BlogHer Community Activism: Where’s the Healthcare?

The power gals over at BlogHer (online community for women bloggers founded in 2005) have had a stroke of genius: What if, they thought, every one of their 11,000+ members worked together to focus their collective brainpower, ingenuity and influence on one red-hot issue? “How about if that one red-hot issue was the focus of an organized, year-long campaign to make a measurable difference that this community cares about?”

To this end, last week the group’s trio of founders launched Part I of an initiative called BlogHers Act. In this first phase, the ladies are asking for recommendations on which global issue(s) the community finds most sizzling and in need of attention. (Men are more than welcome to contribute, btw!)

The ladies are Thinking Big here. They hope to create a voter manifesto identifying the top issues that the community wants addressed during the American presidential election in 2008. The motto being, “together, we can make a difference.” Check out the many recommendations to date HERE.

Yet co-founder Elisa Camahort of Healthy Concerns blog is a little taken aback that healthcare seems to have so little play thus far. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely been mentioned and included on lists of hot issues,” she writes, “but I’m waiting for someone to really blow our minds and twist our hearts in two with their healthcare story. Maybe one of you, dear readers?”

Sick_cover Hell, yeah. Is healthcare not one of the biggest crises facing America? A system that wasn’t great to begin with is completely unraveling. Diabetes alone is estimated to be strapping the system for $132 billion a year, primarily for reactive treatment of complications — while experts say preventative testing and proper patient education could slash the incidence of complications by up to 90%. Plus every dollar invested in such training could cut healthcare costs by up to $8.76.

Meanwhile, I wanted to note how many emails I’ve received from folks out there with diabetes who say they have no health insurance and cannot afford to pay even for their glucose test strips…

Love it or hate it, Michael Moore’s Sicko is airing the dirty laundry on the pathetic state of health coverage for citizens of this rich nation of ours. The offbeat filmmaker even got Oprah riled up on the topic, calling a Town Hall Meeting around the statement:

“Health care should be guaranteed to every American, remove the profit from the system, and regulate the pharmaceutical companies.”

So here’s the deal: If you think you can convince the influential BlogHer community to take on healthcare, get posting. You’ve only got until the end of this week (June 15th). Details here. Then the group will launch a survey to finalize the issue selection.

I know a lot of things in this country could use some fixin’. But from where I stand, Global Warming and the Healthcare Mess look head and shoulders above all the other red-hot crises.

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24 Responses

  1. Marina
    Marina June 11, 2007 at 8:06 am | | Reply

    Universal healthcare would be a TERRIBLE idea for diabetics. Do you want the government only providing error-prone BD Logic meters, one per person, and a maximum of 4 strips per day? Want to wait 9 months for your next endocrine appointment, and not be able to switch to a better provider? Want to be denied access to an insulin pump because shots are less expensive? Universal healthcare takes away *options* and market demands are the only thing that can successfully bring about medical advances and lower prices.

  2. Melissa
    Melissa June 11, 2007 at 11:51 am | | Reply

    Yeh, market demands really bring about what we want, I still don’t see a cure. Actually, if the governtment had to pay our medical expenses there would be a bigger push for actual cures. Not to mention, technically our elected officials are using a “socialized medicine” structure already, if it’s good for them why not the rest of us?

  3. Manny Hernandez
    Manny Hernandez June 11, 2007 at 2:12 pm | | Reply

    Do you know if the gals over at BlogHer are aware that their site is down? Do you have alternate means of letting them know?

    I think you should link to this post from TuDiabetes. I can, if you want me to, but I prefer doing it once their site is back up. Let me know.

  4. AmyT
    AmyT June 11, 2007 at 2:18 pm | | Reply

    That’s just great, Manny, thanks…

    OK, it seems the site was down briefly this afternoon due to traffic overload after “BlogHers Act” was linked by the Washington Posts’ most popular blogger today! Cool… and the site should be back up now.

  5. Crimson Wife
    Crimson Wife June 11, 2007 at 5:05 pm | | Reply

    Having had to endure 5 years’ worth of the military healthcare system, I would NOT wish socialized medicine on anyone! I do agree, however, that we as a country need to do something to fix the healthcare mess. Perhaps by putting a “sin tax” on junk food & using the proceeds to subsidize coverage for low-to-moderate income families.

