Sunday, March 22, 2009

License to Ill

Health care3 (With apologies to the Beastie Boys for blatantly ripping off their album title.)

I've written about health care reform before, and I believe it's a necessity. Outrageous healthcare costs are a part of our economic woes, and we need to figure out a new way of doing things if we are going to regain our equilibrium and prosper again. I like this graphic that I found online, because I think many bristle at the term "socialized medicine." I don't believe that universal healthcare is the equivalent of socialized medicine. We can do things smarter and more efficiently, and make sure that everyone has access to care. HMO's are a way of negotiating a better price on fees; yes, you are limited to going within your network if you want full coverage. Isn't that what a lot of people dislike about "socialized" medicine? Being forced to go to a certain provider? I was in an HMO for a couple of decades, and I got the care I needed.

Anyhoo, I got to thinking about the subject again, because I had an email from my pal and former coworker, Teresa. She's still working at the lab where I worked for the past ten years, and fills me in on the latest. Apparently there is talk lately of layoffs, and that is shocking. This particular lab has never laid anyone off in the almost 100 years of its existence, and they pride themselves on that. It's dismaying to hear that layoffs could be possible (although in any company, there are rumors that fly in times like these). The lab still is an internship site, as well, and it became very stressful to try to juggle the high workload while trying to teach our next generation of lab professionals. And internship lengths are way down from when I got my degree. I think now it's a matter of maybe three months total, and my internship was a full twelve months. I wonder if we aren't shortchanging students...but times have changed, and a lab just can't sustain such a long internship anymore.

I think I'm rambling. Hearing that from Teresa just made me think about how we need to rework our system and streamline things. I've said it before that we need to stop duplication of services and allow certain hospitals to take the lead in certain areas. Competition is good, but not when it drives up already astronomical costs. And part of it involves all of us becoming more educated about illnesses and more in control of our health. It infuriates me to hear of doctors caving in to patients with a stupid head cold when they demand antibiotics. Jeez, just say no! Are you an MD or a mouse?! And why are there still people who think that antibiotics are effective against a virus? Get with the program.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but it's obvious that we need to do something. No one should be going without medical care here, and we need to figure out how to make it happen while managing and reducing cost. I think it's possible.


  1. I have no problem with individual states creating health care coverage. Wisconsin taxes left and right - might as well get something for it. Lower income but working families can purchase BadgerCare here for a few hundred a month, and I have no problem with that.

    Federally? Hell no. Washington isn't as ineffective as it's made out to be, but there are too many competing interests. The health problems of one community do not necessarily reflect those of another, nor does every state have the same facilities as another. Let it be decided at the state level.

  2. 12 month intership to 3 months is a big leap. Were you prepared after 3 months?

  3. I have a question: "How can an intership be done in 3 months? If it used to take 12 months." Are they still learning the same or are they learning less?
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  4. I think I have written before praising our NHS in GB. It is far from perfect and after being in use for just over 60 years the high costs of todays treatment has caused a huge burden on the government and consequently the tax payers. When the NHS came into being in 1947 the government of the day never envisaged the advance in age and the cost of medical treatments.(achieved no doubt at all by the free NHS)
    However we still have our medical service free and I would defend it with my last breath...And would recommend it to all countries.
    It horrifies me when I read of cases in the US where patients are turned away terminally ill from medical care. My heart goes out them all
    Love Sybil x

  5. Beth, I so agree with you. I don't know the answer, but there has to be a way. So many of our patients come back time after time after time because once we get them straightened out on their meds they go home and once again can't afford them and end up back with us. It's so frusrating and sad.

    I think so many people balk at the word "socialized" maybe "universal" sounds better to them. I'd hate to see people going without healthcare simply because people don't like a certain word. Boggles my mind.

  6. We have universal health care in Canada and we are not limited in any way as to the doctors we can see or the hospitals we can use. In it "universal" in that we all have access to the same health care, no matter where we live, or no matter how much money we have or do not have. I cannot imagine why this system would feel threatening to some people. Perhaps more of a threat for Americans who can afford good health insurance or good doctors and hospitals. Do they not want others to have access to the same level of health care. Perhaps not. Good health care is a fundamental right and it should not matter which city or state you live in, how much money you make or have in the bank. Nor should you have to go bankrupt to save the life of a loved one. If we can judge a country by how well it looks after its' sick, poor and infirm, then there is lots of room for improvement in the USA.

  7. I can only reiterate what Sybil has said about the NHS in Britain. Yes it has a high level of bearocrocy etc but at least sick people can get treatment without having to worry about cost. From my own personal experience I can say that it has never let me down. I saw my GP three days before Christmas and saw the consultant oncologist on Christmas Eve.


  8. There are people that can't buy health insurance at any cost because they aren't in top shape. the insurance companyies don't want to take the risk. These people, along with everybody is entitled to health insurance as a basic fundamental right in my opinion.

  9. I agree completely about healthcare. We are retired so we have to pick out of many a drug plan we can afford and it also pays for the Dr. and hospital and we have a copay on all including medication. My husbaND HAD TO HAVE THE BATTERY ON HIS DEFRIB/PACEMAKER REPLACED last year and the hospiital gave us an estimate of 4,500.00 for one day out patient basis in hospital. Our insurance person came out and wrote a policy that he paid 20.00 for and kept the entire year. We paid 190.00 for that visit. The care was very poor aS FAR AS I COULD TELL. The cost would have been beyond us if we had not had the drug plan. This year Humana wanted 80.00 a month to keep him on. We could not do that along with the 49.00 they were going to charge me. We switched to zero we paid for a plan but it is more for co pay on drugs. I have a friend in Canada and they do fine on their plan and I think it is muc h the same as in Britain.

