Our privileged politicians

Are our elected representatives better than those who elected them?

The answer seems to be an obvious one. Yes, they must be! At least they think they’re privileged.

Why else would our political leaders force the rest of us to contribute our hard earned dollars to pay for their health insurance/care, while we are forced to go without health insurance, or forced to purchase it on our own with whatever money we have left after paying for the health insurance/care of our political leaders.

And why is that so? Is it the constitution that grants our political leaders privileged status? I sure couldn’t find it in there.

So then why should the rest of us have to go without health insurance, foregoing needed care, or even face bankruptcy trying to pay for the care we do receive, while our political leaders face none of those same concerns?

And why is it our political leaders only talk about cutting health care/insurance [and social security] for the rest of us, while excluding themselves from the same cuts.

It’s high time the rest of us stood up and demanded we get the same treatment our leaders get, and everyone whose salaries we pay.

I believe it was the Declaration of Independence which declared

all men are created equal

A headline for the ages

CANCELLED SURGERIES COSTING HOSPITALS MILLIONS

From Anesthesiology News:

Between patient no-shows and cancellations on the day of surgery, hospitals are losing millions in revenue each year, researchers have found…….

Astonishing isn’t it! I might have even been appalled if I weren’t so disgusted.

Nowhere in the article is there any discussion of the possible harm to patients due to missed surgeries. Nowhere is there any discussion of why patients may have cancelled, e.g. cost to the patient in terms of missed work and/or lost wages.

Based on this article it would appear the only ones suffering here and risking harm are the health care providers.

For me, this article simply further highlight how inadequate our health care system is, and how distorted our value system has become in this country, when lost “opportunity costs” (profit) is what’s on the mind of health care providers the most.

But then again, a fee-for-service, for-profit health care system was never meant to promote concern for the patient!

What do you think of your health care?

If you’re one of the 27% of Americans defined as having had a serious illness, medical condition, injury, or disability requiring a lot of medical care, or who had been hospitalized overnight in the past 12 months, you probably don’t think very highly of it.

In a poll conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR, and Harvard School of Public Health, of those 27% of Americans

…… more than 40 percent say that the cost of their medical care over the last 12 months has caused a “very serious” (20%) or “somewhat serious” (23%) problem for their or their family’s finances. …………One in six sick Americans say that there was a time in the past 12 months when they could not get the medical care they needed (17%). Among the sick Americans who could not receive care, 52 percent report that it was because they could not afford the needed care, and 24 percent say it was because their insurers would not pay for it. Lastly, about one in ten sick Americans (11%) report being turned away by a doctor or hospital for financial or insurance reasons at some time during the past 12 months when they tried to receive care.

Not only that, but many of those respondents also complained of quality of care issues,

  • ……..about one in eight sick Americans believe they were given the wrong diagnosis, treatment, or test (13%).
  • About a quarter of sick Americans say that their condition was not well-managed (26%).
  • A quarter of sick Americans report that a doctor, nurse, or other health professional did not provide all the needed information about their treatment or prescriptions (25%) – or they had to see multiple medical professionals, and no single doctor understood or kept track of all the different aspects of their medical issues and treatments (23%).
  • Three in 10 hospitalized Americans say there was poor communication among the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals involved in their care (30%).
  • About one in six sick Americans believe they did not get the tests they thought they needed (18%) [I find that hard to believe], while 15 percent of sick Americans surveyed were tested or treated for something they believed to be unnecessary. [That I can easily believe.]
  • Nearly three-quarters of sick Americans say they want their doctor to spend time with them discussing other, broader health issues that might affect their long-term health (72%), as opposed to just talking about their specific medical problem (21%). [Like that’s ever going to happen, in a time of continually reducing reimbursements!]

Shocked! You should be, but then again, maybe not. I wasn’t. For-profit health care has never been about the patient. It’s only about profit, and how to maximize it.

Someday we will come to that realization, as those numbers increase [and they surely will], but how bad do the numbers have to get, and how many people have to die, or suffer needlessly before we do something about it?

A headline for the ages

CANCELLED SURGERIES COSTING HOSPITALS MILLIONS

From Anesthesiology News:

Between patient no-shows and cancellations on the day of surgery, hospitals are losing millions in revenue each year, researchers have found…….

Astonishing isn’t it! I might have even been appalled if I weren’t so disgusted.

Nowhere in the article is there any discussion of the possible harm to patients due to missed surgeries. Nowhere is there any discussion of why patients may have cancelled, e.g. cost to the patient in terms of missed work and/or lost wages.

