The photos I took for my project are simple, but I intend for them to have a deeper meaning to readers. I have provided a photo of an ambulance, and a photo of a personal vehicle. This is the decision many Americans make in their own healthcare when they have a medical emergency. Americans will sacrifice their own health to save money instead of paying for ambulance transportation. In a personal experience, while outside an emergency room entry, a personal vehicle pulled into the bay next to our ambulance. A citizen stepped out and stated that their friend was going to need medical attention. Upon inspection, this was in fact the case and the friends of the victim had driven the person to the hospital via a regular car. This can be viewed as a consumer decision, because it is likely that they did not want to call 911 to pay for the ambulance ride. A large portion of the population in the United States has basic Medicare/Medicaid insurance. There also some individuals that have no insurance, especially in some areas of the country with high numbers of immigrants. No person should feel as though they cannot call for help and be treated by professionals due to their insurance or lack thereof. This class has discussed the choices we can make as consumers regarding our health. However, in my own opinion as a provider, this should not be a choice we are concerned with. Unfortunately, that is not the reality that consumers can exist in.
For two questions, I chose “What choice(s) do I have?” and “What is the usual discourse regarding this and similar services?” The choices for pre-hospital and hospital care are relatively simple. You can either take yourself to the hospital, or you can call an ambulance. Now, what most consumers are probably not aware of is that when paramedics show up, you do not have to take the ambulance. You are legally allowed to refuse treatment and transport, or you can be evaluated and choose to refuse transport. Regarding visiting the hospital, you can choose to be seen at emergency department for an illness or you may not. People have hundreds of varying insurance plans, and it is possible that it could be more affordable to be seen by an urgent care clinic or your primary physician. It is important as consumers that we be very aware of what our insurance does cover, so that we are not left with a hefty bill after we receive treatment or visit a healthcare site. Also, we must recognize how Medicare/aid differs from state to state in the event of using an ambulance or visiting the ER. A person may benefit from completing a project such as this, especially with this subject, because we do not consider disasters until they strike. It is rare that a young person in college (or any demographic) would plan ahead for an ambulance ride or ER visit. When the emergency is happening is not the time to stop and think how you will pay for the services.
My final glossary post is regarding pharmaceuticals. This is an area of consumer health that I feel is not researched, uncovered, or questioned enough. Patients take medications blindly, as prescribed by doctors, that are concocted by companies we know little about, with few regulations and lenient testing. We as consumers view commercials with endless lists of side effects and still take these medications.
Direct to consumer ads: DTC advertisements are commercials and ads that are tailored to the public with actors that are not doctors, telling uninformed consumers what type of medications they should be taking. We must as consumers remember that although medications are meant to heal and help people, the companies that produce them are just that, companies! Money runs businesses, and this will always drive the pharmaceutical industry.
Generic: In relation to medications, generic refers to the off brand medications that are not produced by big name companies. These can sometimes be a better choice for consumers for their health and their finances. The drugs are not always exactly the same, and neither are patients. Therefore, it may be better for a patient’s condition to go with a generic over a name brand, or vice versa.
The content for this post comes from our material on dietary guidelines and sugar. The three terms I thought were important to the lecture and consumer health overall go hand in hand.
Trans fat: It is pretty common to hear about how bad trans fats are, but I wanted to look at what they are truly made of. Trans fats, according to the lecture slides, are the result of hydrogenating liquid fats. This essentially means that these fats become solid. On most nutrition labels you will not see any trans fats, however producers are allowed to omit trans fat content if it is <0.5 grams per serving.
Cardiovascular disease: Cardiovascular disease is becoming increasingly common in the United States. Several factors play into CVD which include hypertension and arteriosclerosis (build up of plaque in the arteries) The result of severe CVD can be a heart attack which may lead to cardiac arrest. This condition comes from a poor diet that is laden with fats and sugar, which a typical American diet tends to be. I draw this information from my current experience in the emergency medical field. I have seen firsthand the results of CVD, and the high population that is obese which accompanies it. This is an epidemic we must, as consumers, make healthier choices to prevent from spreading.