    In terms of diabetes prevention, parent education is so critical. I get so furious when I see overweight toddlers and preschoolers being fed c*** by their parents. Can’t they see what they are doing to their kids????

  6. AmyT
    AmyT June 11, 2007 at 7:16 pm | | Reply

    Wait, did I say anything about universal healthcare/socialized medicine? I don’t remember mentioning it…

  7. Lauren
    Lauren June 11, 2007 at 9:12 pm | | Reply

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a newly diagnosed type 1 in my mid-twenties. I have “individual” health coverage designed for indestructible twentysomethings –high deductible, only generic drugs covered, short list of doctors to choose from, etc. I pay out of pocket for test strips, insulin, pretty much everything. The reasoning behind my insurance company’s refusal to pay for my Lantus and Humalog: they aren’t generic drugs. !!!!

    I am actively researching the possibility of pumping insulin — I spoke with a nurse case reviewer and she said a pump would be considered only if “medically necessary.” I don’t fully understand what this means — they want an out-of-control A1c? Do I have to be half-dead? I imagine them saying, “No, she was only in a coma for three months; we like them to be in a coma for the better part of a year before we’ll cover anything.”

    I’d like an insulin pen but I’m sure I’m in for a fight if I ask my insurance company to cover it. Since the HumaPen holds 3mL cartridges I would probably wind up paying more per month for my insulin.

    These insurance companies have us over a barrel when it comes to insulin and test strips. Of course we’re going to pay for them — what’s the alternative? I suppose there is a (grisly) alternative, but it’s unacceptable to most of us.

    Such is life. While my diagnosis came as probably the greatest shock of my life, I am grateful that I live in America and therefore have ready access to the supplies I need, even if the cost is out of pocket. I’m applying to medical school, and I hope in the future I’ll have the opportunity to be part of the healthcare solution in this country.

  8. Thomas
    Thomas June 12, 2007 at 5:52 am | | Reply

    A UK perspective may help.

    We have the “big government” style of socialised healthcare here. As a diabetic (T1 for c. 20 years) my healthcare exprience has been as follows:

    * Meters and test strips – all freely available at no cost, irrespective of make/type (there are a few meters that are not on the NHS list, but they are not readily available in the UK anyway);

    * Insulin & insulin pens – never had any problem with any of the varieties of insulin on the UK market, all available free of charge to diabetics at the point of use;

    * Access to health professionals – I’ve always had access to bi-annual check-ups from my hospital specialists with nurse support available without appointment;

    * Pumps/pump supplies – bad experiences in the 80′s led the NHS to tightly ration pumps, there is a long process to get a pump on the NHS;

    * Other items – I was immediatey prescribed statins almost as soon as the ink on the report recommending them for use in diabetics was dry!

    * Overall Access – the help and support is available if you ask for it, I am aware that UK diabetics get a fairly patchy service through their General Practitioners, but superior healthcare is available in specialist hospital units;

    * Diabetic training and education – we’ve been slow starters on this, but, in my region, DAFNE and other training is available to T1s that want it.

    The biggest irritation with the NHS system is that we seem to be lagging behind other countries by five years in the treatment methodology. However, we seem to have a reasonable degree of access to supplies and help without cost or charge. We aren’t rationed to small numbers of strips or other supplies.

    The system is a long way from perfect and Mr Blair’s government has done its best to mess things up (suggested reading nhsblogdoc.blogspot.com), but the insurance system that is employed in the States seems to be a pain for those that can afford coverage and a nightmare for the poorer members of society.

    Commentators often deride “Socialised Medicine”, but, going beyond diabetes care, an individual’s health can be as much affected by the health of society as a whole as by their own cover (the best medical insurance in the world won’t help if drug resistant TB is endemic in your population).

  9. Jules
    Jules June 12, 2007 at 7:14 am | | Reply

    If I ran a medical blog I surely wouldn’t mention an opportunist like Michael Moore. Good way to lose your credibility. Perhaps you should take a trip outside of San Fran which is a world all it’s own.

