Monthly Archives: March 2015

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Finding Similarities Between Patients and the NCAA

Here in the office we take March Madness pretty seriously. It’s something that many (if not all) of us look forward to every year. It’s the one month guaranteed to be full of exuberation, desperation, heart-ache, and heart-break. There will be winners, there will be losers. There will be upsets and Cinderella stories you could never have imagined. There will be joy, and there will be pain.

Although we think March Madness is awesome, we can accept that (like in life) there are a few things that give us all some trouble every year. These struggles are similar to the struggles our patients face as well.

Having trouble making your picks?

Whether or not to pick against Kentucky won’t be the only big decision you face this year! If you’re one of our patients, you might find yourself making the equally difficult decision of picking between an MRI and a CT scan.

They’re pretty evenly matched, they’ve both got pros and cons…it’s a toss up, and you’re not sure who will win out in the end. Just like in March Madness, if you’re unsure about who to pick, consider heeding what the analysts say before making a final decision.

Bracket busted?

Unless you’re a psychic, don’t even try to lie about it. After last week’s games, we know your bracket is busted. And while NC State fans are flying high right now, what are you supposed to do when your team hangs you out to dry this early in the bracket? (Yes, we’re looking at you Villanova…) The answer? Pick the next most promising option and go with it.

It’s the same when it comes to healthcare. What do you do when your insurance is cancelled and you’ve got an upcoming procedure? How are you supposed to make it to the finish line when the ones you were counting on leave you hanging? Our solution: pick the next most promising option.

Because we understand how flighty insurance companies (and March Madness teams) can be when it gets down to the wire, we offer our patients super low cash-pay prices as an alternative to fall back on.

Making the right procedure picks and dealing with insurance loss can be hard, and we can’t promise that along the way there might not be some heart-break, some tears, or some frustration. But just like with March Madness, everything always works out in the end (even if the journey is a bit of a surprise).  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the madness that is March!

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Robin’s Story

It was a mild breezy spring day in 2013.  I had just hit a tee shot down the left hand side of #1, which made a fortunate bounce into the fairway, leaving me a short iron from the green.  The call I received before hitting that short iron, felt like a very unfortunate bounce into the deep rough, hazard, or maybe even out of bounds.  The doctor said, “Mr. Embry, the pathology report confirms you have cancer”.  About a month before, I had developed a very sharp pain in my side.  My doctor sent me for a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis of diverticulitis.  The diagnosis was confirmed, however, something else was there that concerned the doctor.  I was scheduled for a colonoscopy – I was 49.  I had many polyps.  The most concerning was a large cancerous looking polyp.  Before I go any further, I want to say there is nothing like hearing “you have cancer”.  However, there is also nothing like hearing “you are cancer free”.  I’m blessed!

During 2013 I had several scopes to remove unhealthy tissue – it wasn’t working. The doctors recommended having a procedure to remove the small segment of my colon that had produced the cancerous polyp and continued to produce pre-cancerous polyps. It was scheduled for January.  Good, let’s get this behind me.  This disease had taken enough of my time and energy.  Let’s get this over.  With family, work, coaching (I was looking forward to my 15th spring of coaching high school golf) I didn’t have time for cancer!  I’m blessed!

The procedure went well, with only a few days in the hospital.  After a couple weeks I was feeling much better and went to see my surgeon for my follow up.  Another loose shot.  The pathology report of the removed segment showed the colon wall contained cancer cells.  There was a possibility the cancer had spread.  My surgeon recommended I have a colon resection – remove the lower third of my colon and all lymph nodes involved.  On March 6 the colon resection was performed successfully.  However, I was left with a temporary ileostomy which would be reversed eight weeks later.  I was told the basic recovery would take several weeks and a full recovery may take up to a year.  After a few days stay in the hospital, I went home looking forward to returning to normal – family, work, & coaching.  I’m blessed!

Once again, after a couple of weeks, I went to see my surgeon for my follow up.  What a well struck shot!  “You are cancer free!” he said.  I understand there is the possibility of recurrence, but boy, to hear those words!  If you are currently battling any sort of cancer – I pray you hear those words!  I was able to work from home and with time began spending more and more time in the office – being with everyone and being useful was good medicine for me.  In addition, although limited, I was able to get to the course with the team!  To spend time with them, our head pro, and all the staff at the course – it was good medicine as well!  With more time, I was back to a full practice & match schedule.  I gradually got back where I could play and was even able to participate in a charity scramble with one of my daughters and a couple of family members.  It was a great day!  Not just because we finished -14 and I was able to make a putt or two and hit a couple of good iron shots; but I was back working, coaching & playing golf!  I’m blessed!

Toward the end of spring I had a procedure to reverse the ileostomy.  After a few days stay in the hospital, I was home recovering.  Physically, this recovery was more difficult than the colon resection.  Yet again, as I was able to spend more time at the office and the course with everyone – it was good medicine for me!  As winter approaches, I’m almost back to my old self – maybe even a better self after this journey!  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many knowledgeable and compassionate health care professionals and connecting with others fighting and recovering from cancer.  I’m blessed with a great wife, Dawn, who stayed by my side every step; loving daughters (Tosha & Carissa), family, & friends who gave me untold encouragement and support!  I’m blessed!

You can find other inspiring testimonials like Robin’s at StopColonCancerNow.com.

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What King v. Burwell Means for Health Care & You

Wednesday morning, Albuquerque Business First reporter Sal Christ shared that the U.S. Supreme Court had begun hearing arguments for the King v. Burwell case, a case that “challenges tax subsidies afforded to low-income patients who wouldn’t traditionally be able to afford insurance as required by the Affordable Care Act”.

The case highlights the claim that the ACA says tax subsidies are available to people who gain health care coverage through a state-established exchange, so if the Supreme Court choses to rule in King’s favor, people in 34 different states across the U.S. that don’t have state-run exchanges set up will lose their tax credits that help them pay for health care coverage.  The inevitable result of this would be millions of low-income individuals forced to drop out of government-mandated health care plans, something that would raise the insurance premiums for other patients.

Thankfully, Colorado is one of only 16 states that operates under a state-based exchange, so most of our patients shouldn’t feel the effects of the case decision either way. Our patients from the surrounding states like Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas may not be so lucky, though.

Although there’s not much that we as a center can do to keep the insurance premiums of our patients from these areas from rising as an after-effect from the Supreme Court decision if it goes in favor of King, what we can do is guarantee that we’re here to help.

If you are one of the many patients who will be forced to drop out of your health care plan due to a loss of these tax credits, we’ll do everything we can to provide you with the lowest self-pay costs in the area. We believe that everyone should have access to medical treatment, regardless of income level or insurance, so we tailor our prices to make them as affordable as possible for our patients.

If you want to know more about the details of the case or the ramifications for patients in various states, you can read the full article here.