In light of the recent presidential debate stirring up the topic once again, I'd like to share my Unconventional Doctor's Wife opinion on the "right to health care." Keep in mind, I am the wife of a provider so I may have a somewhat different view of this subject than the average Joe.
First, I believe in rights. I believe people have the right to OBTAIN HEALTH CARE AT A REASONABLE COST. Insurance companies should be ashamed at the greed that they display. The average consumer of health insurance does not know the following...
CEO Name, Company, 2005 Salary
William McGuire, United , $135,000,000
John Rowe, Aetna, $57,049,000
Edward Hanway Cigna , $42,130,000
For the source of these stats and even more infuriating stats go here...
That is just 3 CEOs in the industry! It angers me to think how many families could have health care coverage for just part of that amount. Who NEEDS double or triple digit millions to live comfortably? Not the average person that is for certain.
I also believe in the RIGHT TO WORK HARD AND EARN A LIVING. However, I do not agree that ethically this amount of money squeezed from the hardworking patrons of insurance companies is right or justifiable in any way. So I'm left feeling torn. Who should determine an appropriate salary for these guys? Should there be a cap? Ideally, these men would reject these earnings in favor of lower premiums for their customers.
Next time you have to pay that co-pay at the doctor's office, instead of being angry with the doctor who has to pay his staff, keep the lights on, buy new equipment, and pay off his school loans think of these men who take and keep for themselves. Insurance as a whole is an industry that uses every excuse to "cut costs" by cutting benefits to their patrons for any reason they can remotely justify. My husband has spent countless hours filling out paperwork, making phone calls, writing out his reasoning behind his decision for his patient and generally jumping through hoops to try to get denial of coverage changed for his patients. All during business hours and between seeing other patients. It is ridiculous and as consumers we should be outraged.
Don't even get me started on the drug companies. They are also to blame for part of the health care problems.
I believe in the RIGHT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR OURSELVES. We pay every month so that we can have insurance just like you. In fact, we have mediocre coverage and pay through the nose just like everyone else. However, it is something that must be done. Until the system is changed, we have no choice.
Here are the RIGHTS AVAILABLE TO EVERY PERSON in regards to health care...
1. You have the right to choose healthy food and eat a reasonable amount.
2. You have a right to cease or never begin smoking, chewing, using drugs or abusing alcohol.
3. You have a right to exercise and keep your heart, lungs and weight healthy.
4. You have a right to do everything you can to live a life that does not cause you emotional distress that can eventually manifest itself in physical ailments.
If everyone exercised these rights, there would be a heck of a lot less crisis in our health care system because the average person would be a lot healthier to begin with. THESE ARE THE RIGHTS I BELIEVE IN. Oh wait, that sounds a lot like RESPONSIBILITY. Hmmm. Maybe McCain is onto something here.
Let me tell you what RIGHTS DOCTORS DO NOT HAVE. They don't have the right to unionize. They have no collective bargaining power when it comes to negotiating the price for their services. (Not that they would utilize it because a strike would interfere with patient care) but the point is...they provide a service and they should be able to function as though they are in a capitalistic society just like everyone else. They have strict regulations on payments received and have to be fair and equitable so that they are not accused of defrauding the government by charging a cash pay patient less than they charge medicaid or medicare even though they only see a small percentage of what the service is actually worth.
The (not so) funny thing about it is that they do not have the rights that other industries have in a capitalistic society but they have the responsibilities. They still have to pay staff, pay taxes and purchase consumable and non-consumable products for their clinic's use just like every other business. They still have to have an education, do continuing education and subject themselves to a variety of OVERSIGHTS to be sure they are competent at their job. However, they are treated as though, because they chose to be doctors, they should be at the beck and call of their patients and the whims of the government (who happens to be in bed with insurance and drug companies). Sure they want to help people but they still have to make a living and pay for their responsibilities.
Neither do they have the right to use the knowledge they have (BOUGHT) gained in med school and residency and practice to provide the best health care for their patients. Someone is always telling them that the drug they have chosen for their patient is not covered or the test they deem necessary is indeed not necessary or this patient has been in the hospital too long or that patient doesn't NEED that surgery (though the neurosurgeon also deems it necessary). How frustrating.
How about we look at ourselves as consumers in the health care system. We are getting the raw end of the deal. We should be demanding better...a system that regulates the credentials, qualifications and quality of doctors without making them work within stifling restrictions that are anti-capitalistic and just plain illogical in many cases.
You have the right to health care just like I have the right to provide food for my family. I still have to buy it. No one gives it to me but no one is stopping me from buying it either. I don't hear anyone yelling at the farmers because bread and milk prices are rising...that is because it is not their fault. They do what they do and outside forces (like gas prices) cause the changes in prices. The same is true for doctors...they do what they do and outside forces are determining the costs for an office visit (like DROPPING reimbursements from insurance companies, medicare and medicaid). I think we are barking up the wrong tree here with who we are targeting for reform when it comes to health care. Lets follow the money trail and I bet it would be scary to find out where it leads. Leaving the reformation of the health care system in the hands of the government, insurance representatives and drug company representatives is like leaving your child in the care of a molester...what do you think is likely to happen. There are so many ulterior motives there that by the time we find out the repercussions of the "reform" as health care consumers, their pockets will be fully lined and I don't mean with fabric.
For an interesting look at the day to day issues of doctoring, check out Doc's blog...