  10. Melissa
    Melissa June 12, 2007 at 7:36 am | | Reply

    I never said socialized medicine was perfect, but I do think it is better than the current system in America. You know, you can get free syringes in America if you’re a drug addict, but if it’s for diabetes you’ll be paying for them. Healthcare for profit does not work and our system is falling apart. I have what is considered pretty darn good health benefits with my pretty darn good job here in America and I still have to struggle to make ends meet most of the time. I had to give up using the meter I really liked about 3 years after I got it because my insurance company decided they would no longer cover strips for that meter. In fact, my insurance company will only cover strips for 7 meters and they are from only 2 companies. They will only cover a Minimed pump, although I appealed that and did eventually get approval for the Omnipod. I have to pay a $30 copay for every visit to my general practitioner and every visit to my endocrinologist. On top of all that, the latest one instituted at my clinic is that if I go in to see my endo for a diabetes follow up and mention that I have a sore throat or anything else not directly related to my diabetes, or vice-versa with the general practitioner, I’m charged a $30 copay for every separate issue!

    And how about the 43 million Americans who don’t even have health coverage? I work in the medical field. These people end up in the ER for non-emergency issues because there is nowhere else they can go. This jacks up the costs for everyone else. Those “free” medication programs the pharmaceutical companies offer to those without insurance/poverty stricken? Those with insurance are paying for them through higher and higher premiums, they’re not free.

    Regardless of how you feel about Michael Moore there is indeed a huge problem with the healthcare system in America and I shudder to think what will happen if we don’t actually fix it and just sit around and wait until it completely falls apart before we do anything.

  11. claire
    claire June 12, 2007 at 8:11 am | | Reply

    wow, you’re all so scared of the word “socialized”. are you afraid that having adequate health care will make you all commies? pathetic.

    i lived in germany in the nineties and paid a monthly premium of around forty dollars. this covered EVERYTHING: every doctor’s visit, which i didn’t require referrals for (yes, that’s right, i could just up and go to any doctor i wanted for any reason), every prescription for everything, dental, even my glasses.

    that’s right, i didn’t pay a pfennig for my test strips, my pen, my insulin … nothing. plus, the diabetes establishment there was among the best in the world. i had the best treatment there, the best doctor, that i’ve had in my entire life.

    what there is of so-called “socialized” medicine in the states–in the military for example–is hobbled by the american view that you SHOULDN’T get ANYTHING easy or free. so cost-free or reduced cost medical care means that you have to accept absurd restrictions.

    this is an AMERICAN view and has nothing to do with the concept of socialized medicine itself. if you want to know why the medical system in our country is such a mess, just look at the comments above. we, the diabetics, esp. the t1s, are the ones who suffer the most from lack of socialized health care. and yet we (well, actually, YOU, not me) are the ones who scramble first to deny that complete and adequate care is what we WANT.

    idiots.

  12. Jules
    Jules June 12, 2007 at 9:39 am | | Reply

    Comparing the US to Germany or any other European country is nonsense. These countrys would surely falter if they didn’t have our medical research and technology to siphon off. Our medical system in not a “mess” it’s the best in the world. Access to the system is what needs fixing. Intelligent discussion and consesus will hopefully bring us to this. At the same time, if we want to continue to receive the best of care in the free world, we are going to have to get used to the idea of having to pay more for our healthcare. Yes, we’ll have to reduce the number of ballet classes or soccer lessons for the kids or give up that yearly trip to Germany. If we want to continue to see advances in medical care we have got to let it remain a free market system. Check out your local hospital emergency room if you want to see what socialized medicine will be like for a simple doctor visit. Maybe we should have two systems, one for the people that want the Government run system that would be free and the other buying in to the free market version. Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan of the early 90′s made it illegal to visit a doctor of your choosing. It was illegal to operate a for profit clinic. People were looking at developing floating clinics/hospitals off the coast for people that wanted to pay for better care. What a nightmare if it had passed. On top of that we’ve got global warming that we have to fix or else we are all going to die!!

