It’s health care enrollment season, the time when people who are actually insured decide which plan suits them best. And like phone contracts, the decision could be a source of happiness or anguish for the next year. It’s also cold and flu season, so our healthiest reporter, Joe Anuta, sat down with Lesly Kernisant, chairman of Preferred Health Partners, to discuss health care options, flu shots, and some of the unique challenges facing the health of Brooklyn.
Q: Doctor, give it to me straight. How healthy is the borough?
A: Brooklyn is the county with the second-highest prevalence of chronic disorders in America.
Q: Wow. That’s not healthy at all. Why?
A: Well, Brooklyn is very diverse. We have a fairly large population of minorities who are in a low socio-economic status, which puts them at higher risk for hypertension, diabetes, and infectious diseases such as HIV. We have a huge health care disparity.
Q: But how does income correlate to diabetes, for example?
A: In addition to cost, in many cases there is very little access to medical care, and also a lack of certain systems like public transportation. Health care may also be relegated to the end of a long list of concerns.
Q: So isn’t Obama’s health care plan going to change some of that?
A: My hope is that health care will become more affordable. In 2014, health insurance will become like car insurance — everyone will have to have it. So patients can see physicians when they need to, instead of using home remedies and allowing their illness to grow into something more serious and costly.
Q: Winter is around the corner, the economy is terrible, and we hate being sick. Do you have any advice for Brooklynites to stay healthy?
A: Preventative care is important. Get your flu shot. There are many state-sponsored programs, so residents have access to the shots, bad economy-or-not. Our clinic also offers mammograms for women, prostrate screenings for men, and diabetes testing.
Preferred Health Partners [447 Atlantic Ave. at Nevins Street in Downtown, (718) 858-6300]. Visit www.brooklyndocs.com for info.