Based on this article it would appear the only ones suffering here and risking harm are the health care providers.

For me, this article simply further highlights, how inadequate our health care system is, and how distorted our value system has become in this country, when lost “opportunity costs” (profit) override the health considerations of individual patients.

But that’s what for-profit, fee-for-service health care is all about!

It’s not called for-profit health care for nothing!

I’ve been told on occasion by a doctor friend of mine, when I’ve informed him how lousy I’m feeling, that I should take an anti-depressant. Well, for those of you who don’t know me, I have always staunchly refused to do so, not because I didn’t think they worked (I really couldn’t say one way or the other), but because I felt it wasn’t necessary, could do more harm than good, and I could deal with such feelings better without them.

And after watching last nights 60 Minutes, I feel vindicated in that belief. There now appears to be some evidence not only supporting my belief, but also casting doubts on the efficacy of anti-depressant drugs.

But why this should come as a surprise to anyone is beyond me.

I have always preached on the ineffectiveness of vitamins and supplements, and how you can’t boost your immune system. I’ve always believed it is simply a scam perpetrated by the vitamin and supplement industry to separate you from your hard earned money.Everything you need to maintain proper health and nutrition is available in it’s natural state.

So why should drugs be any different?

In a ‘for-profit’ health care system, with so much money involved, and so much time to bring new drugs to market, there will always be the incentive to skew results in the pharmaceutical industry’s favor, highlighting the good results, and sweeping the bad results under the carpet.

So it’s not surprising, the pharmaceutical industry is fighting tooth and nail to dispel the [compelling] research of Dr. Kirsch, after all this is an $11.3 billion industry, and could put a serious crimp in the profits of the pharmaceutical industry. But regardless of the final outcome, this should be a wake up call, and a learning lesson to everyone.

BE SKEPTICAL OF EVERYTHING! (And not just in the health care arena.) Don’t be fooled by special interests, who appear authentic and concerned, but are truly only looking out for their best interests, and their bottom lines.

The Downside to Canadian Health Care

Can it really be called a downside?

According to Joseph M. Connors, MD, Clinical Professor and Director of the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for Lymphoid Cancer, Vancouver, British Columbia, in an article in the ASCO Post, the downside to Canadian health care is

We [the Canadian health care system] don’t get to give patients treatments unless they have proven benefit, so we have an entire system devoted to examining what evidence justifies which treatments…….

……….I [Dr. Conners] cannot give a drug without evidence-based proof that the drug has efficacy and works better than the less-costly alternatives in the particular disease I’m treating. So the drawback to a centralized system is that it constrains innovative behavior, is resistant to change, and is slow to introduce new approaches. The system waits for adequate evidence before moving ahead…….

Well, I’m not so sure I’d categorize that as a downside, and neither do I believe it constrains innovation.

Just because something is new, and may have shown efficacy in a petri dish, or even in a stage 1 trial, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be effective when given to humans. And let’s not forget about potential side effects of rushing treatments to market. You only have to look at drugs such as Thalidomide, and more recently Avastin, to recognize the flaw in that thinking.

And besides, isn’t that what clinical trials are for? Something else Canadians and Europeans have far greater access to than those in the US, that is unless you

have adequate coverage or can pay out of pocket

(But then again, why would you invest in a costly clinical trial, with an uncertain outcome, if off label use is making you money?)

I don’t know about everyone else, but if that’s the only downside to Canadian health care, I’m willing to take my chances!

Repeal the EMTALA?

I want to know why the Republican candidates for President, and Republicans in Congress aren’t addressing the The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)

Anyone who objects to the federal government mandating the purchase of health insurance (Republicans), sure should certainly be objecting to the federal government forcing private businesses to give away their products and services for free.

But that’s exactly what the EMTALA does. It forces health care providers to provide health care to anyone in an emergency situation, regardless of their ability to pay.

We would never think of requiring Safeway, or Kroger to provide free food to anyone. Neither would we require Ford or General Motors to provide free cars to anyone. So why do we require doctors and hospitals to provide free health care?

Now I admit to being a bleeding heart liberal, who considers health care a right, distributed according to need, rather than a privilege, distributed according to the ability to pay, but even I disagree with this law. [There shouldn’t be a need for it!]

But since the latter is how we choose to treat health care (as a privilege), then we need to address the inequities of a law that singles out one business, and forces that business to give away its services.

If nothing else, opening a dialogue on this topic should, once and for all, clearly define the type of country the US is, and the direction this country wants to take for the future.