Health News Roundup

Does race determine what hospital you’re brought to in an emergency, and more in this week’s roundup

Jacquelyn Corley, STAT, September 6
Ambulance crews are generally supposed to take seriously ill patients to the closest hospital that offers the necessary emergency services, such as stroke or trauma care. However, new research shows that patients are sometimes transported somewhere else, and that their race may have something to do with it. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that black and Hispanic patients were more likely to be transported to safety net hospitals compared to white patients living in the same zip code. Safety-net hospitals serve a high proportion of people who are uninsured or on Medicaid, and other vulnerable populations.
Helena Oliviero, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 6
Mercy Care’s small but determined Street Medicine team venture into some of Atlanta’s grittiest environs, to engage with the homeless men and women least likely to seek help. Their team goes out on the streets four days a week, often accompanied by a psychiatrist and Emory and Morehouse medical students. With their bandages, antibiotic cream, inhalers and blood pressure monitors, they provide whatever medical treatment they can on the spot. Oftentimes, they provide counseling and psychiatric care for conditions such as bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to medical care, they provide referrals and assistance with the not-so-simple first steps of finding housing and employment, like securing birth certificates and Social Security cards and getting identification with no permanent address.
Paige Winfield Cunningham, The Washington Post, September 11
Nearly 28 million Americans lack health insurance despite the fact that about half of them are eligible for either free coverage or government subsidies. That’s both a discouraging and heartening reality behind new census data showing the country’s pool of uninsured people grew significantly for the first time since the Affordable Care Act almost a decade ago. This year’s uptick in uninsured people was mostly due to changes among the low-income population driven primarily by a decrease in public insurance for the poor, with enrollment in Medicaid dropping by 0.7 percent.

Lauren Weber, NPR, September 5
The use of Groupon and other pricing tools is symptomatic of a health care market where patients desperately want a deal — or at least transparency tools that better nail down their costs before they get care. Groupon has long been used to fill insurance gaps for dental care, but advanced medical scans involve a higher level of scrutiny and may cost you more in the long run.