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Friday, January 15, 2016

Medical Mess

Medical Mess

I hope this doesn’t turn into a rant.

 We have great medical care in this country, it is just very expensive.  Good things, good service, is expensive.  When I retired I had to start paying my own medical insurance.  I pay more each month than people who make several dollars above the minimum wage take home in a month (I do have Medicare, most of my expense is for my wife and son.)  I am not complaining, I am lucky enough to be able to afford the insurance.  It does point out the problem for people who work from pay check to pay check and do not have insurance through their work. 

We should provide low cost subsidized medicine to those who need medical care and cannot afford it. 

People should not starve, people should have a roof over their head, and people should have medical care.

When I started paying my own medical insurance I opted for a relatively inexpensive dental plan.  Heck, years ago I had no dental plan at all even through work.  I mainly wanted to be insured for any major dental issues, and though my dentist for 30+ years was not on this plan, I didn’t mind paying out of pocket for routine procedures.

I asked my dentist of 30+ years, why he was not in my plan.  I was told that for what that plan reimburses he could not make a living without making it up in volume which would substantially drain the quality of his service.

I had a primary plan dentist who I only used to refer me to an oral surgeon when my dentist could not perform a procedure.  On several occasions my inexpensive plan saved me money.  Recently I had a tooth issue that required a root canal.  I called my plan dentist to get a referral to an endodontist, and he was no longer in business.  It seems he had been ripping off Medicare and or insurance companies and was missing in action or the recipient of three hots and a cot.

I now had to get a new primary care dentist for a referral or pay out of pocket for an expensive procedure.  After hours on the phone I was able to get a new dentist on my plan.  I had to join what I would call a dental mill.  I went for my appointment and God help me for my snobbery, but it was a scary place.  The waiting room was packed with people and little children coughing and sneezing, and there was an overall feeling of being just a number and a piece of dental meat.

I have opted to pay out of pocket for the surgery and seek a better if more expensive plan for the future.

I don’t mean to complain, but the experience has been eye opening to the fact that affordable or at least less expensive medical care is not ideal.  You get what you pay for. 

The experience reminded me of many years ago when we brought my new born son, Spencer, to a pediatrician one week after delivery.  We were directed to this pediatric group from the hospital.  When we entered the building it felt like the McDonalds version of a doctor’s office.   The first question the receptionist asked was for our insurance.  The second question was “are you married?”  She seemed surprised when the answer was yes.

After waiting 30 minutes for our new baby’s first exam a nurse poked her head in the examining room and snapped,

“Strip the baby down, I’ll be back in a minute.” 

The room was about 50 degrees, and I told my wife I would not strip the baby until needed, after all it takes about 10 seconds to remove a onesy. 

Thirty minutes later the nurse appeared again and immediately snapped with much anger,

“Didn’t I tell you to strip the baby?” 

I responded, “Why yes, I believe you did.  I opted to wait because the room is freezing.” 

She was not happy, but proceeded to weigh the baby and take his measurements.  It turns out that Spencer was lighter than at birth.  I knew that was to be expected.  But according to the nurses measurement he shrunk an inch.  I remarked a bit sarcastically,

“Isn’t it unusual for the baby to shrink an inch?” 

She ignored me and left saying the doctor would be in soon, “Keep the baby undressed.”

I put Spencer’s onesy back on.

We waited fifteen minutes before we both agreed; this was not the pediatric place for Spencer.  We simply walked out and ignored the nurse’s command to come back. 

Fortunately my insurance covered care from a small service oriented pediatric group, not a production line pediatric service.

Once again, I am able to afford more personalized medical care.  I realize there are many people in the country who cannot afford any medical care.  That is a bad thing.  It is wrong.  We should be able to do better.  Unfortunately doing the right thing for more people is going to bring down the quality of care for many.  The really wealthy people, the 5% er’s will always get top notch personalized care.  The service and quality I and many others have become accustomed to will become unaffordable.  The vast majority of the country will have to get used to long waits and becoming a number not a face.

Everyone deserves quality medical care.  My fear is that we are headed to a system where only the ultra wealthy will have quality care, everyone else will have substandard overcrowded care from overworked tired doctors and cranky nurses.

It is only fair, I don’t mean to complain, it is just that sometimes the way things become fair is when many people have to get less care so that others can get any care.

You get what you pay for.   In order to have everyone receive affordable medical care we all will have to pay for it in dollars and reduced service.

I have no answer, it is a real dilemma.  When health care is too expensive, people are abused.  When health care is inexpensive or free, the system is abused.


  1. In your words I'm one of those 'number not a face' people, but the service is by no means substandard and I've seen the same doctor for years, dentist too, so each of them knows me quite well. Luckily I'm rarely ill, my teeth are often in more trouble than I am, so that is where my health insurance comes in handy. I have an excellent plan with almost all standard procedures completely covered. I can't afford this, so one of my daughters pays it for me. Thank you K.

