Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Health insurance status quo is not sustainable

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
We sometimes forget that health insurance is just that. It is a form of insurance. The term means that you pay an insurance premium to help you when there are high cost items. You buy car insurance to cover the costs of the risks associated with driving. The risks include damage to your car and injuring someone else in an accident. You can decide on how much you pay for the insurance. If you have a high deductible, then your premium is lower. However, if you have an incident, you will have to pay more out of pocket. If you have a lower deductible, then your premium is higher. Your premium is increased if you are felt to be a risky driver. If you have an accident, you will have a higher premium. In some cases, insurers might stop insuring someone if they have too many accidents. For health care insurance, the expectations tend to be different. People expect to have low premiums and low deductibles. However, like any insurance the two do not usually go together. The reason is more related to the fact that everyone needs ongoing health care. Everyone has medical bills to pay. However, there are many forms of insurance for which we pay a premium and never collect. The individual who buys life insurance will never collect on that policy. Their relatives will collect when they die. The individual who buys car insurance may not have an accident. That individual will never collect any money from the insurer. We pay homeowners insurance, however, we rarely have claims on that policy. That is not true with health care. Even if we only go for an annual checkup, we all have health care expenses. The real question is who should pay for those expenses? Our current health care system is an expensive one. The federal government does not have enough money to pay for it all. Employers do not have enough money to continue to provide full health care coverage for all their employees. Individuals can afford some but not all of their health care. That is especially true if they have a serious illness or accident. As is the case with any complicated scenario, the solution has to be complex. One piece of the solution needs to be improving the way we provide health care. There are a lot of unnecessary expenses built into our system. In some cases that is due to patients requesting unnecessary tests. In other cases that is related to providing medical care to individuals who have experienced a complication of a medical procedure. Sometimes it is because people are not taking care of their health and then require health care that otherwise would not be necessary. These are just a few examples of the kinds of things that drive up health care costs unnecessarily. Another piece of the solution is for everyone to realize that until these changes are made to the underlying system costs for each payer will go up. That does not matter if the payer is the government, the employer or the individual. Unfortunately, like most situations, people tend to look at this problem only from their own perspective. I frequently get mailings from retiree organizations suggesting that I complain about costs going up for retirees. I get similar mailings from military organizations suggesting that I complain about costs going up for military personnel. What these kinds of things accomplish is a request to maintain the status quo. The status quo is not maintainable so all this does is delay the kinds of actions that really need to be taken to begin to fix a system that is based upon insurance but does not follow any of the rules of any kind of normal insurance program.

Summer celebration of hope On Aug. 14, "A Summertime Beach Party" will be held to benefit patients at the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center. Enjoy this Longaberger Breast Cancer fundraiser, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Heritage Shores with friends, family and Pink Sand Premier sponsor Sussex County Federal Credit Union. In addition to celebrating survivors and honoring loved ones, each attendee will receive a 2012 Horizon of Hope Basket and dinner while also enjoying fun activities, a silent auction as well as a premiere of Longaberger holiday products. For tickets call 628-1132.

DBCC hosts survivors event The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) will host an event for breast cancer survivors on Wednesday, July 18 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Independence Club House in Millsboro (23767 Samuel Adams Circle). This month's event will focus on healthy eating and summer recipes from the garden presented by Chef Marti. You will be able to eat what the group makes. This event is part of the "Sussex Survivor Social" series which is organized by DBCC as a social group for breast cancer survivors in Sussex County. Through these events, survivors meet monthly to learn a craft, volunteer, socialize, or learn about a health topic. The event is free and donations are welcome to offset the cost of food. Event is open to all breast cancer survivors and an RSVP is required. RSVP to Connie Holdridge at 302-644-6844 or

State receives money from GSK Delaware is set to receive nearly $1 million in a proposed national settlement between approximately 25 states, the federal government, and drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The $3 billion settlement, which is the largest of its kind in U.S. history, resolves claims that GSK operated various illegal schemes in pricing and marketing its drugs. Allegations claim that the company carried out an illegal plan to market and sell certain drugs by promoting them for non-FDA-approved uses, falsely representing the drugs' safety and efficacy, offering kickbacks to medical professionals, and underpaying rebates owed to Medicaid and other federally-funded healthcare programs for purchasing GSK-manufactured drugs. Of the total settlement recovery, $2 billion in damages and civil penalties will go toward compensating federal healthcare programs, including Medicaid, for harm suffered as a result of GSK's alleged illegal practices. Delaware-based claims have led to over $2 million in recoveries, nearly half of which will go to the state directly through the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance within Delaware Health and Social Services.

