Are You “Reiding” This Summer? It Could Help Change Health Care

Do developed countries have an ethical obligation to provide access to health care for everyone? Many would say yes, but how do we pay for it, keep patients healthier and still lower the costs?

With the Affordable Care Act remaining at the forefront of personal, business and political conversations, Aligning Forces for Quality – South Central PA (AF4Q-SCPA) has teamed up with WITF’s Transforming Health initiative, local library systems and others to encourage central Pennsylvania residents to take a closer look at health care in our communities and share ideas for improvement.

While people often visit their local libraries for a good read to take to the beach, we’re asking local residents to specifically participate in A Summer “Reid” this year.

Written by New York Times bestselling author T.R. Reid, the book, “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care,” details how health care is provided around the globe. Reid shares his thoughts on what makes other universal health care systems successful and explains the United States’ system in language everyone can understand.

Why does this matter? It’s been estimated that tens of thousands of deaths every year are associated with a lack of adequate health care coverage. While there are health centers that do provide excellent care free of charge, many people remain unaware of their availability or worry about accumulating medical debt and simply don’t seek the care that they need.
Book discussions at libraries are already underway, including a group from Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg. Natalia Chromiak, adult services librarian at Simpson Library, shared insights from the engaged group she helped to facilitate.

“People were surprised,” said Natalia. “Two or three people thought we had the best health care system in the world, and there was some surprise at how many people die…get sick, have their healthcare get cancelled and can’t get treatment. People were also surprised by the high infant mortality rate.”

Natalia feels that public community centers, such as libraries, are good places for people to go to get the information that they need, without a biased perspective.

“We try to get people the best information and let them make their own decisions,” said Natalia. “People know and trust the library…we try to make it as easy as possible.”

Natalia also collected feedback from the group after their discussion. One participant said:

My reaction to the book is that the U.S. spends and wastes too much money now on health care. I was saddened to read that approximately 22,000 people die because of lack of health care yearly, and the care they needed was denied but could have saved their lives. Our politicians do not seem to have a moral obligation to provide the health care our people need and deserve in our wealthy country. I do not think very many people know how poor our health system is in comparison to other democracies. People do not want to make the changes to help others in the U.S. because they fear the socialism labels.

Natalia shared her own thoughts as well, saying, “What we are doing now is terribly inefficient and expensive. We are spending more than other countries, and too many people are falling through the cracks. We need to bring people to a certain level of awareness, so that they realize how many people are affected unfavorably by our current system.”

To participate in A Summer Reid, simply visit your local library to borrow and read “The Healing of America.” Then, share your reactions and ideas with book clubs, friends, family members, co-workers and etc., using this discussion guide.

Participants can then take this survey by August 30, 2013 for the chance to win a copy of the book, attend a private book signing with Reid and enjoy an invitation-only dinner hosted by AF4Q-SCPA on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 to hear him speak. Thirty winners will be chosen.

To learn more about T.R. Reid, watch his PBS documentary, “The Good News in American Medicine.” Additional details on A Summer Reid can be found at www.aligning4healthpa.org.
 

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