Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Over the last few months, I have been spending much time going to doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and laboratories; following-up on medical prescriptions for myself and others.
You know, you can tell a lot about a nation and their people by how they care for their old, infirm and disabled. I have to say, my own experiences have been mixed, happy and at times very, very disappointing. Too often, our care system falls far short of the mark of providing timely care for their patients.
• Paying the Bill Redundancy. In my own case I have 2 insurances that I pay for; these are not free. These include Medicare and a supplemental plan that I carried over with my pension. Even with 2 insurances that I pay for, I still have to pay out of pocket for many services. That’s 3 billing efforts/record keeping systems: Medicare, United Healthcare and my own record keeping that includes follow-up calls and money forwarded. Wouldn’t it be easier just to have one fee, covered by an enrollment cost that pays for everything medically necessary? This would do away with 3 billing/record keeping efforts; saving hundreds of millions per year.
• Payment Before Treatment. One of the first things requested when you go to your doctor is your insurance card, and information about how you are paying for the bill. This is instead of seeing the patient first and getting treatment; keep in mind, you are sick, cannot think straight and their first priority: how are you paying for this treatment?
• What is Covered? I cannot get certain laboratory tests, medicines, or ancillary treatments because neither of my insurances will pay for them. I have to go out-of-pocket; paying thousands in addition to paying for 2 insurances that are not cheap. Often, I wait hours at a lab because they are understaffed and I have to go to this provider, because they take my insurance.
• Insurance Companies Dictate Care. Friends with life threatening conditions are routinely denied follow-up tests like MRI and Pet- Scans because physicians know or do not want to prescribe, because insurances will not pay for them. Meanwhile, physicians know they are necessary more frequently, particularly, in the case of cancers. In a very real sense, people’s lives are being affected because insurance companies do not want to pay more than they deem necessary.
• Much Talk/No Action. Meanwhile, all of this has been going on for decades; and little has been done about it. There has been a lot of talking and complaining about these problems, but nothing really has been done. We are clearly a nation, where the rich get richer, at the expense of their brothers and sisters.
• Medical Champions. Many medical providers are honest, work hard, and try to help their patients; but all too often our medical system falls far short of the mark. For too many, it is all about making money instead of making healthy people; sadly, too many have gone to the Dark Side and there are few Luke Skywalkers out there to use The Force/Light.
When they write the obituary for this nation; much will be said about our own self-destruction. We were given much and over the years our promise was a beacon for millions; yet, it was our greed which destroyed us. We did not realize, in time, that only a nation with a heart endures. Those corporate and medical entities that made greed (money/power) their God were on a destructive path; over the years, America with its capitalistic religion replaced love and caring with a dollar sign.
Yes, I fear that the balance has been lost and there is little time to restore it.
Personally, I think we need to go to a one fee system. Where all medical needs are covered by an enrollment cost and this system, in part, is monitored by a series of patient review boards.
Ultimately, consumers and their families should be in charge of this system; not governments, insurance, drug, or medical companies. Perhaps then, decisions will be made by those people who are most affected, and we can return to helping each other reach higher.
A nation that was founded on spiritual principles and personal freedoms; shall again heal and return to its spiritual center, recapturing its own heart and soul.
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