Monday, March 19, 2012
Health care or lack there of
Having no health insurance is like waiting for a time bomb to go off. Unlike the movies where the audience sees the clock tick down to a climatic end, having no coverage makes the process blindfolded. I can't think of anyone on the planet who hasn't had need of a doctor at some point in their life. Even the remotest tribes have developed some type of folk medicine. Some quite good discoveries have come the far reaches of our planet but then some not so good. A man shaking a rattle and throwing dust in the air isn't going to do it when you need your appendix out.
How did the current mess of our health care system here in the U.S. evolve to such a state? Crank back the hands on the clock and we'll find out. Many factors were involved. Hospitals for one back in the days of Beaver Clever were mostly non profit and public. Even private hospitals had to rely on fund raising and donations to build a new wing. Insurance companies as well had no shareholders to answer to. Most doctors back then had a private office outside the hospital where they saw patients. There were no set rates for medical procedures back then and no bean counters to answer. The poor were looked after by donations and grants and something unheard of today. A doctor would tack on some extra on to Mrs. Gotrocks gall bladder surgery in order to cover Peter Poor's bicycle accident.
How well did the system work you may ask. Imagine if you will having a slight accident and in need of stitches. It's late and after doctors hours so you head to the local emergency room. They stitch you up and send you on your way after you pay them $50. Even factoring in inflation that's a pittance compared to today's prices. Such an event today would run in the thousands. And why? Because now every aspect of medicine from the fancy sheepskin on the wall in the doctor's office to the cotton balls at the hospital must generate a profit, no exceptions! And with everything requiring an accounting more bean counters were necessary and then more administrators to watch over the bean counters which in turn meant more administrators in the insurance companies and since they too had a bottom line to protect required entire boards to deny coverage.
Automation hasn't really helped the situation either. I have in the last few years had to fight for even the coverage I was due because some computer spit out a denial form as it was programed to do. And we all know computers never lie right? Ever look at an itemized hospital bill? You'll always catch errors for services and items never provided because they send a boiler plate bill. Sorry guys I wasn't in for a circumcision even though you slipped that one in just before the phone calls I never made. Does anyone get charged with fraud? Oh pardon us it was a billing error. We'll fix it as soon as we can figure out how to send you another incomprehensible bill with our techno medical talk. And don't get me started on dental bills. You need an advanced degree in Latin to understand them.
Our medical establishment has been reduced to something akin to a Quick Lube joint. Assembly line "doc in the boxes" that have one purpose and that's a walletectomy. That strikingly new procedure thought up in the 70s with the incorporation of HMOs (health maintenance organizations). They should be called YMOs (yacht maintenance organizations) because the only ones to benefit are the ones making all the profits.
Don't get me wrong I'm not against a doctor making a decent living it's just that now they can't even do that. They didn't do too bad in the era of Ozzie and Harriet as I recall. But the problems here are far more complex than that involving our educational system, our banking and our tax structure. So I'll save that for another day, wouldn't want to make you too sick with all this.