  13. melissa
    melissa June 12, 2007 at 10:10 am | | Reply

    No, America does not have the best healthcare in the world, just google that very line, find some actual statistics and you will see that while we do not have the worst healthcare, we certainly do not have the best either. It never fails to amaze me how many Americans (and yes, I am an American) have absolute tunnel vision when it comes to what goes on outside of their own country.

    Neither are we the most advanced in medical technology. Israel is considerably ahead of us when it comes to medical technology/research. And we lost quite a few top-notch medical scientists with the ban on stem cell research, they went to other countries that are advancing faster than America.

    Burying your head in the sand and insisting we have the best healthcare in the world is certainly not going to help the situation. In what dreamworld does a country with 43 MILLION people without access to adequate healthcare qualify as the BEST healthcare in the world?!?!?

    And just be willing to pay more? I don’t think so. In America we are gouged on drug prices. There is no cap on what the pharmaceuticals can charge us and there is practically a 200% markup on some drugs. If I were unfortunate enough to be one of the 43 million without health insurance, I would be dead now with the cost of having T1 diabetes. There is no way I could afford it without insurance, and even with insurance I am always one paycheck away from homeless/bankrupt and I’ve had to decide “food or insulin”.

  14. David Parker
    David Parker June 12, 2007 at 10:30 am | | Reply

    Jules-

    A medical “system” is all about access. Without good access there is no real “system.”

    ALL of us older than 64 have access to the government run Medicare plan. It’s efficient administratively and, speaking for myself, provides very good care. It’s not free, but the costs seem reasonable. Private insurance supplements Medicare seamlessly, too. Unfortunately, we have a good system near the end of life rather than when it would do the most good at the beginning or middle of life. Go figure.

  15. melissa
    melissa June 12, 2007 at 10:43 am | | Reply

    Oh yeh, about reducing the number of ballet classes and soccer for the kids – what do you suggest in my situation? I’m single, I have no children. I am taking care of myself and my cats only. I’ve already cut every corner I can and still I’m only a paycheck away from homeless. I make “gross” just enough money to not qualify for any kind of assistance whatsoever, whereas if they based it on my actual take-home pay after taxes I would qualify for help. I’m drowning and all I can do is tread water and hope – and I’m one of the luckier ones in America, I have a good job, “good” health insurance and a support network of family and friends to help out in dire times.

  16. AmyT
    AmyT June 12, 2007 at 11:01 am | | Reply

    Wow, this just proves my point: the healthcare issue is RED HOT.

    btw, I’m neither advocating nor dissing the whole Socialized Medicine concept: I’m just saying that the BlogHer initiative is looking for SOME GOOD IDEAS to improve healthcare… So rather than sniping at each other, how ’bout we come up with some?

  17. Titos
    Titos June 12, 2007 at 3:00 pm | | Reply

    The US has at the same time both the best and the worst health care system in the developed world. The best for those who can afford insurance, substantial co-payments or private care. The worst for those who can’t. And the worst for those with chronic conditions. If you are diagnosed with type 1 as a kid you can’t get health coverage in most States as an adult, unless it is through your employer. If you’re unemployed or poor you can forget it, with the exception of a few States (New York, Massachusetts etc). Talking about socialized medicine is nonsense. The issue is should someone bear the risk alone for something he has no control of – or should society at large bear that risk. And in the name of societal solidarity European countries have agreed that no one should bear the risk alone. Which is why in Europe there is universal coverage and why disease does not drive anyone to bankruptcy. Nobody says the system is perfect and a lot of improvements are due, but Europe spends less on health care as a proportion of GDP and clinical outcomes are better and life expectancy longer.

  18. Island in the Net
    Island in the Net June 12, 2007 at 4:15 pm | | Reply

    “In America we are gouged on drug prices.”

    It’s a free market system. If you have something I want you can charge whatever I am willing to pay for it. Caps on price of what drug companies charge mean caps on profits which means caps on what they can pay employees which means caps on my take home pay which means caps on where what house I can buy and where my kids go to college. Screw that shit. I want a house, a car, college tuition for my kids, retirement savings and a vacation.

    Also, the profits from drug A are to allay the cost of the risk that drug B might be a dismal failure.

