Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Bits & Pieces - January 30th

Potpourri, Healthcare, Quality of Life, Germantown

Concealed Carry Classes

The first two Germantown Police Department-conducted Concealed Carry classes were held this past Saturday.  Since I drive past the parking lot area going to and from my home, I couldn't help but notice the number of vehicles present.

Chief Hoell indicated that each of the two classes had upwards of 45 participants.  The indication from the participants' reviews was that the classes were very well constructed and delivered.  My understanding is that this course is designed to help those who excercise their right to carry to be aware of the ramifications to which they are exposing themselves by doing so.  As most police officers are taught, if you ever draw your weapon and find it necessary to use it, you will have changed your life forever.

Texting While Driving

I was driving a couple of weeks ago nearing La Crosse and a young lady drove past at about 75 miles per hour looking down as she texted.  This was my first time to observe texting going on at high speeds; I have seen it periodically from people driving in community traffic at 25, 30 or 40 miles per hour and thought that was a bit foolhardy.

I came across a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in 2009.  This study looked at cell phone useage, texting, etc.  The findings were that texting while driving increased the probability of a crash by 20 times.  Dialing a cell phone, which I've determined I can't do safely, increased the risk of a crash by 2.8 times.  Talking or listening on a cell phone increased the potential for a crash by 1.3 times.

Another Cost Increase in Health Care

We are very much aware of the ever-increasing costs of health care that make themselves known in our lives by increasing costs for health insurance.  There is a new health care data collection change going on now in clinics and hospitals and insurance companies that promises to continue the upward spiral of health care costs.

There is a World Health Organization (WHO) data-gathering program known as ICD-9.  That stands for International Classification of Diseases, Version 9.  The United States has used this for years. It uses some 13,600 different codes to identify the sicknesses or other causes of the particular illness or injury that brought the patient to the treatment facility.

We are behind the rest of the world in that most other countries have been using the later version, ICD-10, for some time.  That makes data-sharing and analysis difficult across borders.  The ICD-10 version uses over 69,000 specific codes compared to the 13,600 codes we have been using.

The health care claims system is automated.  The physician or hospital enters data that is compiled and submitted to an insurer for payment.  The insurer has to process that information to determine what is to be paid based upon reimbursement contracts, services provided, items that may not be covered, etc.  The data systems at every stage are now being changed to accommodate the significantly different codes.  This is injecting additional costs at each step in the process, and promises to bring with it the usual 'bugs' that system changes contain.

Add to that all the required training to introduce the millions of people using this data to the new sysem.  Now a sports injury is just that, a sports injury.  In the coming new world, a sports injury will be much more detailed to include what type of sport, what the nature of the injury was, what kind of ball was it that hit the person, etc., etc.

The American Medical Association is on record asking that the timetable be slowed down but there is no indication this is anything other than an indication of physicians' displeasure.  Imagine the disruption this will cause as the new system is rolled out.  All this is happening at a time when many clinics and hospitals and private practice physicians are still struggling to automate using the current system.

We can expect higher costs, more issues with slow health claims payments, errors in the way health claims are paid, etc. as the various bugs work their way through the system.  Get ready for a lot more strain and angst in your world of health care.  As if there isn't enough already.

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