Genetically modified: This term refers to food that is grown from seeds modified in a laboratory. These seeds are bred to be drought resistant with higher crop yield, among other benefits. However, there has been much speculation about whether or not foods with genetically modified ingredients may be linked to forms of cancer. Although there is no conclusive evidence as of yet, consumers must look at their own health as a priority when grocery shopping for themselves and their families.
The third glossary post comes from our Financial section. As a college student, the terms from this section were especially prevalent since I am always paying tuition, taking out loans, and attempting to make informed consumer decisions. The terms I chose:
Bankruptcy: I have always heard a lot about bankruptcy, but was unclear on the exact definition until doing more research. It is apparently a general term that one must prove a necessity for, to enter a protected state in which they can repay debt. There are two types, known as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. From the viewpoint of recently graduated college students living in a world (especially WA State and the Seattle area) that is increasingly expensive with large amounts of debt, declaring bankruptcy could be a consumer decision many of us may face.
Education: Rather than simply define the word education, I’d like to look at it from a view for financial consumers. Education has become quite the social norm for our society, and as consumers we have to decide if we would like to partake. However, it is not much of a decision since the pressures to attend are high and the competitiveness of the working world is steadily increasing. The question truly becomes: “We have to attend, so how will we pay for this?” Student debt is a glaring issue that is only becoming worse. As consumers we must research and make the right choices in our journey for a college degree.
Credit: Credit is a term used to describe one’s financial responsibility. Much like making healthy choices as a consumer, you can make healthy/unhealthy choices for your credit. Paying bills on time, or the opposite, can positively and negatively affect your credit. These will then affect our future lives when attempting to be homeowners, car owners etc.
Bankruptcy Definition: What Exactly Is It? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://bankruptcy.findlaw.com/what-is-bankruptcy/bankruptcy-definition-what-exactly-is-it.html
After reviewing the Babies Etc. slides again, I have chosen terms from that section for my second glossary post. Of course the babies and small children themselves are included in the list of consumers, however it is mostly up to parents and other guardians to make smart and healthy choices for this demographic. The terms I chose are:
Pediatric: The definition of pediatric refers to anyone under the age of an adult. Most may think of pediatric as small children and babies only, but for myself as a healthcare provider I think of it in the terms of healthcare guidelines. Technically, patients under 18 can still be seen at a pediatric hospital. However, during patient care when we refer to ‘peds’ or pediatrics, we are referring to small children. This is important to consumers in that parents can choose to have their adolescents seen by specialty hospitals (such as Seattle Children’s)
Nutrition: As consumers, parents and children alike, one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle is food. The decision of what to put into your child’s body should come from a well-informed consumer standpoint. Proper nutrition provides a healthy immune system and creates good future habits. Organic foods as opposed to loads of processed foods will be a much better consumer choice for your child. Nutrition, coupled with exercise, fights conditions such as childhood obesity and diabetes which are becoming rampant in the US.
Chemicals: Lastly, ourselves and our children are exposed to several chemicals daily. As smart consumers, we can alleviate the level of exposure with our choices. As the lecture says, we must be aware of the environment our children are in. An example, BPA can be found in some baby bottles and other dishware. Luckily, WA is the 2nd state to ban BPA from these products (found in the lecture.) Smart consumer decisions include being conscious of the possible chemicals in the plastic products your children are using, or the location of chemical industrial plants etc. in the area around their schools.
My first glossary building post comes from the Birth slides. As someone who intends to be a consumer in this area when the time comes, I found the content to be quite relevant. When preparing to have a child, there seems to be hundreds of choices to make as a parent. Since it is the mother’s decision on the delivery and anything relating to the baby, she has many issues to make the final call on.
The glossary terms I decided were important from these slides were:
Pre-conception: In the slides, it is mentioned that moms and dads should be consumers before the pregnancy, if that is possible. I believe that’s the most important time to be a consumer regarding the child and mother’s health. Pre-conception refers to the stages of your life before deciding to have your first or another child. The CDC offers a national plan for healthy choices to make during pre-conception life stages.
