Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A doctor speaks on Obama's Healthcare plan

My brother in the Caribbean posted a link on Facebook this morning to a column by Dr. Zane F. Pollard. In Ewa Kochanska's introduction to Dr. Pollard's column she writes:

While the healthcare reform debate has been picking up this summer, the conversation is mostly between politicians and average citizens who do not practice medicine. US doctors and nurses seem to have been left out from this dispute, even though the outcome will influence them, their lives, their practice, and their ability to stay in business, enormously.
Clearly, if the reform is not private practice "friendly" we as a community might lose our best physicians and our economy might weaken as a result of doctors shutting down or going out of business.


She makes a great point. With that in mind, here is the start of Dr. Pollard's column:

I have been sitting quietly on the sidelines watching all of this national debate on healthcare. It is time for me to bring some clarity to the table by explaining many of the problems from the perspective of a doctor.
First off, the government has involved very few of us physicians in the healthcare debate. While the American Medical Association has come out in favor of the plan, it is vital to remember that the AMA only represents 17% of the American physician workforce.
I have taken care of Medicaid patients for 35 years while representing the only pediatric ophthalmology group left in Atlanta, Georgia that accepts Medicaid. For example, in the past 6 months I have cared for three young children on Medicaid who had corneal ulcers. This is a potentially blinding situation because if the cornea perforates from the infection, almost surely blindness will occur. In all three cases the antibiotic needed for the eradication of the infection was not on the approved Medicaid list.
Each time I was told to fax Medicaid for the approval forms, which I did. Within 48 hours the form came back to me which was sent in immediately via fax, and I was told that I would have my answer in 10 days. Of course by then each child would have been blind in the eye.

He writes about many more instances of how government controled health care provides poorer health care.

I heard a line a couple weeks back government controled health care bureaucracy would have the kind heart of the IRS and the efficiency of the DMV.

It is worth reading the whole column.

Technorati tags: healthcare, reform


Crimson Wife said...

As someone who had the "pleasure" of experiencing the military healthcare system, I would love to require anyone in favor of government-run medicine to spend a couple years using the military system and then see how many are still in favor of it. The typical civilian has NO CLUE how bad it really is.

Kris said...

I must agree completely with Crimson Wife. I grew up in the military, served 20 years, and continue to stand by my husband while he serves. The military healthcare system IS horrible. And it is, effectively, a Universal Health Care Plan. Wake up America!

Ashley said...

Granted, a "public option" would involve more bureaucracy than a purely-public single-payer system like we have in Canada, where practitioners know what the government will pay for, and the decision is always made by the doctor and their patient. However, it seems to me that private insurance also involves bureaucracy, they are just less efficient and work harder to deny people coverage. Also, the Medicaid clients are better off negotiating a bureaucracy that having no coverage at all.

I agree with Pollard's last point, that female practitioners work far fewer hours over their career, but that has nothing to do with these reforms. The idea that demand for doctors will increase is caused by the fact that more people will be getting treated - not a bad thing, I think.

Magic and Mayhem said...

I spent much of my life without any health insurance at all. While those on public assistance generally can get government health insurance and those lucky enough to get it through work get it, there are millions of working families who have nothing. For those people, even the idea of something that people are dissatisfied with is a hope they are desperately clinging to.

My mother had to pay for her own brain surgery and medical care for a brain tumor out of pocket. First she had to pay for all of her medical bills since had no insurance, and then when she finally found a job that offered it, her insurance company (a "good" one) said that her brain tumor was a preexisting condition and would not cover it. She had to work two full time jobs with an excrutiating BRAIN TUMOR because she fell through the cracks. She paid over $100k in medical bills, and that was after negotiating with every doctor and every hospital to try to get the costs down. She died.

I have so many friends who have to pay for all of their prenatal care and delivery costs themselves when they have a baby. I know people who have suspicious health problems but avoid going because they simply don't have the money for the doctor visit or the tests, much less the treatment.

I know of families who lost their homes and almost everything because a child got sick or the dad got cancer, even when they DID have insurance. The companies found excuses to drop them.

I've been without health coverage for much of my life and there are millions of good people in our country who don't have it now. It's heartbreaking when your health and sometimes your life is too expensive and you have to consider medical care a luxury.

I hope that your health care is not adversely affected, but I also hope that at some point soon all people can have a basic right to health coverage. Even horrible coverage would be a Godsend for so many families.


Henry Cate said...

Alicia - my belief is government run health care will be worse for almost everyone. There may be a few that are better off, but 90% and more will end up paying more for health care, and receive poorer medical coverage. Government just has a hard job providing a good service.