Being a Patient Advocate: A Guide for Minority Families

If your loved one has a complex or chronic disease, finding your way through the health care maze can be a daunting task. And if you are a member of a racial or ethnic minority, this can be even harder. Minorities often suffer and die from disease at higher rates than non-Hispanic whites.

There are three main points that the health care system fails people of color–access to care, quality of care, and effectiveness of treatments. Patient advocates can help address several of these.

Access

Access is perhaps the largest problem–minorities are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured than whites. Fortunately, this is the best recognized issue, and there are often community resources to help. Your local department of social services, health care clinic, or hospital should be able to provide information on what is available. Sometimes, it is possible to find doctors who will reduce their fees for those with difficulty paying.

Be aware that many doctors forget to consider the patient’s financial situation when prescribing. Ask if generics are available, or whether medications are covered under one of your local pharmacy’s lower price deals.

Quality of Care

Quality of care is a trickier problem. Studies have shown that minorities are less likely to get the interventions they need. For example, a minority patient is less likely to receive adequate medication for pain than a white patient. The reasons for this depend on multiple factors, including provider bias and cultural differences. For instance, with pain, some groups may tend to under-report pain or to describe pain in non-specific ways, or providers may be reluctant to prescribe opiates.

Advocates push the odds more toward the minority patient’s favor by participating in the decision-making process. If the doctor doesn’t seem to understand that your loved one is hurting, you can clearly communicate this information and push for solutions.

You don’t have to be a doctor to be an advocate. Here are some strategies you can use to get your loved one the best possible care

  • Identify the gatekeepers. Every health care organization has people who control access to providers. Generally, these people are the people you will have the most contact with-your loved one’s nurses in a doctor’s office or hospital, or nursing assistants in a long-term care facility. Be aware of shift changes.
  • Cultivate relationships with staff
  • Ask questions and keep asking until you understand your loved one’s diagnosis, prognosis, treatment options, and care routine. Ask about how the patient’s medications work and any side effects. You should also ask about possible drug interactions, as this is a common mistake doctors make, especially when there are multiple providers writing prescriptions.
  • Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition. If you need help in finding resources, ask.
  • Once you have all agreed on a treatment plan, make sure your loved one is receiving the care ordered.
  • Trust your intuition. If something seems wrong, it may well be. If you are not satisfied, get a second opinion.
  • Learn who to talk to and how to contact them in case of problems.

Effectiveness of Treatments

Sometimes, your loved one may be receiving standard treatment, but it may not be working well. There can be many reasons for this, most of them having to do with the severity of the disease and other illnesses your loved one may have at the same time. If your loved one has both diabetes and heart disease, treatment for one can be complicated by the other. However, research also shows that in some instances medications may affect people differently depending on genetic background (which race can provide some clues to).

For example, gefitinib is a drug that works better than other medications for certain types of cancer in most people with Japanese heritage. It has the same effect on American patients (of all backgrounds) with a specific genetic mutation, but may not work as well as other treatments for the majority of the US population.

Psychoactive drugs are particularly sensitive to genetic differences. African Americans and Native Americans may experience more side effects–and the drugs may not work as well–with these medications than other populations.

If you feel that the medications your loved one has been given are not working, or if the side effects are intolerable, ask your doctor if more appropriate drugs are available.

You’re the Expert

Though doctors and nurses may have specialized knowledge about disease, you are the expert on your loved one. And you can make a big difference in their care.

Lower Car Insurance Rates – The Effect Of The Car You Choose

You can’t imagine how much cash you could be losing in your car insurance unless you already have this information. Yes, you too can get lower car insurance rates. If you realize that it could run as high as $1000 then you’ll see how painful it could be. My aim in this article is to show you one way you can stop that drain your car insurance has on those hard-earned dollars by getting lower car insurance rates.

You have countless car makes and models in the market today. Each comes with a different level of prestige attached to it. But does this affect your premium? Have you checked if a comparable car could actually result in much lower car insurance rates?

Insurance companies have separated various cars into groups. There are around 20 different groupings (This could be different in your own country). You pay a certain premium depending on the rating of the group your car falls into all other things being equal. If your car is in a group that is rated for high premiums, you get to pay high premiums.

If you have been having some difficulty choosing between two cars that eventually fall into the different groups, you can now easily go for the less expensive to insure. If you look at it from a long term view, it could amount to several thousands of dollars.

You don’t need to leave your bedroom to get information that will help you get lower car insurance rates. All you have to do is obtain and compare car insurance quotes. Just do it twice: Once for the car you want to buy and another comparable car. Make sure you input the same details in both cases (apart from the car make). The difference will be because of the cars in question.

Do you already have a car? Do you know that you could still get lower car insurance rates (that could result in savings of up to $1,000) by obtaining and comparing quotes for your current cars?

Advocating for Autism – An Overwhelming Success, or Is It?

For almost a half century those advocating for autism have seen

• Improved diagnostic procedures

• New medications

• Many new training tools for children

• Improved types of therapy

o Applied Behavioral Analysis

o Speech therapy

• Many states now provide improved education for special needs children

• Many states now require autism to be covered by insurance

With the autism incidence going from 1 in 10,000 in the early 1960s to 1 in 88 as recently reported by the CDC and projections of increasing at a rate of more than 20% per year, one would have to describe autism as a growth industry.

A good thing for service providers, but not good for the parents or children.

Unfortunately those advocating for autism have not seen

• The cause for autism being identified

• Tools developed for prediction of autism—before symptoms develop

• Tools developed for early intervention that will eliminate the risk of autism

• Any procedures for the prevention of autism

• Any treatments, medications, or therapies that will cure autism

Advocating for the Elimination of Autism – The Path to Greater Success

• First we need to know the cause – The major cause for autism is a poor diet; also, the greatest risk factor for children with autism.

• Then prediction will be possible – Research has shown predictions based upon fifteen environmental and dietary factors are accurate more than 95% of the time.

• With accurate prediction, most risks identified can be totally eliminated

• Proper early intervention will then prevent the development of autism symptoms

• With prevention, you will eliminate the epidemic of autism over time – No new cases

Success measured in this manner would show

• Fewer children having to experience growing up with these symptoms

• Elimination of the long wait for the first appointment

• Significant reductions in special needs children in our schools

• Significant reductions in the money spent for medical services

• Fewer families would be disrupted or broken up and would not experience the financial ruin often reported

This is a personal invitation to anyone who is or wants to advocate for autism. Please put some strings on your advocacy so that any monies or support goes toward the cause, prevention, and ultimately the elimination of autism. Autism has been extensively researched since 1960 and they have not yet identified the cause! After all, it was only 1903 that man was first able to fly but only sixty-six years later man walked on the moon. When using volunteers and taxpayer monies I believe the effort should be to help the children and their families rather than growing the business of autism.