Conversations on Health: How We Get There - with Stephani Shelton

Conversations On Health: How We Get There - with Stephani Shelton is a podcast series about health care, health care systems and the connections we need to make them better. Each podcast will explore a different aspect of health or health care. Or a different country’s health care system as it compares to ours in the US. As a veteran reporter - I want to know why so many Americans still don’t have access to the comprehensive health care so normal in other advanced countries? How are health systems dealing with higher costs and changing demographics? And if, after the disastrous response to COVID 19, the US and other nations are now prepared for another major public health crisis.

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Episodes

7 days ago

How many times have we all asked – when will they find a cure for cancer? Of course there is no one cure any more than there is just one type of cancer. Each one requires its own research pathway. But there have been great strides in recent years. Some cancers which used to be a death sentence can now be basically cured or turned into treatable, chronic illnesses.
My guest for this episode is Theodore Lawrence, MD, PhD. He’s a Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Michigan and has an active oncology medical practice. He’s also researching better treatment outcomes for gastrointestinal and central nervous system cancer.  His research continues to be supported by the National Cancer Institute.
I’ve known Ted for many years – since he was still a medical student, recently married to my second cousin. He’s always been really excited about his work. And he has that rare ability to explain really complicated concepts in a way we can all clearly understand.  
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube
 

Tuesday Apr 16, 2024

This may surprise you with all the medical advances we’ve made in the last decade --but heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the US. As it has been since 1921. A recent poll conducted for the American Heart Association found 51 percent of respondents had no idea! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  – one person dies every 33 seconds in the US from cardiovascular disease. And this may also surprise you. The CDC says in 2019 - the last year it lists - heart disease cost the US about 2 hundred and 40 billion dollars. Think about the inflation you’ve experienced in the last few years and you can imagine how big that number will be for all of 2024. One reason for the growing cost of heart disease is that much of what causes it is treatable now. And as the huge boomer cohort moves into the senior class – older people with heart disease are living longer. So I thought it would be interesting to talk to a heart specialist I know - who would likely have been doing something else just 30 or 40 years ago. Dr. Mohammadali Habibi is an electrophysiologist with the highly rated Valley Health System and Valley Hospital in New Jersey. Valley’s state of the art, new hospital just opened. Valley is also partnered with the country’s top ranked heart hospital – The  Cleveland Clinic.
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube
 

Tuesday Mar 19, 2024

Part 2:  I think we all learned a lot in Episode 18 about Sweden's pioneering universal health care system. Most countries except for the U-S have some version of this – health care that’s paid for by taxes, controlled by the government and essentially free at the point of use. But health care costs are skyrocketing everywhere. So now we're going to talk about how AI and other data-driven innovations may help Sweden - and health care systems in general - cope with the demographic changes and expensive medical breakthroughs already straining budgets. This is the second half of my discussion with Catharina Barkman of Sweden’s Forum for Health Policy It's a non-profit, independent think tank aiming to boost innovation and development in the health care system. Catharina has also held several top positions within the system itself in the region of Stockholm – Sweden’s capital.
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube

Tuesday Feb 20, 2024

Part 1:  Most of us are familiar with the idea of universal health care. Ideally – tax-paid, “free” health care for all. We know that in the US we don’t have it – while almost all other countries do – in some form. One of the first countries to adopt universal health care was Sweden – in the early 1950s. But how - exactly - does such a system work? And can it keep afloat as health costs keep rising?  I ask Catharina Barkman who heads Sweden's  Forum for Health Policy - a non-profit, independent think tank aiming to boost innovation and development in the health care system. Catharina has also held several top positions within the system itself in the region of Stockholm – Sweden’s capital. I think you’ll learn a lot about how universal health care works from our conversation – not only in Sweden but also in other countries. And you may be surprised – as I was – to see that even here in the US – we have some aspects of health care for all. 
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube.

