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.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Guest Rant: The Crux of the Problem

Discussing the value (or lack thereof) placed by patients on primary care and preventive medicine, my friend and fellow dinosaur Dr. G puts it so well:
It all seems to boil down to "How do we make sure that people get the things they need but don't value enough to pay for themselves?"

No wonder primary care is in the mess it is (and specialists thrive.) Here comes the the light bulb: the real reason for the demise of Family Medicine is that people don't want us. They do if someone else pays for it, but not if they have to pay out of their own pockets.

Specialists get paid for the things people value: "Bail my butt out of the jam I got myself into" care. People want the angioplasty and they'll raise the funds for a specialist to do a procedure, even if it only adds a week to their life. Yet they won't pay a $20 copay to discuss preventive care with us.

Patients often make these same kinds of decisions in the face of dismal prognoses: full court press with the chemo, ICU, etc. The oncologist, thoracic surgeons, intensivists, pulmonologists, cardiologists and others all get rich billing desperate people who were too busy to think about preventive care, or didn't care enough to pay for it before they got sick. The statistics on how much of our healthcare dollar we spend in the last few months of our lives escape me, but they point to why our system is in the state it is.
Couldn't have said it better myself, and believe me: I've tried.


At Thu Sep 07, 04:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's not the $20.00 copay but the 3 hour wait?

Trips to my FP are never under 3 hours.

At Thu Sep 07, 09:53:00 PM, Blogger MedStudentGod (MSG) said...

I would have to agree with the "quick fix" aspect of specialists. It seems like a lot of patients want to be made 100% (or as close as possible) without receiving any of the blame for their decline in health. It's very American - fast food culture and fast-health care culture.

There may also be something with the fact a lot of FP docs no longer perform surgeries, delivery babies, etc. I was delivered by my family doc whom I continued to see throughout my life until his retirement. He performed surgeries on my dad, brother, and me. I don't think that is feasible much anymore - what with malpractice and tort reform nowhere near where it should be.

At Sat Sep 23, 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Twenty dollars? Wow, I wish I had insurance like that. It's eighty bucks for me to see my primary doctor.

The budget gives me forty dollars a week for groceries for a family of five.

Guess how often I go "just for a general checkup." Yeah. I scrape it together when I've got something wrong and it's not going away on its own.

Ideal? No. But better than not having any food to feed my family, or having the heat turned off.


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