  2. You are correct; though we are moving toward universal coverage, as we should, the medical and more especially the pharmaceutical professions are holding us hostage for profit. It's still a case of the one percent and the rest are the fools trying to get by.

  3. “Isn’t it unusual for the baby to shrink an inch?”

    That line made me laugh way too hard. It's a good thing I have good medical care.

  4. You are exactly right. When someone tells me what a travesty Obamacare is, I just say that it has become necessary because the old employer-paid insurance system we were used to is becoming less and less universal. Too many people have NO coverage. What we need is to fix the problems with Obamacare (and there are apparently many), go to a universal system. From what I hear from my overseas friends, universal seems to work pretty well. Luckily K has employer coverage, and I have Medicare, so we're in good shape.

  5. I wish you luck in finding the allopathic care that is the the best for you and your family. There are many paths that lead to healing (real healing, not just treating a sympton) but it first has to be accepted as a mindset. All the best to you.

    Nor did I know babies shrink. Is that like in the movie, "Honey, I shrunk the kids?"

  6. Thank heaven for care through my Sweetie's retirement, although the cost goes up every year. Otherwise, we'd be without because my part time work offers no benefits.

  7. I pay through the nose and get less care. It's the way of things. Only the rich matter here and we've all known that for many years. They are the elite and well the rest of us don't really matter.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  8. Hi Cranky Man,

    You are quite right to be cranky about this. The American system sucks big time. Read about the UK National health Service which offers FREE health care for everybody. Yes - that's FREE!!!

    I pointed this out once on an American blog who was condemning Obamacare and was promptly condemned myself by the author.

    I didn't care really because we in the UK have the best of both worlds. You get FREE health care and, if you can afford to go private, you do (you receive quicker treatment most likely).

    Check it out.




  9. We have great coverage and no negative incidents with doctors personally, but that doesn't mean there aren't problems in the system. One of my daughters is an RN. She often related stories of honest, working class people who didn't address medical issues early because of cost. Later on, they paid the price. In the next room would be a druggie - in for his/her fix - all free of course, not a care in the world. I wonder if fraud, waste, and mismanagement will ever be absent from society. I am proud of President Obama for at least making an attempt. Think of the people saved from financial devastation because catastrophic illness randomly visited their families. You made some excellent points here. Good luck on your dental procedure!

  10. My next post is a similar vein of "getting what you pay for". I really wouldn't mind if we went to universal coverage.
    As for dentists, they have almost priced themselves out of business.

  11. Good thing the Federal Govt. and Insurance companies aren't directly in charge of more things in our life.

  12. I couldn't agree with you more.

  13. I don't have any answers, either...but I just can't believe that In order to have everyone receive affordable medical care we all will have to pay for it in dollars and reduced service. The universal health care system common in European nations does not have those "puppy mill" type of doctor's offices and while we pay around $3,000 for a colonoscopy here, it is about $850 in Europe (don't quote me on the exact numbers). Maybe we should go to a system like that - right now the health insurance companies are raking in the big bucks while people struggle with issues like that.

  14. My doctor used to have his own clinic, leasing space on the top floor of the local hospital clinic. He joined that group, for financial or insurance reasons, I suppose, and ever since has seemed not as caring, not as focused on getting the best treatment for his patients.

    I questioned him on the use of Xarelto after my unfortunate pulmonary embolism episode, because I was having side effects that he said were not listed in the literature. When I asked why I couldn't go off that drug and on something else after 6 months, instead of a year, he said sharply, "That's the standard of care, Val!"

    REALLY! Now there are commercials every hour for class action lawsuits against the makers of Xarelto. I feel like a guinea pig/lab rat. Even with TWO insurances.

  15. i do wish there was a better fix for this whole system. i paid private insurance for several years and we paid many thousands of out of pocket costs for medical treatments needed. most couldn't have afforded either, and i am grateful we were able to do it.

  16. Health care is big business in this country. It's about quota and ordering more procedures. Each person must be his/her own advocate. For some people this isn't even feasible - they just do whatever the DR orders. I'm sorry your son was shrinking before your very eyes.

  17. I've worked in medical for years. At the hospital, we would charge $245 for an ice bag that you could by for less than $3 at a drug store. A tylenol#3 could cost up to $30 a pill. It was disgusting.

    My husband and I paid over $1200 a month for insurance premiums and each of us had a $5000 deductible. We basically couldn't afford to see a dr because our medical costs were already out of hand. Once we paid insurance and taxes we were basically living under the poverty limits. I am not on medicare, thank goodness and can start saving for retirement....oops, too late!


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