Letter to Editor | Eggs May Be Cheaper in the Country, But Not Healthcare

— from Tom Eversole —

The Public Hospital District won’t build a hospital on Orcas. Rather, it will support and stabilize local practices to provide ongoing access to primary, urgent, and after-hours medical care.

Sustaining local healthcare access begs the question: Why is it harder for a medical practice (doctor’s office) to survive financially in rural communities than in cities? Many factors contribute, but three stand out: rural jobs, rural populations, and practice requirements that disadvantage rural medical business. See: files.cfra.org/pdf/Ten-Rural-Issues-for-Health-Care-Reform.pdf

Rural populations are poorer, older and sicker than urban ones. Rural employees are more likely self-employed or working for small businesses that don’t provide insurance. They are 70% more likely to be uninsured or underinsured than urban workers. This is especially true in a seasonal, tourism, and service-related economy like ours.

Young workers (including doctors) leave rural communities for higher paying urban jobs with benefits. Remaining rural residents have a higher prevalence of chronic diseases (arthritis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes) and injuries. They have less access to health promotion (diet and exercise). There is a greater reliance on Medicaid and Medicare, which do not reimburse private practices the full cost billed. Uninsured patients can seldom pay full cost of medical care out of pocket.

The reality is that rural healthcare providers serve a less healthy, higher risk population, with less financial security and less employer-sponsored medical insurance than their urban and suburban counterparts. Lacking a well insured population, Orcas medical practices have depended upon local charity, which is declining.

Like all businesses, doctors’ offices must recover the cost of providing services to break even. Medical practice today requires expensive information technology (electronic health records), increased medical technology and diagnostics for reimbursement plus increased administrative staffing for quality assurance, documentation, and collection. Urban practices with greater numbers of patients can better afford to hire the necessary support staff and spread employee costs across many providers.

For these reasons, to create financially sustainable and predictable healthcare here on Orcas for generations to come, please vote “yes” for the public hospital district.

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Letter to Editor | Eggs May Be Cheaper in the Country, But Not Healthcare — 4 Comments

  1. This is absolutely vital for continued primary health care for the Orcas community. I urge all to vote yes for a district and end what will be a nightmare of having to go off island for basic medical care. That way no medical practice will be forced to close. Orcas Family Health center just completed a fund drive that will allow them to operate for the next fiscal year

  2. Spot on, Tom! I practiced for 42 years (as a CRNA), and worked in rural hospitals in Maine, the Carolinas, Florida, Virginia..etc.
    Wherever the location, the circumstances remain the same. The financial struggles of dedicated medical practitioners (though some people still believe doctors are rich) were painful…trying to maintain an office, staff, and have an income enough to support a family—and not in the richest style!–took long hours and a dedicated heart. ALL of the hospitals and ALL of the practitioners in the rural areas I worked received some help from the government or some form of HD.
    We need to do this. Voting for this measure is imperative, not only to the health of each and every individual resident and visitor, but to the health of Orcas Island itself.
    Thank you, and the members of the coalition, for your selfless work and for making sure we all understand the situation.

  3. It is said a rising tide floats all boats;
    Unless you’re bailing hard to begin with.
    Changing captains works
    the new one starts with repairs.

    We have not had a lack of hard working professionals.
    But we also know the old sea shanty*..

    What ARE we buying?
    Let’s get that thing in dry dock and have a plan
    that goes beyond discussing a bottom line
    when we haven’t discussed the real “water line.”
    From experience.

    *The weather started getting rough,
    The tiny ship was tossed,
    If not for the courage of the fearless crew
    The Minnow would be lost,

    …the Minnow would be lost.

    No phone!
    . no lights!
    .. no motor car!

    So join us here each week my friend,
    You’re sure to get a smile..

    the drama continues
    now back to our sponsors..

  4. Who is “CFRA.ORG?”
    Center for Rural Affairs
    “We are unapologetically rural. We stand up for the small family farmer and rancher, new business owner, and rural communities.

    For more than 40 years, we’ve been a leading force engaging people to build a better rural future. We live this work. Welcome to our rural revolution.

    Join our newsletter list to learn about what’s happening in rural America and at the Center!
    We have offices in three main locations: Lyons, Nebraska, at 145 Main St., PO Box 136; Nevada, Iowa, at 1400 Fawcett Parkway, Suite D2; and Hartington, Nebraska, at 106 N. Broadway, PO Box 736; as well as in-home offices throughout Nebraska.”

    A long time ago, Orcas was this kind of rural community. Sortof.
    Now we are primarily vacationers, retirees, service industry and ancillary businesses.

    Eggs are expensive on Orcas, regardless where you buy them. And the farmers are gone for the most part, and with them their ethic. Some common inappropriate business practices on Orcas would have you run out of town on a rail, in rural Nebraska. It has cost us .. in our healthcare. “Voting YES” must be a vote for better business practices .. or else “Voting NO” cannot be called a vote against funding healthcare but a vote for awaiting a better, more honest choice.

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