Cesarean: A form of delivery that involves surgery and removal of the baby from the uterus without delivering them through the vaginal canal. This can sometimes be absolutely necessary for the survival of the baby, but can also be a choice for mothers as consumers. However, according to statistics there are 11,000 unneeded C-Sections in WA each year.
Midwife: A certified healthcare professional, some mothers may choose to have a midwife present to assist in the delivery of their baby. WA state law enables Medicaid patients to have midwives paid for, (allowing for more choices for consumers) and receive more pre-natal care. According to the course slides, the rates for C-sections are lower when a mother uses a midwife.
Prompt: Go into your local supermarket that sells not only food, but household products, clothing etc. Attempt to find the section for “natural” or “organic” products around the store and identify them. Study the ingredients, purpose, and manufacturing of the products and formulate whether they are actually helpful and green towards the environment or are simply following a trend to sell to consumers.
Answer: I have noticed a trend among several food products that attempt to gear themselves towards consumers attempting to lead a healthier lifestyle. These products claim to be natural and promote well-being, but are often loaded with sugar or ingredients that are meant to appear healthy but in fact are just as unhealthy as refined sugar or processed ingredients. This makes me angry as a consumer who is seeing companies take advantage of consumers that are attempting to be healthy and improve their lives. Those who do not know better are paying more to hurt their bodies further. This is the most frightening form of greenwashing I have discovered, since it directly affects our health and bodies.
After looking over the FDA’s website, I thought the tab “Questions to Ask Yourself” was the most consumer friendly. This section has the consumer look at themselves and what their own needs are, including why they think they may have a certain condition. (Which I noted in my first post). This has the consumer ask questions rather than blindly follow an ad. This also gets them thinking about the most important factor: themselves as the consumer. However, consumers could still be at risk due to the fact that most will likely not check the FDA website. The public is not as well informed as those in the public health field or classroom. If each commercial had a warning and informative ending asking the consumer to evaluate their needs before seeing a doctor, perhaps less would simply go get a drug prescribed.
In relation to Direct-to-Consumer ads, my top 3 talking points would be:
- Actors in commercials can be just that, actors. It seems morally wrong to have people with no medical training that do not hold the ability to prescribe medications to endorse them to the masses. These actors may have no actual knowledge of the effects of the drug they are promoting, I feel that drugs should only be advertised by people who can in good conscience understand the consequences of taking them.
- These more expensive brand name drugs that may not even be more beneficial to the patient, are being asked for directly due to commercials. Patients do not always know what is best for them, but a doctor is likely to prescribe something that they specifically ask for. Rather than the doctor evaluate their needs prior to the patient asking for a drug to be prescribed to them. A generic drug may actually work better for a patient, since every patient is different. This simply fuels the pharmaceutical industry and allows companies to sway patients towards paying for their drug rather than having the patients’ best interest at heart.
- My final talking point, is the quote from the article saying “Encouraging patients to seek medical attention that may help them manage their conditions and avoid unneeded hospital stays or surgeries.” Pushing drugs on the public via commercials is not encouraging them to see their doctor. This may actually cause them to self-diagnose because they feel they have symptoms relating to a disease they may not actually have.
I think steps towards helping the consumer and the public would be to eliminate these ads, or at least have actual medical doctors endorse the drugs. Those with proper training can understand the side effects and the physiology behind certain diseases and the drugs used to treat them. Doctors should also be encouraged to inform their patients who come asking for these big name drugs about alternatives and generics.
For my idea, I am considering choosing a topic relating to the Health Care section we learned about earlier in the class. For my topic, I’d like to explore health insurance and it’s relation to consumers paying for pre-hospital (ambulances) and hospital care. With many changes being made by the U.S. government recently, I have seen an increase in patients being concerned about how they will pay for the ambulance ride they are about to receive. I’d like to explore consumer’s options when it comes to the bill they are faced with after a hospital visit or being transported via ambulance to the hospital. There are several different types of insurance, but most people are on basic Medicare/aid and I’d like to research how that relates to what consumers are forced to spend on that insurance and possible alternatives.