American Health Care

I regret not being able to visit with you more often, but between playing catch up from our recent Paris celebration and lack of access to this site from my workplace, there are not enough hours in the day. For those of you following my prior entries, the newlyweds are doing well, and have chosen the Grand Canyon as the site of their post nuptial trip. They are visiting us in California now, but depart tomorrow morning for their scenic adventure before eventually heading back to their home in the City of Lights. 
 
People say you should write about what you know. The following is a topic that fits that bill.
 
 

American Health Care – A System in Crisis

 

Anyone who has dealt with the healthcare system of our country realizes we are faced with a crisis.  The problem has been a long time in making, and is now being accelerated by a number of factors.  The aging of the baby boomers will continue to put an increasing burden on the system.  The increased numbers of uninsured patients for whom doctors and hospitals have to provide uncompensated care is placing an increasing financial burden on the providers.  The availability of new drugs and technologies, while providing a boon to the recipients, also significantly increase both the demand for, as well as the cost of health care.

 

Reform of our tort system remains quagmired in attorney-dominated legislatures beholding to the Trial Lawyers Association.  Increasingly rising expectations for perfect results combined with jackpot payouts continue to fuel new litigation.  The rising dominance of HMOs and a frequent alteration of employer contracts continue to shuffle patients between doctors, destroying the trust that comes from long established relationships.  Fueled by restrictive bureaucratic hoops designed to save insurance companies money, along with a sensationalist press, patients are coming to doctors’ offices already angry and expecting bad treatment even before being seen.  The threat of malpractice leads to the practice of defensive medicine, which in turn is harmful both to the patient as well as the system.  Each day, more and more doctors are choosing either early retirement or a change of careers.  This trend is leading to both the critical shortage of physicians in some areas as well as potentially negatively affecting those who are considering entering the field.

 

Doctors and hospitals that have attempted to police their own ranks have been stymied by charges of harassment, discrimination, and restraint of trade.  The time and exorbitant cost burdens to defend against these charges have made the system of self-policing dysfunctional.  External agencies such as state boards are also limited in their effectiveness.  There needs to be better mechanisms than suspension or revocation of a physician’s license as tools to ensure better quality care.

 

Morality and common sense are not items that can be legislated.  We cannot expect to supplement the healthcare manpower shortage by importing doctors and nurses from countries that have different cultural and ethical values from ours without resulting problems.  We cannot ignore the decline of honesty and ethical behavior in our own culture and schools without expecting a similar decline among the graduates we produce.  We need to take responsibility for our own abuses of our bodies with tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and food.  We also have to accept the consequences of ignoring the medical advice we have received.

 

The profits of public utilities are regulated, as we have no choice regarding the use of water, electricity or telephone. The companies that are involved in our healthcare from the pharmaceutical to the insurance industry may require similar controls.

 

Ultimately, what any patient wants, and has a right to expect, is access to a physician who is well trained, and who cares about their well being.  In addition to soliciting your ideas and comments regarding this topic, over the next few weeks I will be offering you my own observations and thoughts about the impediments that have been placed on the doctor-patient relationship, and what we can do to improve this relationship which we all at some time will need.

 

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15 Responses to American Health Care

  1. LORI says:

    Hello Jorge!
     
    Yes, I have 3 GB of bandwidgth left. I normally get about 100-125 hits a day… and I use about 1 GB of space a day too… and so I will not have any left for one or two maybe 3 days (it all depends on how many people listen). I don\’t know how many times a day and for how many people that 1GB of air time used applies to though. So if that\’s 3 people listening a lot of 100 people listening a little I don\’t know. I do know that this is the first time I have ever encountered this. LOL. And thank you for wishing me good fortune! I have had worse to deal with in my past. 😦 This is nothing I know. Which is why no one gets music for 3 days. A VICIOUS CIRCLE!
     
    I am excited to read that your newlyweds have visited! How cool! And the Grand Canyon holds fond memories for me as well! I bet they are so ecstatic with life. What a blessing they have been fortunate to have found each other like that. They sound like they have it all together so nicely.
     
