Diagnosing Health Care: A North Carolina Voices Series

Diagnosing Health Care
Credit WUNC

North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care aired Thursday October 4th through Tuesday October 16th, 2007 on Morning Edition, The State of Things, and The Story.  The series explored the connections between health, and health care, in North Carolina.

North Carolina is not healthy. The state is ranked 36th in the nation in terms of health.  One in four North Carolinians is obese, up from 13 percent in 1990, making obesity not just a personal health concern, but a public health epidemic.  Diabetes is on the rise, particularly in rural areas

There are wide disparities in lifespan: A white girl born in North Carolina can expect to live until she is nearly 80 years old, but a black boy, statistically, will only make it to 68 - and he is likely to be sick for 15 years of his life.   More than 16 percent of North Carolinians have no health insurance,  and those who do not have insurance tend to be sicker than those who do.  In addition to the physical and emotional toll, unhealthy lifestyles are costing North Carolina an estimated $24 billion a year.

Why is North Carolina so unhealthy?  What is being done about it? And what are the links between health, and the health care system?

  • What does it mean to be healthy?
  • Who is healthy, who is unhealthy, and why?  
  • What social and environmental factors affect health status, and what role does access to health care play in making people healthy?
  • Does access to health care matter more for some groups of people than others? 
  • Are the people who need health care most getting the help they need?  And does the current health care system actually promote good health?  Why, or why not?

What Do You Think?
You can send an email to ncvoices@wunc.org or leave a comment about the series at 1-877-3VOICES (1-877-386-4237).  Please tell us your name and how to pronounce it, in case we read your comments on the air. And please provide a daytime phone number so we can call you back if we have questions.

Support for "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care" comes from Dominion, Duke University Health System, GlaxoSmithKline, the North Carolina Humanities Council, the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation, the Julian Price Family Foundation, the John Rex Endowment and "The Healthy Weight Initiative," and UNC Health Care.  Support also comes from the listeners of North Carolina Public Radio-WUNC.


11:45 am
Tue October 9, 2007

NC Voices: Choosing a Doctor

When Lindsay Foster Thomas landed her job as a producer for WUNC’s midday program "The State of Things," she moved from New York City to Durham with a long "to-do" list.   After finding a place to live, mapping her route to work, and checking out the best places to eat, she focused on choosing her doctors.  As part of our series "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care," she explains her choices.

More information:

North Carolina Institute of Medicine report

8:57 am
Mon October 8, 2007

NC Voices: Community Docs

In the early nineteen sixties, two young doctors from Tufts University Medical School near Boston spent a summer treating the Mississippi freedom riders. The struggle for civil rights opened the doctors’ eyes to how much minorities and the poor lacked access to health care. So they established two community health centers - one in rural Mississippi, the other in inner-city Boston. Today, those clinics- and about a thousand more across the country- provide a safety net of care to everyone who comes through the door, regardless of their ability to pay. There are one-hundred-and-six community health centers in North Carolina. Jessica Jones spent a few days at one: the Siler City Community Health Center, about an hour west of Raleigh. She reports for our series "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care."

Read more
8:54 am
Mon October 8, 2007

NC Voices: Community Specialists - Project Access

If you don’t have health insurance, there are places you can go to get health care. Community clinics, local health departments, state funded health centers … they often provide low-cost or even free care. But they mostly focus on the basics. What if you have a heart problem and need to see a cardiologist? Or you need an orthopedic surgeon or an endocrinologist? These kinds of specialists are expensive, and there is typically no low-cost option for people who don’t have insurance. Ten years ago, doctors in Buncombe County wanted to do something about that. And the program they created, Project Access, is now a model for other programs nationwide. Dave DeWitt reports for our series "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care."

9:21 am
Fri October 5, 2007

NC Voices: Health Literacy

There are a lot of ways to get health information… from the doctor, the Internet, books, patient handouts, friends and family. But how do you know what information is best for you? Wading through and understanding it, contradictions and all, is a function of health literacy - the ability to understand and follow the doctor’s advice. Without that, even patients with good medical insurance can lose out.  Rose Hoban reports for our series "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care."

Read more
9:01 am
Fri October 5, 2007

NC Voices: Skipping Health Insurance

The United States is the only major industrialized nation that does not provide healthcare for everyone.  47 million Americans have no insurance to help pay for trips to the doctor, medicine, or emergency surgery.  People can purchase health insurance on their own, but it's usually expensive, and a lot of people who are uninsured say they can't afford it.  So they hope they don't get sick; seek charity or low cost care when they do; and even make big life decisions based on their insurance needs.  Karen Michel reports for our series "North Carolina Voices:  Diagnosing Health Care."

9:18 am
Thu October 4, 2007

NC Voices: Diagnosing Health Care

Ask just about anyone in the health care debate what the biggest problem is, and you’ll hear the same two words – the uninsured. One out of six North Carolinians has no health insurance- that’s more than 1.4 million people. And they’re putting a strain on the entire healthcare system. Some states are taking bold steps to reform the insurance system. But North Carolina is not among them. We asked our State Capitol Reporter Laura Leslie to find out why for our series "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care."