Wednesday Jan 17, 2024

We start the 2024 season by celebrating the podcast's first year and a half. A fast review of some of the widely varied subjects and guests. Some are experts on health care systems. Others just people trying to navigate the way the privately-driven US system works. Or for many – doesn’t work.  Maybe you’ll find one or two conversations you missed?

Tuesday Dec 19, 2023

I’m sure you’ve heard or read that Americans have better access to the newer, often life-saving drugs than people in other countries. But access and being able to pay for the drugs are two different matters. As anyone knows who has been to a pharmacist window lately – these great new drugs are really expensive. And in the United States – unlike other countries - they're often not covered or poorly covered by insurance. Sadly in this rich country - some people actually have to chose between the drugs which control their disease – and feeding their kids. Or even themselves. Like so much else in health care – it’s complicated. Joining me is Alan Weil, Editor-in-Chief of Health Affairs since 2014 and the podcast host of “A Health Podyssey” – where he talks with leading researchers shaping the big ideas in health policy.
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube.

Tuesday Nov 21, 2023

Part 2: Open enrollment for 2024 Medicare supplementary plans continues into December - while those under 65 who don’t have employer health insurance can look for Obamacare plans on state marketplaces until mid January. In Episode 14 we talked mainly about how those Obamacare plans work. Now we’re focusing more on Medicare. More on the difference between Medicare Advantage and purely supplementary plans. And toward the end – we do some “blue skying” about the future of Medicare and health care in general. And how to pay for it. Lots of useful info in the rest of my discussion with Dr. Steven D. Culler, Associate Professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, and Affiliated Associate Professor at the Goizueta School of Business – at Emory University in Atlanta.
Read his just published, collaborative paper on Medicare spending here.
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube.

Tuesday Oct 17, 2023

Starting in mid October and ending January 15th, millions of eligible Americans who don’t get health insurance through their jobs or Medicaid can use what is known as the Open Enrollment Period to sign up for or change various insurance plans.  Medicare recipients – mostly 65 or older - have 6 weeks ending on December 7th this year to choose supplemental insurance or Advantage plans.  And those who have or want what most of us call “Obamacare” – health insurance created under the Affordable Care Act – can change or enroll from November 1st.  That’s the easy part. The rest – like virtually everything about health care in the US – is really complicated. So I’m asking an expert from Atlanta’s Emory University – Dr. Steve D. Culler - to explain it all. You may not believe all the hidden pitfalls he points out.
Read his just published, collaborative paper on Medicare spending here.
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube.
 

Monday Sep 18, 2023

Talking about health care systems doesn’t have much meaning unless you know how they actually affect people. My friend Gina Mžourek is an American from New Jersey. She currently lives in Germany with her Czech husband.  But over the past 24 years she’s also lived in the Czech Republic, France and of course – the US.  Gina has a chronic illness so she’s very good at comparing the health care systems. They’re all state run except of course – ours here in the US. We talked on Zoom this summer – me in Prague, Gina in her small German town - and I think you’ll find her insights very helpful.  FYI – Zoom’s recording has some lag.
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube.

Tuesday Aug 15, 2023

Imagine what it’s like to know that if you get sick or need a knee replacement or just grow old – you’ll never have to worry about paying for your medical care? It’s something few Americans can even imagine. But something that is simply normal for most Europeans. So last month when my husband and I were in Prague – I had a conversation with a Czech friend who’s a public school English teacher and translator. She pays the usual high taxes into the state-run health care system. And then never gives the cost of her medical future another thought. 
Note: all episodes are also available in video form on YouTube.

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Conversations on Health: How We Get There

How do ordinary people navigate the complexity of what passes for the US health care “system”?  Through conversations with ordinary people and health professionals, this podcast will try to make some of the connections for you – delving into the mix of private insurers, doctor groups, regional hospital systems, Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Health Administration and supposedly, a federal and state public health system- which together are considered the US health “system”. I hope you’ll enjoy the podcasts which will be quite wide-ranging. Look for new ones on the 3rd Tuesday of each month unless otherwise announced, And please, DO subscribe so you won’t miss any. Thank you so much!

The podcast is available as a video on YouTube

 

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