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Community health care is a crucial component for all communities, particularly those that are underprivileged. I am keen on reviewing a new healthcare plan for Logan County. The CDC defines a “plan” as a rule, regulation, treatment, administrative activity, incentive, or volunteer method of governments and other organizations” (CDC, 2015). I propose an incentive plan for the community. This plan involves a membership fee instead of traditional insurance coverage. According to the most recent census, Logan County has approximately 29,527 residents, and 4.8% of these residents under the age of 65 do not have health insurance. Furthermore, 9.3% of people under the age of 65 are on disability, which means they are covered by Medicaid or Medicare (Census, 2016). The census does not detail the number of individuals on private or government insurance. It’s troubling to imagine the high deductibles those with private insurance, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, must bear considering that we all know deductibles are not inexpensive. In light of this, my proposal is a membership-based healthcare facility for Logan County.
Logan Area currently offers two choices for standard healthcare, which are Medical Professional Solutions and Springfield Center. Between both clinics, the total number of physicians for standard medical care in Logan County is nine, with two additional OBGYN doctors (2016). Logan County also has one hospital with an emergency room. However, this is not a trauma center. As a result, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital is not listed as a trauma center, and most patients are transferred to a location trauma center for more severe cases. The hospital can handle less severe patients, which results in a high count of either government-insured patients or those without health insurance. This is due to neither clinic in the area accepting patients without insurance, and many doctors not accepting several governmental insurance plans. In the area, there are nine primary care doctors and two OB-GYN doctors across the two clinics.
How it works
If we divide the number of Logan County’s residents equally among the available doctors, there would be roughly 3,280 patients per doctor. This number isn’t necessarily accurate, as we do not know how many people seek healthcare from doctors outside of Logan County. However, during my six-year tenure with Dr. Dennis Carroll of Springfield Clinic, his patient load was approximately 4,500. There are several issues that could arise from this setup. First, the doctor may become overworked by trying to fit 30-40 patients into his/her daily schedule, especially during flu season. Second, due to the doctor’s substantial patient volume and overbooked schedules, it could become challenging for patients to book an appointment. Lastly, the doctor may need to reduce the amount of time spent with each patient, which could lead to misdiagnoses or other problems.
Oftentimes, Dr. Carroll saw at least 20 patients in a day during my time working for him. To give you a picture, the clinic opens at 8 am, there are no scheduled patients from 12 noon to 1 pm, and the clinic closes at 5 pm. Each patient is scheduled in 15-minute increments, unless special circumstances require a longer time slot. Therefore, if the doctor only spent 15 minutes with each patient, took an hour for lunch, and saw 20 patients, that would take six hours. That would seem ideal – two hours to chart. The problem? A 20-patient day is quite rare. More typically, the doctor sees 30 patients, each appointment extends beyond the 15-minute mark, and a 2 pm appointment gets pushed to 3 pm or later in a waiting room filled with ill patients. Another issue to consider is high insurance deductibles. HealthCare.Gov–
Applying this type of center in Lincoln may be less complicated than it sounds. Throughout my research, I discovered that Logan Area is already in the process of establishing a new facility. In a phone interview with Amy Sikes from the Logan Region Health And Wellness Department, I discovered the Southern Illinois University College of Medicine (SIU) from Springfield, IL is interested in opening up a facility for low-income families. This facility will include dentistry at the Health and Wellness Department in Lincoln (Olsen, 2016). Amy stated the Health Department already has six rooms established for patient exam spaces as the department used to see teenagers for birth control and sexually transmitted disease checks.
This service is no longer available due to state funding cuts. Amy stated the building has more than 900 square feet available for use and, as stated, SIU is hoping to open their facility in that space. I was unable to reach a representative for SIU, but according to the Journal State Register, the center will seek government funding as part of a government-certified rural health center program. The other membership-based programs I investigated did not mention any government funding. However, I believe this is something that would make the facility more effective. I would like to ask the city of Lincoln to consider the concept of a membership-based program and discuss it further with SIU in hopes of reaching an agreement that satisfies the needs of all low-income residents of Logan Region.
Reduced revenue households are a reality in Logan County. Having a center that could provide solutions and basic healthcare would be very beneficial. The SIU center planning to occupy space within the health department has not stated whether it will include membership services at a fee. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend that the members of the Logan County board discuss this when the facility requests its business license. I firmly believe that the residents of Logan County could lead better lives if affordable basic healthcare was available to them.
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