    Now, the depressing subject matter… I do not trust the doctors anymore. They give mediocre service and take the conservative approach to everything these days. I remember when I was young, the doctors would make house visits and give you a big shot of something and the next day you were fine. You don\’t get shots of antibiotics anymore… There was NO HMO or crooked people in politics who run it all and make all the rules. They (the doctors) are overworked and seem rushed and impersonal whenevever I\’ve seen one in the last 10 years. It makes me sick! So sick I need a doctor now, but am scared to go to one, and I can\’t afford one anyway!
     
    Great post Jorge! It\’s a subject matter that needs addressing and some serious help.
     
    I hope you have a wonderful week ahead! I wish I were going to the Grand Canyon tomorrow/today!
     
    See you, Love, Lori  
     
     
     
     

  2. Jungle Mama says:

    I know all about this crisis.  My father has been predicting this since he started his practice when I was young.  It seems now that there needs to either be a collapse or catastrophe before anything will be fixed now.  Just lastnight while we were talking he brought up another issue which I hadn\’t quite thrown into the equation yet.  For every doctors office the doctors are paying for at least one extra employee to file and re-file insurance claims just to be able to get paid.  What a crisis our health care system is at.

  3. Holy says:

    I\’m not given to prayer often but since moving to the States, I have discovered that I do so more often and its correlate is continued good health for us as a family.The system here frightens me somehow.  I understand the pay-to-play concept but because I am frugal, I would expect huge amounts out of a doctor visit – as a value for dollar – I\’m not even sure I\’d be keen to leave the doctor\’s office until a good couple hours of their time had been spent.  Suffice to say that apart from green card medicals – which were administered by a doctor with differing cultural and ethical values and that\’s all I\’m going to say about that – apart from that and taking the kids for obligatory immunizations – we have yet to have a basic health and wellness check-up in the two years since moving due south.Annual check-ups should be de rigeur legislation for every man, woman, child – and gratis at that.  But instead, billions are poured into the fuel tanks of the war machine.Insurance systems are fraught with corruption – overbilling of corporate plans to compensate for the under-billing of those unable to pay.  And don\’t even get me started on the legal system – how is it that the system even permits these multi million dollar lawsuits – it\’s proposterous and criminal that those amounts aren\’t capped…mind you this same system is the one that encourages unlimited federal politician campaign spending.  If every penny of those campaign dollars went towards toppling and rebuilding a viable, healthy health system, instead of keeping the HMO and pharma lobbyists happy, just imagine how many people might be keen to contribute campaign dollars.Hope springs eternal that we\’ll build a better way.

  4. Stephen Craig says:

    Jorge,  Congrats on the feature!  Again….smile.  You deserve it for such a well written and cared for Space.  Your posts and topics are ever engaging the reader.   As a simple painter and sometimes bad poet I have ever had a fear of corporate corruption. 
    I wonder how many of the Pharma giants touch the students and help them through med school.  I wonder how many of the Pharma giants own hospitals, I wonder about how many of the Pharma giants own insurance companies.   How can they do this without conscience?  I will never understand.  The money machine is not for people or the Earth.  It makes ne sad.  Glad your favorite poet and his new wife are visiting soon and the Grand Canyon trip should be a good one.  As ever be well.  Stephen Craig Rowe

  5. Michelle says:

    It is great to hear your perspective on this topic. Our healthcare system definitely has problems and I agree that drug companies and insurance companies need some regulation. Definitely bio-engineered drugs are so expensive that they can be beyond the grasp price-wise for those who need them. It can be discouraging to realize that some drugs have renewable patents so the end to the high prices are not foreseeable.
     
    As far as malpractice goes, I imagine it must be a difficult and scary thing for doctors and those in healthcare. I know many people sue at the drop of a hat. I was paralyzed after having a spine surgery and I never sued for malpractice or even felt it was what I should have done. Sometimes outcomes are not what you expect but in the end, we are all humans and errors happen. Honestly, I\’ve learned so much from being in the seated position. I value so many things that I took for granted before. I can\’t say I don\’t miss some things like dancing, running and swimming but overall, they are not as important as one would believe… 😉
     
    Have a good night and I am so happy the newlyweds visited and are doing well. Their Grand Canyon trip sounds great!
     
