Friday, March 16, 2012

Health care ramblings

The US' health care system is pretty effed up.  We and our employers shell out a lot of money, most of which seems to go to the insurance companies.  I know a few doctors and they say they aren't getting all that rich because the insurance companies cap how much they'll shell out for the various procedures.  I guess the really lucrative doctoring is plastic surgery since the insurance companies aren't all that involved.

The real issue is most of us aren't getting squat for our money.  You make an appointment, you show up early, you fill out a bunch of paperwork by hand (why can't we just have a medical card with all of our relevant information and medical history?  Because companies are making money storing your data so why should you get it for free?) and then you wait and wait.  You finally get seen and the doctor spends about five minutes with you asking basic questions, pokes you a bit and then orders up a battery of tests or prescribes something.  When I was a kid, I remember longer doctor visits where he asked a lot of questions and spent time figuring out what was going on.  Are people getting sicker these days?

Another problem is malpractice.  Doctors are afraid of getting sued for missing something so they order up the aforementioned battery of tests.  Do I really need a chest x-ray just because I have a cough?  Maybe if I've had a cough for six months or something, but sometimes we cough.  The other issue is an over-prescription of antibiotics.  They're less effective now because the doctors will prescribe them for nearly everything.  I was sick for a couple of weeks with a possible sinus infection.  People kept telling me to go to the doctor to get antibiotics.  Guess what?  The NIH recommends doing nothing for a couple of weeks and seeing if you get better.  If you don't, then you go get it checked out.  Besides, antibiotics all have nasty side effects which are worse than the sinus infection.  The last time I did a course, I had nightmares every night.  The previous time I felt like I was going to crap my pants since the antibiotics kill the bad and good bacteria.

I'm not really sure what the solution is.  A lot of Europe seems to be doing ok with socialized medicine, but Americans are pretty reluctant to embrace that system.  They fear the waits will be longer (is that possible?) and that health care will be rationed.  Guess what, Sparky?  That's already done except now it's done by the insurance companies (we won't pay for that procedure) rather than the government.  The end result is still the same.

I just know that no one should die just because they're broke and that the system needs a major overhaul.

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