less. They receive fewer benefits, higher co-pays and additional deductibles and still are at risk for large out-of-pocket bills when serious illness or injury occurs.

Unlike other forms of debt, such as a mortgage or installment payments on a car, medical debt typically is unplanned. There is no time or opportunity for consumers to shop around for the best deal on a needed surgery or the cheapest hospital and, in many cases, treatment cannot be put off for a better time. Often, consumers are forced to make decisions at their most vulnerable time because they or a loved one is sick, injured or dying.

Consumers with unpaid bills can wind up in court defending themselves against lawsuits, find their wages garnished and have liens placed on their homes. People who charged medical expenses to a credit card can find that missed or late payments result in sharply increased interest rates and bad credit ratings.

Experts say there are things consumers can do to try to lessen the burden of medical costs:

Promptly review your bills. Make sure you’re not being billed twice for the same thing or paying a charge that should be covered by insurance. Billing errors are common, and patients are often stuck with charges that are not their responsibility.

Make sure you’ve exhausted all payment sources, including insurance from current or former employers or a former spouse’s policy.

If your income is low, you may be eligible for charity care, but some patients are not told they qualify until they ask.

If you don’t qualify, request a discount, such as the fee Medicare or Medicaid pays. This may be 50 percent lower than the price uninsured patients are charged. Many doctors and hospitals will negotiate and set up payment plans, sometimes with no interest.

Avoid using a credit card and do not mortgage your house to pay medical bills. Charging expenses to a credit card means you lose the ability to negotiate with a provider. Obtaining a second mortgage to pay medical bills could result in foreclosure if you fall behind.

Medical bills can seem overwhelming, but never ignore them or assume they will go away. They will not and failing to deal with them is likely to make matters worse.  

Family Physician, Archbold, Ohio
President, Ohio Academy of Family Physicians

Comprehensive healthcare reform is a political and social challenge that has escaped this country for more than 30 years. This year, divergent interests are coming together to finally fix our healthcare system. There are proposals in Congress right now that would provide high quality, affordable healthcare and give people the choice of keeping their current insurance plan and primary care physician.

As a family physician, I see the effects of our broken healthcare system every day. It is never easy to treat patients who are uninsured because they cannot afford coverage or are denied coverage due to age or a pre-existing condition. I am tired of seeing my patients struggle paying for the healthcare they need. Healthcare reform cannot come soon enough.

Let’s face it. Access to healthcare is precarious.

But, it need not be. Meaningful and sustainable healthcare reform is possible if Congress passes legislation that gives everyone in the United States access to a patient-centered medical home, where their primary care physician will ensure they get the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

What does it take to make this happen? First, we need legislation that really covers everyone, requiring insurance companies to sell plans to all comers, regardless of family history, pre-existing conditions, and to guarantee that patients can renew their coverage after they have become sick.

Second, legislation also needs to ensure that once people have insurance, they also have access to a primary care physician. The problem, however, is a growing shortage of primary care physicians to meet that need. The reformed system must value primary care if we want medical students to choose careers as primary care physicians. We need primary care physicians to keep people healthy, provide early treatment for the most common health problems and coordinate comprehensive and seamless care when subspecialty attention is needed.

The good news: We have a vehicle that can make all these improvements happen. It is called the Affordable Health Choices Act being debated in the U.S. Senate. This proposal would ensure affordable health coverage for everyone and encourage the primary care that people need. Making this a reality depends on letting our senators know we support these efforts. Unless we voice our support, we are likely to continue criticizing, pondering and worrying about healthcare for years to come.

It is time to stop playing politics and solve the healthcare crisis. We must find a uniquely American solution that controls skyrocketing healthcare costs and gives our patients peace of mind when it comes to their healthcare.

 CommonPeople1

Giving money to people along road

Do you feel compelled to give money to people holding signs along the road asking for money?
1867537862 [{"id":"10","title":"No, I'm not sure they're legitimate.","votes":"7","pct":46.67,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"11","title":"No, I'm afraid they will use it for drugs.","votes":"5","pct":33.33,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"12","title":"Yes, I feel good about helping someone down on their luck.","votes":"3","pct":20,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]},{"id":"13","title":"Yes, we could all end up like that.","votes":"0","pct":0,"type":"x","order":"4","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /communitypolls/vote/1-root.html?Itemid=183&id=5 No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...