Re: Health Care Reform?
Doc Peters – I know the trials practitioners have to go through dealing with the insurance companies and all the price-fixing that the insurance companies and government regulations dictate. I do understand how and why my particular situation occured, and I don’t blame it on the doctors or the hospital at all. Blame for this mess rests squarely on the shoulders of the insurance companies, government and pharmaceutical companies.
I think part of the problem is that our current system actually forces practitioners to think in terms of profit because they have to. Using your double brain transplant analogy… the surgeon knows that a double brain transplant will take him most of the day to perform, during which he won’t be able to see any other patient or get any other work done. So, he knows that he normally makes about $2k a day doing normal business, so he charges $2k for the surgery… maybe a little more to set aside to cover some "pro bono" surgery for another patient at some future time. Now, simply because Insurance #1 will pay $5k, he sets his price at $5k even though his effort/expense is really only $2k… and the uninsured patient gets nailed by artificial price inflation. If the surgeon simply charged a set rate for the surgery, regardless of whether the "going rate" was higher, then neither he nor the patient would have to be concerned with the whining insurance companies or possibly commiting insurance fraud. Again, this is the fault of the insurance companies & government… not specifically the practitioner (although there are some money-hungry practitioners out there who do milk the system).
Perhaps I’m lucky in that I lived in a small community where healthcare was not overly monetized. The docs and the tiny hospital charged everyone the same amount, regardless of insurance, and you pretty much had all the time you needed to discuss your issues with the doc. If someone couldn’t afford their treatment, then mutually-equitable deals were worked out. Fund raisers were held 2-3 times a year to make specific improvements to the facility or to pay for specific treatments for specific individuals… i.e. "we need to send Johnny to the city for a kidney transplant, won’t you please buy a cupcake?" Conversely, the community had fund drives to help pay tuition for the practitioners… i.e. "Peggy just got accepted to med school, won’t you please buy a raffle ticket?". This community-based system worked quite effectively, everyone got reasonable health care at reasonable cost and the hospital ran in the black without being excessively reliant on government, pharma or insurance programs. To the best of my knowledge, it’s still going strong and still operating pretty much the same.
So, no, I don’t believe that more government regulations are the answer… unless the regulations are strictly applied to the INSURANCE companies, while leaving the healthcare practitioners to operate less burdened. I fully believe that the healthcare system would function more like a true free-market system if we could remove the blood-sucking leeches (insurance companies) from the mix. But, on the flipside, healthcare practitioners shouldn’t be able to jack up their prices simply because they can… and that is the problem with free-market and consummate-demand commodities. Getting rich off the suffering of others just because you can is just plain wrong… black market, war lord stuff! I think community-based "socialized" healthcare (like I described above) is a happy medium. No one should get in the way of a doc who wants to help someone even if that person can’t afford to pay… if the doc doesn’t care about doing the work pro bono or discounted, then it’s nobody’s business. Sliding-scale doesn’t have to end in price-gouging unless the practitioners get greedy… perhaps more transparency of costs and reasoning would keep people from getting too grumpy about the discrepancy of charges.