America First, Again–Reducing Health Care Costs

WE CANNOT REDUCE THE COST OF HEALTH CARE, SECURE MORE ACCESS, AND MAINTAIN THE QUALITY WE WANT UNLESS THE COST AND SPECIFIC CARE TO BE PROVIDED ARE KNOWN TO THE PATIENT AND THE DOCTOR AT THE TIME THE CARE IS GIVEN.   

The costs involved in health care have become prohibitive and erratic. The same procedures costs different amounts in different places and circumstances.  A multiplicity of tests are performed for defensive purposes because doctors and other practitioners are afraid of legal action against them. Some of these tests could be more dangerous than the procedure.

Specialists, the practitioners with years and years of extra training, are so specialized that they often have forgotten how their special part of the body is connected to the rest of the body. So much treatment is given for symptoms with little understanding of the cause of the difficulty.  

Nevertheless, I don’t think there is a better system in the world than ours. Then, how do we improve on what we have, keep the best, treat the whole person, no longer have to perform excessive tests for fear of litigation, and make it accessible and affordable for all?  

I believe that the only way that we can move in the future is to have the patient driving the bus:  the patient takes responsibility for preventive care and is rewarded for it; the doctor publishes the price of every procedure and service; the patient is aware before anything is done what the cost will be; no charge is sent to an insurance company without the signature of the patient; at the end of each session/treatment/consultation, the doctor gives the patient a summary of what has taken place with all treatments and costs; any questions should be answered then; the patient should know what the cost is before they leave the area of treatment; the patient should be able to go anywhere and get nearly the same cost for any particular procedure.

 

And most of all, the cost should be the same if I pay cash or if my insurance company is billed. I have had the experience of having a certain number of treatments authorized by the insurance; when I chose to continue and pay for them myself, I found that my cash price was half of what the insurance company was billed. There must be a set price, cash or insurance.

 

Unless the patient is aware of and is responsible  for the amount of the bill, fraud, excessive charges, vastly different charges for the same procedure, unnecessary tests and defensive procedures will endure, hospitals will charge exorbitant amounts for insignificant stuff, and the costs will continue to soar.  

 

Patients must eliminate the attitude that it doesn’t cost them anything when their insurance company is billed. This will continue when the patient is removed from the responsibility of at least knowing what the charges are.

 

More than just the treatment should be between patient and doctor. The cost must also be known to both at the same time. I believe most will take seriously the ethics of responsibility.

 

WHEN THE PATIENT IS UNAWARE OF THE COST OF MEDICAL TREATMENT UNTIL THEY SEE THE MATERIAL FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY, THE COST WILL NOT GO DOWN.

 

 

 

America First, Again–Health Care

 At 95 years of age, I have lived with health care a long time. I have watched it in operation not only for myself, but for members of a large extended family, and for neighbors and friends. I have experienced people with and without health care. I have watched my mother pay our doctor bills with farm produce or whatever she gathered together. Everybody in our small town, including the doctor, loved my mother’s cottage cheese, garden vegetables, and berries.  Dr. John was a large affable man who was always available, whether or not you had money to pay the bill. Mother bartered for most of ours.

Never did I hear my mother complain or bitch about “our rights to health care.” Health care, along with everything else in our life, was built on opportunity, not entitlement. We had access with compassion, care with caution (when we went to the doctor, he knew mother had done everything that she could), and we lived with large doses of preventive health.

 Even the smallest towns had a doctor for medical care. And the doctors were all general practitioners. The Doctors Mayo were in Rochester, not far from my Iowa home. I knew there were hospitals in larger cities. I knew when I was a child that there was help in Iowa City for the really bad things that you couldn’t pay for . My mother went there once when I was a small child; I was very frightened. I had a severe grease burn on my leg; nothing could be done. Maybe that’s when I learned to endure pain. My first son was born when his father was overseas slated for the invasion of Japan; the four days of labor were barbaric by today’s standards or any standards.  But  I also learned then that there were greater forces than the medical profession determining that we would both live.

There was more faith and trust than tests and pills. No, I am not suggesting the good old days, but I do believe that the patient and the treatment have to be more closely connected–including the cost. There is no other way we can afford today’s health care. Neither can we afford to continue to dispense “medicine” at the rate that we are doing. Wanting a pill or a shot every time we feel a tinge or trace of something, does not allow for the amazing body we were given by our Creator to heal itself. The Great Physician needs to be on one side of that scale.