  19. melissa
    melissa June 12, 2007 at 5:45 pm | | Reply

    Wow, now there’s a real winner Island in the Net. Talk about American GREED! I’d love to have all the things you’ve listed too, unfortunately I don’t work for a pharmaceutical company so I’m not making the big bucks at the expense and lives of others. A cut in drug prices won’t financially harm me at all, in fact I’d get to keep a bit more of my paycheck to pay for a roof over my head and maybe even a few luxuries that I cannot now, nor probably ever will, be able to afford.

    Free market?!?!? No, it’s not a free market if there is only one company producing the drug you need and you have no alternative but to pay what they charge or die. Ever heard of drug patents? And if it’s such a “free market”, why are the pharmaceutical companies pushing for legislation to ban Americans from getting drugs from other countries? Especially since oftentimes the drugs are manufactured right here in the good ol’ USA, sold and shipped to another country, and then re-routed back to American consumers at a more reasonable price. Afraid of a little competition within a free market, eh?

    And “cap on what they can pay their employees”?!?!? I work for a hospital that is owned by an insurance company and while the CEOs are rolling in money, the rest of us employees, you know, the ones actually doing the WORK, are by no stretch of the imagination rolling in money.

    You must be pretty well off if not outright rich Island. You just proved to me what I’ve always thought all along, once you reach a certain level you just piss on the rest of us.

  20. AmyT
    AmyT June 12, 2007 at 5:52 pm | | Reply

    Melissa, enough with the attack comments here, please. Or I’m going to have to cut you off, Gal.

  21. Sarah
    Sarah June 12, 2007 at 10:32 pm | | Reply

    I just want to add my 2 cents: A “socialized” healthcare system DOES work. But it is not free. You must pay more in taxes. If the majority of people agree to pay more for the benefit of the sick and the poor, it works. The idea is that the coverage is there if they one day need it.

    I live in Canada. Doctors visits are “free”. Wait times are sometimes lengthy, and the system is not perfect. But I know that a student, senior, or poor person with Type 1 diabetes does not have to die, since they can all get equal access to a specialist. Bloodwork is free. Diabetes education classes are free. Treatment of complications is
    free.

    There is an issue when it comes to prescriptions. Overall, we pay a fraction of what the US pays. For instance, I pay $28 Canadian for a vial of Humalog. The issue is that different provinces have different prescription payment plans.

    I am lucky. Once I pay 3% of my income, ALL of my test strips, insulin, insulin pump supplies, etc. are free, 100% covered. Some provinces do not cover anything. However, the Canadian Diabetes Association is working on a National Drug Plan with the government that will equalize the coverage of diabetes supplies nationwide. The goal is that no one will have to pay more than 3% of their income on supplies.

    The problem is that the government does not want to pay for a largely preventable lifestyle choice disease (Type 2 diabetes). It will be hard to convince them that Type 1 diabetics, who need the plan most to *live*, should not be suffering just because of others. This is because we are such small numbers compared to Type 2.

    When it comes to Type 2 diabetes, the focus will *always* be on prevention, since most cases can be prevented.

    I have to admit it has been hard to go to government meetings and have them say to a thin Type 1 that we “need to get the kids off junk food so we can prevent diabetes in the first place instead of pay for it”, knowing that they don’t have a clue that Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.

    For the US, perhaps the ADA needs to get involved here. Either way, it’s really sad that people have to die because they are born with the genes for Type 1 diabetes and can’t afford to live.

    What can be done? Wipe out Type 2 diabetes, because it is a drain on the system. We know 80-90% of cases can be prevented or delayed into old age, and are a direct result of lifestyle. People who refuse to change their habits can pay for their own healthcare. Many Type 2 diabetics could go off medication if they really made the effort to change early on. It is a lie that Type 2 is a progressive disease. Perhaps if you follow the high carb ADA diet..hey, it keeps them with supporters!

    Second, Type 1 diabetics diagnosed in childhood should not have a blanket ban for coverage and should be assessed on an individual basis. I find it illogical that an overweight Type 2 diabetic with heart disease can get coverage but a complication free Type 1 diagnosed at age 17 can not.

    The government should also regulate Big Pharma, limiting profit mark-ups on vital medications and supplies.

