Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This Patient Does NOT Get It (with apologies to Kevin)

This doctor went bankrupt.

This is what one of his patients has to say:
I am disappointed with whoever is responsible for allowing a shortage on primary-care physicians. Our Dr. Matthew Masewic is closing his practice due to finances and high insurance costs, which are ridiculous.

It's sad and a shame to lose such a wonderful, kind doctor who is much needed and wanted. We pay high premiums every week and expect our doctors to be paid when due. They work long, hard hours and deserve every cent they get.

Dr. Masewic had a dream - helping everyone - and I believe everyone should help him. He kept us on the right track to staying healthy, and he will be greatly missed.

It would be nice if legislators would do there job and stop allowing insurance companies to do what they want, and hospitals from charging a fortune. It costs more for an aspirin than a doctor visit. Hello, what's up with that? It's time we helped keep our doctors, because soon we won't have any.

Did this patient pay her co-pay when she saw the doctor? If he had tried to stay in business by cancelling his contracts with all the insurance companies and insisting on payment at time of service, would she have continued to see him, cheerfully paying the full fee for receiving care from "such a wonderful, kind doctor who is much needed and wanted"? Or would this letter to the newspaper have been in the same mail as a heartfelt letter to the wonderful doctor thanking him for all his kindness while regretfully requesting the transfer of her records to the big practice up the street who will take her insurance so she can see another wonderful, kind doctor for only $15?

We can go around and around and around about what a shame it is that docs like this guy, me and all of the rest of us primary care dinosaurs can't make a living without ever pointing a finger squarely where the blame belongs:

  1. The enormously lucrative, parasitic industry called "Health Insurance" (instead of what it really is: "Health Care Brokerage") that sucks out billions of dollars a year from the interactions between doctors and patients, because it can.
  2. American citizens who have come to believe that health care doesn't (and shouldn't) cost them anything. Deep down (not even so deep in some cases) everyone thinks the "ideal" health insurance plan is one that is completely paid for by one's employer and pays for everything. Payroll deductions, deductibles and co-pays are admitted to be necessary evils, but the smaller the better -- hence, the ideal.
Capitalism is a good way to do a lot of things, but what it has done to health care in this country -- unfettered -- is to bring it to the brink of destruction. Despite all the calls for doctors and legislators to "do something" about it, I believe Matthew Holt is right: "We'll eventually end up with a health care system like Brazil's where you can have anything you want if you're rich, and most of the rest of you can die in the slums." (quoted from 6 Dirty Little Health Care Secrets)

America is already polarizing itself into oblivion; why should health care be any different?


At Wed Oct 25, 08:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not American and I don't understand exactly how your system works. If the problem, as you say, is that private health insurance companies are making tons of money that should be directed to the system, then are there any non-profit health insurance companies? If not, then why not? Surely there are enough people who care about this issue and think it is important to start one up and to run it?

At Wed Oct 25, 07:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever the system we have in the US is now, unfettered capitalism isn't it, nor is it how it got this malignant.

At Fri Oct 27, 11:25:00 AM, Blogger Motherhood for the Weak said...

I find the US healthcare system so ironic. In a culture that values entrepeneurship, we make it almost impossible for anyone to start a business because they can't afford the health insurance.

My husband is from Europe and I often tell him we should move because, at least in Europe, despite their problems, they believe healthcare is a right, not a privelege. You can be unemployed and still receive medical care.

Lastly, as I go through infertility treatments and add to my burgeoning collection of chronic ailments along the way, I know, for me, that quality of care is vital. I will pay extra for the doctor I know has the skills to help me. The problem is, I have had an awful time finding a good PCP and so rely on various specialists for my care.

Most people haven't been truly ill and don't understand how important health is. Nor do they have the education to understand anything beyond their symptoms. How many patients can truly extrapolate the ramifications of slightly elevated sugar levels on a glucose tolerance test? Not many, I would guess judging by the people I know.

And I always pay my co-pays and am relatively prompt with any bills I receive.


At Thu Mar 08, 03:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the health insurance insurance industry is so lucrative then why don't the doctors buy an exising company or start your own. Didn't they teach you any economics in school. That must be why they keep going broke. If they would put out enough doctors that you had to compete you would find out how easy you have it.


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