    Abrazos,
    Michelle

  6. zizicmp3 says:

    good evening ……… thank you for your visit on my blog good evening sincerely olive-tree has soon olivier 

  7. CM says:

    I am priviledged to live in a small town and have a dr. that cares…  sometimes I wonder what would happen if he were to move to bigger and better places to work.  As our insurance copays etc change, it does make it harder, however, we are fortunate to have the benefits we do.  I have been with and without insurance and am amazed that there is such a mess….  Something needs to be altered NOW….  visit when you can…. you are always appreciated and welcome, hugs, mtgal 

  8. Bittersweet on-the-hill. says:

    Jorge….
     

  9. Marge says:

     
    Powerful entry, Jorge.
     
    As one of those aging boomers,  issues of health care and the looming possibility of age-related incapacitation due to stroke (which claimed my mother several months ago) weigh heavily on my mind. I no longer believe the Feds can or will do anything to change the abuses and flaws in the healthcare-related industries we now know. Ultimately the financial responsibility will rest upon us as consumers and we must educate ourselves–information exists; we are obligated to find it and put it to work for our families and us.
    Lifestyle and nutritional issues must be addressed on the personal level–like it or not, people must consume alcohol responsibly, forsake nicotine in all forms, eat wisely, and increase the level of daily activity in their lives. Hereditary factors aside, better health is accessible with commitment and diligence. Genetic predispositions can be lessened, if not eliminated.
    As voters, we are obligated to get off our lazy as**s and start voting self-serving career politicians out of office, and watching carefully the forces BEHIND government–ultimately it is those shadowy figures who wield more influence than they should. As we learn of legislators who are literally and figuratively in bed with corporate interests, we must apply pressure to make them reconsider their political relationships. Offenders must be held accountable. Impeachment MUST be seriously considered: why is no one addressing this in popular forums?
     
    I will not point an accusing finger at anyone else without owning my own responsibility as a citizen of our great, but troubled country. I\’d educating myself and watching issues more carefully than I have ever done before and hope others will do so, as well.
     
    Thank you for inviting input, Jorge; it will be interesting to see further responses to your query.
     
    Always,
     
    Marge
     
     

  10. Gelert says:

    Hello Jorge. Long away, I see you\’ve had a wedding and all the excitement and mixed thoughts that come with it.
     
    Your piece on healthcare is so similar to the situation in Britain its amazing. Of course we have the health service here but due to lack of resources and amenities, more and more people are going private, more and better treatements demanded increase costs, and the government is now considering going down your route – maybe they need to read you and pull back while there is still time! 

  11. Marie says:

     I have been absent from blogland for what seems like a long, long time.  I have been extremely busy but I believe I will have more time for blogging this summer so you will be seeing more of me.
    Congratulations to the newly weds.  I wish them happiness.
    Hugs, Marie

  12. Unknown says:

    Hi Jorge,
    Thanks for visiting and leaving such a lovely comment about me.  What you wrote was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me, and your kind words warmed my heart and brought a few tears to my eyes.  You are such a special person, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
     
    And I appreciate this post about our healthcare system; it is indeed in a crisis situation.  Obviously, it’s a very complex issue and one that deserves considerable discussion.  I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on these important issues.  But, at this time I want to comment about something that affects me personally.  In addition to doctors retiring early or changing careers, you mention it might also affect those entering the field.  As I read all the negative comments about the medical profession, it certainly makes me wonder about my plans to go to medical school.  When so many people believe doctors are incompetent, impersonal, and uncaring, why should I become part of such a profession?  When I finish my pre-med courses, I’ll have a major in biochemistry and a minor in biology, so I’ll have opportunities other than medicine.  For example, I could go to work for a cosmetics company, and use my talents to develop new hair colors and makeup.  I’d enjoy a good life and avoid all the stress I’d have in the medical field.  Of course, I’m being silly here, but I hope everyone gets the point.
     
    A starting point in finding solutions to the healthcare crisis is for all parties to stop blaming each other for all the problems.  There is plenty of blame to go around, and all the parties you mention in your post share part of it.  In addition, all parties need to open their minds and be willing to listen to and consider new ideas.  Now most of the parties have such entrenched positions, all they can do is say “no” to any proposed changes.  Take care.  Danele 

  13. c says:

    I did have fun in California. It was great to get away. Sounds like you had quite the eventful trip as well!

  14. Principessa says:

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  15. Cheryl says:

    I heard on the news a few days ao that the average physician oly lives t be 56.  Sounds like a tough job.   

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