Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On Doctors and the great health care scam

The weather is changing again from springlike back to wintery. The pressure is changing too and a storm front is coming. I knew even without checking the paper this morning or turning on the weather channel 'cause I woke up with sinus pressure and pain and clenched neck muscles. I had to take full sinus/decongestant medicine and painkillers for the headache even though I know it will adversely affect my stomach. Sigh. But, what's a person to do. Worse than the weather, I feel a rant coming on. So, duck and cover, friends.

The state of medical care in America is a farce: I suppose everyone knows that. Forget about Congress and the Senate and the President arguing endlessly about passing a health care bill. What they're proposing isn't going to fix what ails us, even if and when it passes. Premiums will continue to rise. The fat cats at the drug companies and HMO's will laugh all the way to their third vacation homes and yachts. Doctors will continue to push through their one size fits all agendas on the hapless patients who wait hours for their five minutes of being talked down to on the patient assembly line, questions unanswered, before being pushed put the door to pay for a visit that doesn't solve anything. Before the hapless patient know it, he or she is now seeing three more 'specialists' for conditions he or she may or may not have now or in the future. Money makes the world go round, world go round, world go's another drug your insurance won't cover to add to the pile you are already taking, too. Feeling nervous about it? Well, there's an expensive drug for that too.

Everybody must have a bone scan, chloresterol check, invasive screening procedures colonostopy, etc. once you reach middle age...blah blah blah...even if you have no symptoms of disease. Because you might be precancerous or pre something else dire and if you are they have a surgical procedure for that that may or may not fix you. You may live into old age even if you only have some of your parts and you will spend a whole lot of time visiting the doctors for all kinds of new ailments. But, it will keep the doctors and the HMOs and the drug companies in business. And keep the moola flowing from your bank account too, insured or not, cause you must be pre approved for even part of the cost for any visit, treatment or procedure or drug!

Now, I've been lucky most of my life. I have been pretty healthy. I don't like going to doctors and generally don't have to. However, I have developed acid reflux disorder and have been seeing doctors off and on for it now for nearly five months. It isnt getting much worse, but it isn't going away either, so I reluctantly saw a gastro specialist yesterday. I waited forty minutes past my appointment time in the gynormous waiting room of his gynormous building before being taken into the august presence of the doctor. He started out our brief visit by being what he must have supposed was entertainingly condescending of my past jobs and present vocation of writing. He informed me that he too was a teacher and was going to explain how my body worked, after snorting in my direction and asking, "Are you here because you actually expect total improvement!?" That unexpected statement caused normally verbal me to shut down in shock.

He then told me to continue my present medication and watch my diet before saying that they "always" do a test on their patients at his office with a camera down the esophagus that requires anesthesia to determine possible cancer or pre-cancer growths and if they find any they do surgery in the hospital (which he did not explain the prognosis of). Then he said since I was going to "be out" anyway he'd do a colonoscopy since all women my age should have one. He pointed out that 1 out of 100 women are at risk for colon cancer "if they are black or non Caucasion , smoke, drink, have a family history of colon cancer or are overweight." Uh, hello, I fit none of those categories...but one size fits all here, he is in business to do those costly routine tests which are not covered by my insurance since I never meet my threshold deductable.

I then brok into the monologue by saying, "What if I decide to just have the camera esophagus test at the present time and forgo the other?" After all, acid reflux is my only symptom.

He quickly stood, picked up my folder and replied coldly, "Well, you could do that but you would be extremely foolish." He then said curtly, "I will see you at the procedures," turned on his heel and left before I could say anything else. A minute later a woman came in with a bundle of consent papers for me to sign for both procedures. I refused to sign or schedule anything and left. Nobody discussed what these procedures might cost me at any time during my visit.

I drove home, simmering with anger. "That guy won't be touching this White, non drinking, non smoking, non overweight, no family history of cancer woman fore or aft," I vowed.. No how, no way.

Oh, I almost forgot. At the beginning of our brief visit, I told him I was being treated for a sinus infection with antibiotics after going to an urgent care facility. He said "No urgent care doctor is capable of diagnosing a sinus infection. You must go to an ENT specialist immediately!!" Then he recommended a friend. "He's my ENT doctor, too," he declared, as if that was a good recommendation.

Yes, America is having a health care crisis. Most Americans have bad living habits. We don't eat right, sleep well, we smoke, we drink, we don't exercise. We expect doctors to fix us because we are taught to regard them as godlike beings and we are willing to pay through the nose for it if we're able to and suffer through the medical system as it exists like lambs to the shearing pens.

Rant over! My white, non smoking, no drinking, no family history of cancer, acid refluxing body is going to go walk my three dogs.

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