On Labor Day we asked doctors and patients to send us anecdotes that illustrate the importance of cost-awareness in medicine. What was in it for them? A chance to shine a national spotlight on a big problem: doctors and patients have to make decisions in a vacuum, without any information on how those decisions impact what patients pay for care. Also in it for them was a chance to win one of two $1000 prizes.
The launch of the contest was covered in newspapers, radio, TV and dozens of blogs.
Two months later we received 115 submissions from all over the country - New York to California, Texas to North Dakota, Alaska to Oklahoma. According to essay contest judge Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and staff writer at the New Yorker, "These [stories] are powerful just for the sheer volume of unrecognized misery alone."
There were many outstanding submissions, which we ultimately narrowed down to six finalists - three clinicians and three patients.
Dr. Steven Sanders: a primary care doctor from Tulsa, Oklahoma
CNM Tarcia Edmunds-Jehu: a nurse midwife from Boston, Massachusetts
Dr. Grayson Wheatley: a cardiovascular surgeon from Phoenix, Arizona
Jessa Hartford: an unemployed mother from Sacramento, California
Brad Wright: a graduate student from Durham, North Carolina
Kelly Cheramy: the wife of a man with a chronic illness from McFarland, Wisconsin
Leading up to the $1000 prize winner announcement on December 15, we will publish each of their stories separately for you to read on our blog. Starting after January 1st, we will also publish 52 of the additional outstanding stories we received - there will be a new story here every week until 2012.
In the mean time, on behalf of the Costs of Care team, I would like to thank everyone who sent us their stories, our esteemed judges, and our contest sponsors. Stay tuned!