A collection of columns addressing the challenges shoppers face in California’s well being care panorama.
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Even earlier than the May 25 killing of George Floyd in police custody drew giant crowds of protesters into the streets of U.S. cities, folks had been starting to throng seashores, bars and eating places. Whether for financial, social or political causes, our dwelling confinement appears to be ending.
Or is it?
Public well being officers warn that a hasty reopening will generate a second wave of COVID-19 infections. That might delay a return to financial and social normalcy ― and even power us again beneath home arrest ― so long as there’s no dependable remedy or vaccine.
So whereas it might appear counterintuitive as folks lastly come out of the woodwork, now could be an opportune second to speak about doubling down on preparations all through the pandemic. Indeed, the dialog is as vital as ever, since social distancing has begun to fade, heightening the danger of spreading an infection.
“It’s good to be prepared,” says Dr. Alex Chen, chief medical officer of Health Net of California, which insures over three million of the state’s residents.
Nobody could be 100% secure from the coronavirus, and the extent of your preparations will rely in your anxiousness degree, character and assets.
Everyone ought to at the least comply with the usual recommendation, which in my dwelling ― and, I believe, in lots of others — calls for frequent reiteration: Wash your arms typically for at the least 20 seconds. Wipe down generally used surfaces in the home with disinfectants, particularly as folks come and go. The Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov) publishes a list of brokers that neutralize the COVID-19 virus.
And remember to have a face masks or different facial overlaying to put on once you exit.
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If you wish to keep away from frequent journeys outdoors the home, top off on meals and put together a equipment containing painkillers, fever reducers, allergy and chilly medicines and a thermometer (if you’ll find one). Oh, and cease worrying about bathroom paper; it has reappeared on many retailer cabinets.
Sangeeta Ahluwalia, a senior well being coverage researcher on the Santa Monica-based assume tank Rand Corp. and a mom of two younger women, retains an ample provide of meals, pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medicines available, so she could be “as homebound as possible.”
She and her husband have packed luggage in case certainly one of them must go to the hospital, and she or he has programmed instructions into the GPS methods of their automobiles.
“I definitely realize I’m not the average person when it comes to this,” Ahluwalia says.
Be Digitally Prepared
As we’ve discovered from the primary spherical of the epidemic, digital functionality can be important. The want for dependable Wi-Fi and videoconferencing know-how is a no brainer if you happen to work remotely. It’s vital for different causes, too.
“Everybody should know how to use Zoom or some other video app, so they can talk to their friends. Loneliness makes any of us feel anxious or sad,” says Dr. Bob Kocher, a senior fellow on the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC and a associate specializing in well being care data know-how at Venrock, a enterprise capital agency in Palo Alto, California.
Such know-how additionally turns out to be useful for conversations together with your physician. (If you don’t have an everyday physician, attempt to discover one.) During the pandemic, many physicians and hospitals are strongly encouraging, and in some instances insisting on, digital fairly than face-to-face visits — at the least till they diagnose an issue requiring direct bodily remedy.
Most insurers are waiving their enrollees’ out-of-pocket prices for such telehealth visits if they’re associated to diagnosing COVID-19, and lots of well being plans are waiving price sharing for all telehealth visits — although some sufferers are still getting billed for them.
Call your well being plan and ask about its coverage on paying for telehealth. Many well being plans contract with a telehealth firm corresponding to Teladoc, Doctor on Demand or MD Live. Keep the contact quantity or app useful.
With sufficient data, a physician can use a digital session to prescribe medicines, recommend methods to resolve your signs with out an in-person appointment or decide if you have to are available in.
If you’re having a digital go to fairly than going to the physician’s workplace, your doctor would possibly recognize readings from one of many wearable or different internet-connected gadgets that observe very important indicators corresponding to coronary heart price, blood stress and blood sugar.
“People know if they are starting to feel bad. The benefit of the wearable technology is you have real data you can describe to your doctor,” says Steve Koenig, vp of market analysis for the Consumer Technology Association in Arlington, Virginia.
But purchaser (and physician) beware: Accuracy varies among the many totally different applied sciences. You can analysis them at a number of web sites, together with Tom’s Guide (www.tomsguide.com), Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org) and The Wirecutter (www.wirecutter.com).
Many physicians suggest that folks at excessive threat of getting severely in poor health from COVID-19 buy a pulse oximeter, if they’ll afford it. Pulse oximeters are small digital gadgets that usually clip onto a finger to measure your blood oxygen and your coronary heart price. They have been in excessive demand and brief provide because the discovery that oxygen ranges in some COVID-19 sufferers drop to dangerously low levels earlier than they start to really feel in poor health.
The price of those devices ranges from beneath $50 to over $1,000, however as with the apps and wearables, their accuracy may vary widely.
You can learn opinions of pulse oximeters and order one on-line, however it’ll possible take greater than a month to reach.
“I think it’s better to order it and wait until it comes, because we are going to be in this for the long haul,” says Dr. David Eisenman, a professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and the Fielding School of Public Health.
Another technological device you would possibly take into account is without doubt one of the so-called contact tracing apps, with names corresponding to Care19, CovidSafe, Covid Watch and NOVID. Downloaded to smartphones, they file your actions over a number of days and warn you if you happen to’ve been in proximity to somebody who’s contaminated with or has been uncovered to the virus — however provided that that particular person additionally has downloaded the app and reviews truthfully.
As extra folks use such apps and share their data, the instruments will change into simpler, public well being specialists say. But to this point, they’ve been poorly received in the United States — due largely to privateness considerations. Google and Apple, which launched an app final month, cited privateness of their resolution to withhold key data from public well being officers who’re making an attempt to trace the illness.
Still, some well being professionals say the mere existence of those apps is an efficient begin.
“Even a small number of people doing this will be helpful,” says Kocher. “It will help contact tracers from the county or elsewhere if people they contact have downloaded one of these apps.”
Bernard J. Wolfson: firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com, @bjwolfson