Around 795,000 Americans have a stroke each year. On average, that’s about one person every forty seconds.
According to the U.S. census, 27.5 million people did not have insurance in 2018.
To add insult to injury, CBS News reported in August of 2020 that six million Americans lost employer-sponsored insurance due to the pandemic. That number doubles to twelve million if you include spouses and children.
Neither of these reports takes into account individuals who were or are considered underinsured which means that deductibles or health care costs are too high relative to income.
Stroke survivors are too often prematurely discharged from therapy due to a lack of insurance reimbursement or the inability to afford it. They also don’t often get the education they need to confidently return home. I’ve seen this happen as a therapist and as a family member of someone who’s had a stroke.
Then & Now
Just twenty or so years ago, survivors were able to rehab in a hospital for months at a time. I’m not saying everything was perfect back then, but survivors had much more support. They weren’t rushed through therapy to get “functional enough to go home.”
Now insurance tries to get survivors out ASAP. It can be a fight to get more therapy visits.
Early discharge usually happens because insurance doesn’t want to continue payments and deems the survivor “good enough.”
But who is the insurance company to tell a survivor when they’re “good enough?” And is “good enough” where we want to set the bar?
Let me pull aside the curtain from the therapy perspective. Even just twenty or thirty years ago, therapists had time to do their paperwork during the workday. They had the time to really thoughtfully consider their treatment interventions. They had time to build meaningful therapeutic relationships with their clients.
Now, in some therapy settings, therapists can barely take bathroom breaks when they need to go. Therapy managers breathe down their necks, asking why they didn’t hit their 95% productivity goal. They have to, illegally, do paperwork off the clock because they wouldn’t otherwise meet those productivity demands.
I’ve experienced all of these things firsthand.
The pressure of the healthcare system on therapists, survivors, and care partners is stifling.
There Has To Be a Better Way
Indeed, I think there is.
Those of us in the U.S. know that insurance will only carry us a short way.
If insurance won’t save us, then we have to save ourselves.
Therapists have to start thinking outside of the box. We not only have to maximize treatment in traditional therapy, but we also have to problem-solve ways to provide holistic resources to survivors outside of insurance.
The need for ongoing resources after discharge from traditional therapy has never been greater. Survivors are going home earlier and with less support than ever.
This has been a revelation on my end and has caused me to pivot my business. I’m exploring ways to offer courses, groups, and education at a low-cost that circumvents the traditional insurance model.
I have an e-book launching soon and will start developing courses for survivors and their care partners shortly after.
I’m trying to fill the cracks in the system that survivors often fall through.
I’d love to hear from you so I can develop exactly the kind of resources and content you need. If you don’t mind sharing topics important to you, send me an email. My goal is to make it easier for you to continue your stroke recovery journey at home, with or without insurance.