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

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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!

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!