Thursday, August 20, 2009
It is time for a change in the United States health care system

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

We have been using health insurance to pay for doctor visits for about 70 years. Blue Cross and Blue Shield both began at that time. The idea was to have people pay money to the company who would then pay their medical bills from that pool of money. The logic was that the people who had good health would not need the money while those in poor health could use it. This would average costs and keep costs low for people who got sick. That changed with World War II. Maximum wages were set by the Federal government but health care benefits were not. Thus employers were able to pay for their employees' health insurance since they could not give them higher wages. After the war, the wage freeze ended. However, companies continued paying health benefits because it was expected. Now we have human resource people in big companies whose job is working on employee health benefits. We have billing people in hospitals and doctor's offices whose job is to bill insurance companies for services rendered. We have insurance companies with departments that pay the claims submitted by hospitals and doctors' offices. All of these personnel add cost to the health care system. There are simpler ways to do things. An example is the Medical Savings Accounts that people have where they put aside money from each paycheck for medical claims and fill out a claim form to get expenses reimbursed from that account. When we pay a plumber or carpenter or electrician, we do not need insurance. Paying a physician in cash in the same manner could lessen the need for the physician to hire billing personnel, which could result in less expensive medical services. We would need to make it easy for patients to file a claim with their insurance company to get reimbursed for their out of pocket expense. As we look at changing the health care system, we need to ask serious questions such as whether a 70-year-old insurance system still makes the most sense today. The people who invest money in for-profit insurance companies will agree that it does. However, times have changed and our approach needs to change as well.

Texas Roadhouse holds fundraiser Texas Roadhouse in Seaford will donate 10% of the evening's proceeds on Wednesday, Sept. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. to Autism Delaware. Funds raised will support the new Milford office. Guests can meet professional fisherman Mike DelVisco in town to participate in the GO FISH for Autism Delaware tournament on Saturday, Sept. 19, and one lucky guest will be chosen to fish the tournament with Delvisco, as part of the festivities. Guests may register to win a fishing prize package valued at more than $200. To participate, each guest must bring in an invitation which they can download from the Autism Delaware website (, pick up at a participating Texas Roadhouse or mention Autism Delaware to the hostess as you're being seated that night. The GO FISH for Autism Delaware tournament will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at eight ponds throughout the state, including Trap Pond and Killen's Pond in Sussex County.

Melinda Huffman wins award Ms. Melinda Huffman, cancer screening nurse navigator for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Cancer Care Center and Delaware Health and Social Services, was awarded the Soroptimist International of Seaford 2009 "Making a Difference for Women" award. The "Making a Difference for Women" award acknowledges women who are working to improve the lives of women and girls through their personal or professional activities. Their efforts help to promote the issues that are important to the Soroptimist organization. Honorees are women who have worked in extraordinary ways to benefit women and girls. The program begins on the club level with Huffman receiving an engraved plaque and $1,000 towards her charitable organization of choice, The American Cancer Society. Award winners at the club level are also eligible for additional awards at other levels of the organization with the finalist receiving a $5,000 donation to the charitable organization of her choice.

Prostate screenings offered September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and the Cancer Care Center staff at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will provide prostate screenings on Friday, Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the first floor of the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center (located next to the hospital). There is a $5 screening fee and pre-registration is not required. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital encourages men over the age of 50 to take advantage of this service. Also men 40-years-old and at high risk of developing prostate cancer are also encouraged to participate. African-American men have a higher risk for developing prostate cancer, as are men who have a family history of the disease. For more information, call Nanticoke Cancer Care Center at 302-629-6611, ext. 3765 or 2378.

Parental consent for tanning beds Gov. Jack Markell has signed legislation that seeks to protect Delaware children from health risks associated with indoor tanning. The new law is known as "Michelle's Law" in honor of Michelle Rigney, a 22-year-old college student who died in 2008 of skin cancer. Michelle's mother, Sherrill Rigney, said she hopes the bill can save another family from the pain that her family has experienced. "Michelle dedicated her life to raising funds for research of melanoma," Mrs. Rigney said. "If someone had come to us and said this is what melanoma can do, we never would have let our daughter tan." Under the new law, adolescents under the age of 14 will not be able to use tanning salons, unless it's medically necessary, and teens between 14 and 18 will have to have their parents or guardians sign a consent slip clearing them to use tanning beds. Under the bill, parental consent will have to be renewed annually. That form would be required to include the health risks associated with indoor tanning. The Department of Health and Social Services will be responsible for enforcing the new law. Twenty-nine states, including Maryland and New Jersey, have already enacted laws either banning or restricting teen access to tanning salons.

duPont Hospital holds raffle Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children is holding a raffle for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The motorcycle, a Soft-Tail Fat Boy in Black Denim that includes a riding gear safety package, was donated by Concordville Nissan-Subaru. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100 and proceeds benefit the hospital. The drawing will take place in the hospital lobby on Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. For ticket information, contact Kate Handling at 302-651-4383 or

Depression Support Group There will be a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call Life Matters Counseling and Consulting at 302-465-6612.

'Go Fish' to benefit Autism Delaware "Go Fish," a bass fishing tournament to benefit Autism Delaware's southern location, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19 at eight ponds throughout southern Delaware, and will be followed by a celebration at Milford's Bicentennial Park. Anglers of all ages are welcome. Each team of two can register for $40 and will receive an information and fundraising packet. The general public is welcome to come to the celebration. Nominal fees will be charged to those not participating in the morning tournament. In addition to the tournament, benefit nights are scheduled at the Seaford (Sept. 16), Bear (Sept. 17), and Camden (Sept. 18) locations of top Go Fish sponsor Texas Roadhouse. Pro bass fisherman Mike DelVisco will appear at each event as well from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and will fish in the tournament Saturday. There are only 160 slots for fishing. To register visit or call 422-2255.

NMH holds diabetes classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a four-session diabetes educational program beginning Sept. 9 and continuing Sept. 16, 23, and 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the hospital. Registration for this class is required. The cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Our goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. To register and obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

A Spaghetti Dinner on Aug. 22 An all-you-can-eat Spaghetti Dinner will be held Saturday, Aug. 22, from 4 to 7 p.m. for $8 (includes salad, garlic bread, dessert and beverage.) Children under age 8 are free. The dinner will be held at Fraternal Order of Eagles, 107 Alexander Ave., Salisbury, to benefit 11 year old Kara Adams of Delmar in her battle with cancer. Donations may be made at any Farmers Bank of Bank of Willards to the "Kara Adams Fund." For more information contact: Carole Kauffman at 443-783-5112.

Stroke and Osteoporosis Screening Residents living in and around the Blades community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. The Blades Town Hall-Hardin Hall will host Life Line Screening on Aug. 31. The site is located at 20 W. Fourth St. in Blades. Appointments will begin at 9 a.m. Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for both men and women. Packages start at $139. All five screenings take 60-90 minutes to complete. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit our website at Pre-registration is required. Life Line Screening was established in 1993, and has since become the nation's leading provider of preventive screenings.