What You Don't Know Could Hurt You--Evaluating Health Care

by Lizzy Scully - Date: 2007-02-18 - Word Count: 536 Share This!

When Jenni and Barry Smith* (names changed to protect identity) were looking to relocate for retirement, they thought they had thoroughly researched the health care options in the various areas they were considering. At the time, Barry was dealing with medical issues that required access to cardiology specialists. "As a senior, 'neighborhood' availability and general medical care always need to be considered, even if you aren't currently facing any major issues when you select a location," said Jenni.

The couple knew how valuable long term relationships with care providers were and didn't want to give that up when they moved. Unfortunately, despite their research, the couple discovered problems when they finally relocated to Arkansas. The information they received from the area chamber of commerce, other local resources, state Internet sites, and the hospital website wasn't completely accurate.

"If you look into the Arkansas Hospital Association, you find out that their primary focus is providing marketing advice, support, and services to their members," said Jenni. "We never really thought in terms of being 'marketed' to and accepted that the information being presented was accurate. Then, after we moved, we discovered that getting an appointment with the cardiology clinic of choice wasn't possible without at least a three-month wait. If you need to see a cardiologist, going three months without an appointment is not really an option."

Some of the Smith's neighbors also experienced troubles after they moved. One neighbor fell and broke a bone. As the sole caregiver for her husband, who had suffered from a stroke the year before, she realized that without additional support she would hardly be able to care for either herself or her husband. "If they hadn't been able to afford private pay care, I don't know what they would have done," added Jenni. "Like so many retirees, the support network they once had (children, friends, relatives) was left behind when they moved."

Spurred by her dismay with the system, Jenni began to do additional research on US health care. "Being involved in what our neighbors were going through, and seeing the lack of follow up and rehabilitative care a stroke patient gets, was enough to prompt looking at some unbiased information sources," she explained. "That's when I found out that a hospital can claim to be 'state of the art' even though it's rated at a '2', or poor, when it comes to care for stroke patients. The realities relative to health care didn't measure up, at all, to what was being represented."

"A lot of places are marketing to seniors," she added, "(but) that doesn't mean that they've looked at what they need to offer such a community or that the infrastructure can meet those needs." Jenni recommends that all people who are relocating and who are concerned about health care options do extensive follow-up research using unbiased resources.

"If you can't manage on your own," Jenni added, "you could find yourself all alone without any support network available."

To read more about Internet research resources, visit the following websites:

Medicare: http://www.medicare.gov/

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations: http://www.jointcommission.org/

This site lists the reference resources available for evaluating hospitals: http://www.reference.com/search?q=hospital+ratings&db=web&x=0&y=0

This listed URL links to an excellent overview article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-10/h-hsn101205.php

This PDF article ranks by state using Healthgrades stats: http://www.goldenyearsconsultants.com/dbfiles/Hospital%20Care%20Quality%20Differs%20Markedly%20by%20State.pdf

Related Tags: relocate, retirees, evaluating health care, best places to retire, general medical care

By Lizzy Scully
Managing Editor for FindYourSpot.com, the Internet's best source for relocation information. For more information, please visit http://www.findyourspot.com or http://www.findyourspotrelocationwebsite.blogspot.com

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