Heat, low oxygen kill fish On July 4, DNREC responded to reports of a fish kill in Rehoboth Beach's Silver Lake that initially involved an estimated 1,500 gizzard shad 2 to 4 inches long along with 800 white perch the same size, plus a few bluegills and a largemouth bass. DNREC scientists continued to investigate the cause of the fish kill, which had broadened overnight to include both juvenile and adult fish of those same species - with approximately 5,000 to 6,000 dead gizzard shad of all sizes and 600 adult white perch, plus adult blue gills and largemouth bass. Surface water testing on both days indicated that dissolved oxygen levels in the water have been low enough in Silver Lake to be lethal for fish. These conditions repeat a familiar pattern for fish kill occurrence - high temperatures and an excessive microscopic algae bloom result in low oxygen levels in shallow water.

Anyone observing an unusual number of dead or dying fish in Delaware ponds, rivers or other waterways are encouraged to report their observations, including an estimate of how many fish are involved, and, if known, the species of fish. To report a suspected fish kill, call the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and DNREC's citizen complaint hotline at 1-800-662-8802 after hours and on weekends.

State investigates VRSA case Test results received by Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) indicate that a 70-year-old New Castle County man became the third Delawarean to develop the rare vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) infection. The first and second cases were positively identified in 2010. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this brings the national case total to 13 since 2002. VRSA is a type of antimicrobial-resistant staph bacteria. While most staph bacteria are susceptible to the antimicrobial agent vancomycin, VRSA has developed resistance and cannot be successfully treated with this drug. However, to date, other Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs are successful in treating the infection. CDC findings indicate that persons developing VRSA infections are those who have several underlying health conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease or have had previous staph infections, been hospitalized, had tubes going into their bodies or recent exposure to vancomycin or other microbial agents. For more information about VRSA, visit

State to expand response time The Office of the Surgeon General, Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) have awarded the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) with the 2012 Special Project Award for States in the amount of $10,000. The grant helps build the public health infrastructure of communities nationwide. The Delaware Medical Reserve Corps (DMRC) was chosen for this award because of the ability to show that these funds would have a measurable impact on the state," said Steve Blessing, chief of DPH Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness Section. DMRC is a community-based volunteer corp of medical and healthcare professionals and other community members who give their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies in Delaware. DMRC staff and volunteers are organized and trained to address a wide range of challenges from public health education to disaster response. DMRC supplements existing medical and public health staff for prevention of and response to a public health emergency or disaster event. In addition to the DMRC's special project award, the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) awarded DPH a grant for $20,000 to support the recruitment, training, and management of volunteers to respond in radiological emergencies in Delaware. These volunteers will be recruited as part of the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps. For more information on volunteer opportunities, training or registration with DMRC, contact Donzella Johnson at 302-223-1720.

BIAD hosts annual Crab Feast The Brain Injury Association of Delaware (BIAD) is hosting its fifth annual Crab Feast Fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 4 to 8 p.m. The menu includes all you can eat crabs, corn on the cob, chicken tenders, french fries, and non-alcoholic beverages. A cash bar will be available and benefits the Leipsic Fire Company. Cost is $32 per person, $8 for kids ages 5 to 12 and free for kids under 5. The event will also feature an "Extreme Bake Sale." There will also be a 50/50, door prizes, and merchandise raffle. Buy tickets online at or call 1-800-411-0505 for more information.

Free to Breathe Delmarva run/walk Register today for the third annual Free to Breathe Delmarva 5K Run/Walk, 1 Mile Walk and Kids' Dash, a fun event for the entire family that brings the community together to inspire hope and create change for everyone impacted by lung cancer. The event will be held on Sunday morning, Aug. 12 at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes. Online registration ends Aug. 8. All proceeds support the National Lung Cancer Partnership's vital research, education and awareness programs. For more information, to register or donate, visit

Parkinson's Support Group A Parkinson's Support Group is being held in Seaford on the third Monday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Nanticoke Senior Center. The group focuses on educating members about Parkinson's through guest speakers and small group discussions. Persons with other movement disorders are welcome to join the group as much of what is discussed is not limited to Parkinson's. New members are encouraged to attend. Reservations or advance notification is not required. For more information, call Dennis Leebel at 302-644-3465.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

HIV/AIDS Support Group A new support group for HIV/AIDS will meet every other Wednesday, at 7 p.m., in the Branford Lounge at Epworth United Methodist Church at 19285 Holland Glade Rd., Rehoboth Beach. The group is sponsored by Epworth UMC, CAMP Rehoboth, the AIDs Delaware and Delaware HIV Consortium. For more information, contact David at

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is being held at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, at the Seaford Library. The free support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. The two-hour support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support, and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.