  10. First ... I love 'Wall of Vodoo'! When Stan Ridgway would come thru, I used to go see him at the Magic Stick ... or is it Bag?

    Oh, did you catch what the Ball State women's team did in their first game in the tourney? I thought of you watching the highlight on ESPN. The girls were so loose, they made me laugh. Then they went out and took down Tenessee. Good for them!

    Yes, I know there isn't anything in here about health care ... this isn't to say it isn't important, but more like I want to think about puppies and running thru the sprinkler!

  11. Timely entry Beth. So many are out of work and out of health insurance as well. Even those of us who are fortunate enough to have it (I have it through GM at the moment) have taken huge hits in the cost and care. I'm almost looking forward to Medicare and a suppliment. It should be better than what I have now.
    Hugs, Joyce

  12. While I agree that we need uniform healthcare for everyone, I'm not sure the best way to go about implementing it. I've worked in doctor's offices and most of them are not altruistic. When part of an HMO or PPO network, they make money by NOT referring folks to specialists. They make money when they DON'T see patients. The per patient fee they received each month really doesn't cover the costs of having the patient actually show up in the office to be treated. Sad, that. In Canada, I understand that the waiting lists are so long to see specialists that many folks cross the border to get medical care here in the U.S.
    I hope they can come up with a working system, because I do think this is important.

  13. universal heath care NOW at any cost!

    let the rich eat the bills for a change rather then the poor man suffering for want of appropriate and equitable medical attention.

    DECENT health care, like DECENT education, should be a right and not a privilege.

    anyone who wants to try to argue with me that the process that decides who gets medicare/ medicaid is a fair and equitable one and/or what the cost of supplemental medicare costs knows where to find me.


  14. Beth,
    I agree with you totally. There's some doctors that give out the antibiotics like candy!!! That's the reason they don't work like they use to.

  15. Universal healthcare IS socialized medicine. It would not only be enormously expensive, & would hit the low-income people that it's supposed to help the hardest (look at Tenncare in Tennessee - it's almost bankrupted the state), but universal healthcare is a giant triage. Treatment is prioritized, & many people die while waiting for treatment. Canada is a prime example. If their system works so well, then why do the hospitals along the Canadian border on the U.S. side have more Canadian patients than Americans. More people there die waiting for treatment than those who die in surgery.

    And as for HMO's - I have a video expose' that was shown on A&E years ago exposing the problemsw with HMO's. The way they work in a nutshell (get it, Nutwood, nutshell, see I'm on a roll too!) is the more time a doctor spends with you, the less money he or she makes, & at some point they start going in the hole. Not a good situation.

    The best way to cut healthcare costs is not MORE government in it, but less. Much of the cost is due to unnecessary government regulations. In any area, there are always many unnecessary & costly government regulations. Insurance is another reason for the high costs. When I was growing up, taxes were much lower than they are now & insurance only covered emergency hospital care. When insurance benefits started increasing, so did medical costs, because the perception was that insurance companies had a lot of money, so costs were inflated.

    Personally, I can't afford universal healthcare.

    While I'm on the subject - our health records on THE INTERNET????? A file folder can't be hacked into, while ANYTHING that's internet based can be. Not a good idea at all.


  16. Certainly we need something different than we have now. Large companies provide good health care for employees, but that leave to large a segment of our population without the same level of care. It is the uncovered that drive up the cost for the rest.

  17. I vastly prefer the concept of PPO's to the "budget" concept of HMOS's. I had a friend who was diagnosed with AIDS (back in the day) who had atypical tuberculosis (due to his lack of immunity) that formed a lesion in his esophogus. He was wasting away because the HMO could not determine the cause of his agony. The HMO refused an out of network referall, so a bunch of us did shows, carwashes, and whatever else to raise money to send him to a specialist. They immediatley diagnosed his condition, which would never heal if he kept trying to swallow past it! They put him on IV nutrition (which the HMO did agree to pay for after a threatening letter from an attorney friend) and he recovered from that agony. Unfortunately, he was weakened even further by that issue, and we didn't have all the treatmenets we have now, but the point is taht HMO's are VERY slow to adopt new protocols. People die waiting for them to make decisions. Not a good system, IMHO (What an ironic abbreviation!)

  18. I figured to tack this onto this post rather than start up something in your new one. The job I lost in November was that of the GM of one of the 12 largest hotels in Wisconsin, right down the road from a renowned hospital.

    Over the years we hosted scores of people from around the world who sought treatment there. In many, many cases they were coming from nations with 'universal' health care who felt they could get better or faster care at that hospital.

    I know of at least one Scandanavian woman who had her treatment paid for, in full, by her nation's health insurance because they themselves acknowledged their system was incapable of sucessfully treating her illness.

    I met patients from: Japan, Canada, Australia, Scandanavia (I think it was Sweden, but I no longer recall), and Latin America.

    There are many things wrong with our system, but there's a whole hell of a lot right with it too. I don't know if I'd buy anecdotal 'success' stories from socialized countries without a lot of hard proof, knowing what I do.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?