    Lastly, medicare/caid should cover *anyone* without coverage, at least until they are able to find a job. There needs to be a back up plan, especially for those who will die without insulin or end in in a bed in the ER.

  22. John
    John June 20, 2007 at 8:56 am | | Reply

    1. There is no global warming
    2. There is no health care crisis

    Ignorance is rampant in this country, yet I am glad we can opine. Having lived through the 60′s and 70′s and supposed ice age comments by Paul Ehrlich (that days useful idiot like Al Gore). Man is not that powerful to mess things up. Having traveled to 40+ countries and witnessing first hand the health care given and denied, plus witnessing earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions remember Pinutubo? Most of you do not have clue what I am talking about because of your historic and geographic ignorance. Thanks for listening.

    P.S. I am type II and am thankful I will live a long life due to pharma research!

  23. maria
    maria June 23, 2007 at 7:04 pm | | Reply

    As someone with type 1 diabetes, I completely concur that something is NOT right with America’s health care system and something needs to be done. I am a poor college student (actually studying to be a nurse) and working at my restaurant job as a waitress, it was suddenly decided 7 months ago that I made too much money (just over the “gross” income limit) to stay on state-funded health insurance. As I cannot both pay my rent and for food as well as the ridiculous prices for insulin and diabetic supplies, you can imagine I’ve had a very hard time these past 7 months trying to find an insurance company that I can both afford and that actually covers my insulin, because it’s either they don’t accept pre-existing condition applicants or they don’t cover brand-name prescriptions, and as only about 3 companies hold monopoly over insulins and refuse to let any others make cheaper, generic ones… I’m basically screwed. Lucky for me I have a kind former doctor who gives me “free” samples of my test strips and insulin so that I can continue to afford living expenses. I took a lower paying job (than a waitress, you can imagine.)just so I can qualify for state health care again, because at least it covered my diabetic supplies.
    Also, as someone who takes tight control over her care, eats healthy and exercises, and is nowhere near obese, I am offended to be lumped in the same category as the COMPLETELY different disease of Type 2 Diabetes, or to be told that it is preventable.
    I did nothing to cause my disease and certainly never asked for it. It is disheartening to have such a difficult and trying time searching for coverage for the materials I need to stay alive, just to be denied over and over again.

  24. Julie
    Julie July 16, 2007 at 3:38 pm | | Reply

    Need for Politicians to recognize diabetes health crisis in minority communities

    Efforts to address growing diabetes concerns among African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans suffered a major setback most recently in California when Assemblymember and Appropriations Committee Chair Mark Leno killed a diabetes bill that hoped to help alleviate this growing public health crisis. The bill was an expressed priority of the California Democrat Legislative Black Caucus. After listening to extensive information on the increasing diabetes epidemic and the disproportionate suffering from diabetes it in minority communities Leno, with the authority as Chair of the Appropriations Committee, still moved to kill the bill by placing the bill in suspense file.
    In the late 1990s California experienced a 60% increase in diabetes among the adult population. In tandem with national trends, it is California’s minority populations who suffer in the highest numbers from this diabetes epidemic and obesity. The bill, which was brought forth by Mervyn M Dymally Legislative Black Caucus Chair and Assemblymember from Compton, presented to Leno and the committee the disproportionate statistics and immediate health concerns of diabetes effecting minority communities. Dymally explained that 10.3% of African American, 9.3% of Native Americans, and 6.0% of Latinos suffer from diabetes and obesity compared with 5.6% of whites and 4.7% of Asian Pacific Islander communities. For those diagnosed with diabetes health related problems can be very serious including high blood pressure, blindness, heart disease, and even fatalities. Moreover, minority communities suffer the highest number of diabetes related deaths compared with the general population of those diagnosed with diabetes.
    The bill, that Leno effectively made sure would never be enacted, proposed to study the factors and causes contributing to high rates of diabetes and obesity in Latinos, African-Americans, and Native Americans in this country, starting with California. The bill would further have called for a task force to prepare a report containing recommendations on how to reduce instances of diabetes and such debilitating conditions among these ethnic groups. Dymally as Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus expressed his deep concern and dismay over Leno’s actions in the Appropriations Committee in killing the bill.

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