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Caring for Our Uninsured Patients
The Future of Insurance and Oncologic Care
In this depressed economic environment, there is no doubt that the number of uninsured and underinsured patients may increase. President Obama has made dramatic changes to our healthcare system in the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and the implications of this legislation are still premature. The hope is that there will be more insurance coverage for those Americans who really need it to get the care that they deserve. In addition to providing insurance coverage to a wider population, it will demand that our healthcare system become more evidence-based, efficient, and cost-effective. As this legislation unfolds, there will be a need to balance the financial sustainability of our healthcare system with the growing needs of our patients in the clinic.As oncologists in training, we rigorously study treatment guidelines and strive to be evidence-based physicians who offer the highest standard of care. In today’s healthcare environment, it will be important to also be aware of the resources available to help navigate the system to actually deliver this therapy to our patients. When we graduate fellowship, there will be many opportunities to work in different environments, from private practice to academic centers, which may offer a range of resources to help you provide the care you have trained for. In my opinion, that is one of the many factors to consider as we take the next step to becoming an attending physician.
Sheetal M. Kircher, MD, is currently finishing her oncology fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL.