Last week in this column we discussed how community programs, physicians and medical schools, and pharmaceutical companies can help reduce healthcare disparities. This week we look at three other players who can contribute to the effort.
Conclusion of a three-part column
The Affordable Care Act is adding millions of new healthcare consumers to the market but adds no new doctors to serve them. This limitation is compounded by insurance plans now restricting which doctors can see the patients the insurance plans cover by either refusing to add the doctors to their coverage or dropping doctors they were already covering. By limiting their patients’ access to physicians, the health plans contend they save money, but in doing so, they restrict everyone from choosing their own doctor and ultimately perpetuate the health disparities. Continue Reading →
By Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD
Last week in this column we discussed how individuals and their families can help reduce healthcare disparities by developing and executing Personal Health Plans (PHPs). This week we look at other players who can contribute to this effort
For individuals without immediate family willing to participate, the community can help. Local community centers and other organizations like the YMCA and YWCA and even religious organizations and churches have done a great job in the past, and they should continue to develop and refine support programs to assist those in need to follow their PHPs. These organizations can also assist in healthcare access by organizing transportation to eliminate barriers to getting to medical appointments. For organizations with available resources, they can also offer supportive nutritional and fitness programs. Organizations that have made similar commitments are already reaping dividends for their members and the community at-large. Continue Reading →
Last week in this column we defined health disparities. Merriam-Webster defines disparity as “the state of being different.”
The term “health disparities” refers to several conditions. It almost always refers to differences in groups relating to socioeconomic status, race and/or gender. It can mean differences in the presence of certain diseases within groups. It can mean the outcomes of diseases treated in these groups. It can mean the quality of health care and access to healthcare services that exist within these groups. Disparities can also be caused by a lack of efficiency within the healthcare system. As a result of the lack of efficiency, some studies have speculated (Joint Center for Political and Economic studies) that approximately $50 billion are spent wastefully every year in the U.S. By reducing or eliminating health disparities, there could be a significant savings to the healthcare system accompanied by an overall increased quality of health care. Several factors contribute to health disparities amongst socioeconomic, racial, gender, and ethnic groups. These factors include poor access to care, low quality of care, community markers (such as poverty and violence), and social habits. Continue Reading →
Most skin diseases occur in people of all nationalities, regardless of their skin color. Certain problems encountered in the skin are more common in people with different hues of skin, and sometimes a disorder seems more prominent because it affects skin color. This week continues our review of these disorders and their treatment.
Throughout evolution, our skin has become quite skillful at repairing any sites of injury or damage. Once the integrity of the skin barrier has been interrupted, invaders such as bacteria, fungus, and virus can penetrate the skin and important
bodily fluids can leak out. Continue Reading →
Most skin diseases occur in people of all nationalities, regardless of their skin color. Certain problems encountered in the skin are more common in people with different hues of skin, and sometimes a disorder seems more prominent because it affects skin color.
Variations in skin color
Skin color is determined by cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are specialized cells within the skin that produce a pigment known as melanin. Melanin is produced and stored within special structures, known as melanosomes, contained in the melanocytes. Continue Reading →
By Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD
Dr. Crutchfield, my brother tells me his doctor told him that he should not drink grapefruit juice while on a new cholesterol medication. Why is that?
Grapefruit juice is a natural, delicious, nutritious drink that has positive health benefits. Some estimates say that as many as 20 percent of all Americans consume grapefruit juice on a regular basis. Scientists discovered several years ago (quite by accident) that grapefruit juice binds to and blocks a certain enzyme in the gastrointestinal tract where medicines are absorbed. Continue Reading →
Dear Doctor: My skin is red and itchy. How do I know if I am having an allergic skin reaction?
An allergic skin reaction is a common skin rash that occurs when your skin comes into contact with a substance you have an allergy to. It is often called “allergic contact skin dermatitis.” There are other types of allergies, namely those from things you eat (peanuts, for example) or breathe in (pollen and seasonal allergies). This article will only talk about the rash one gets from substances that touch or “contact” the skin. The most common natural allergic contact dermatitis is from a plant oil found in the leaves of the poison ivy plant.
Why should I care about an allergic skin reaction? Continue Reading →
Early care can reduce risk of developing disabling foot problem
By Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD
Dear Doctor: My aunt told me she has a painful bunion. What is that?
Abunion is large bump that forms at the base of the big toe where the bone of the big toe attaches to the bones of the foot. When this happens, the big toe usually bends inwards, sometimes at a very extreme angle. The bone of the foot, called the metatarsal, gets pushed outwards forming the bump, called a bunion. Continue Reading →
Dark skin is not immunity, so be aware of the risks
We’ve just completed February, African American History Month. Among much else, it can serve as a fitting reminder about a myth that has persisted for too long: African Americans (and those with darker skin tones) can’t get skin cancer. In fact, among the African American population, melanoma — the most serious kind of skin cancer — is much more deadly than among Caucasians. In fact, it does not matter what color your skin is: Everyone is prone to developing skin cancer. You may have heard that naturally dark-skinned people have less chance of getting skin cancer, and that is true. Continue Reading →
Approximately 75,000 people die every year from bladder cancer in the United States. Although bladder cancer can occur at any time, it most commonly occurs after age 70. It is in the top five cancers for men and in the top 10 cancers for women. The good news is that if detected early, it can be treated quite effectively. The bad news is that although treated, it can recur. Continue Reading →