Tell Your Story

I invite anybody and everybody to share their health care stories. Share stories of good doctors with amazing clinical expertise who give the time and care that most patients crave. Share stories of people living without health insurance. Share stories of medical errors or of the miracles of medicine. Please share. I would love to read the stories, and when appropriate, discuss issues that might arise.


8 responses to “Tell Your Story

  1. As one of the deep-pocketed citizens whose taxes will inevitably pay a disproportionate share of any universal health care program, I must confess that those who lament the plight of the uninsured don’t tug at my heartstrings.

    It’s estimated that two-thirds of our undocumented immigrants and their off-spring are without health care insurance. That’s eight million of the estimated 47 million uninsured residents. Sorry, no tears for lawbreakers.

    And it’s estimated that 68% of health care costs are generated by lifestyle choices: overeating, lack of exercise, smoking, unprotected sex, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. I’m aware that expectations of personal responsibility are politically incorrect in this era of self-declared victimization but the plight of these 26 million folks don’t get my eyes misty either.

    Another group, estimated at fifteen percent of the uninsured, are able to afford coverage but choose not to purchase it because they perceive themselves to be immortal and/or prefer to spend their money on iPods. I hope no one’s suggesting that I get choked up over these numskulls.

    So now the scope of the problem of uninsureds in America has been cut by almost 80 percent. And if you want to provide me with an emotionally compelling reason for warming up to universal health care or any other plan for which I’ll foot the bill, please start by limiting your discussion to the eleven million uninsured residents who may be truly deserving of my sympathy.

  2. Bob,

    Thanks for starting off this section. I assume that your story consists of having good health care, most likely through your employer, and being angry to have to pay for others. The redistribution of wealth that is needed for a universal health care system is large and probably is the main obstacle for such a system. Thank you for starting this discussion. I plan to post on both who the uninsured are and about the necessary redistribution of wealth. Further, I will talk about how currently we are already paying for others in very significant ways.

    I hope more will follow with their health care stories. Wink. Wink.

  3. Thanks, lpaul. Yes, the redistribution of wealth is a big issue for me. I worked hard to acquire the wealth necessary to make my family self-reliant. And the injustice of assuming responsibility for the irresponsible, the self-indulgent, the law breaking and the lazy members of society sticks in my craw as well. For example, why should anyone in society be expected to lift a finger to help someone who knowingly polluted their body with cigarette smoke or illegal drugs. My ex-wife had a prior spouse who damaged his heart by snorting cocaine. The state paid for not one, but TWO, heart transplants. Far better to have let him die on the street and used that money for providing health care to the minority of uninsureds that I characterized in my submittal as deserving.

    If we are to start treating health care as a God-given right, it should only be done with the stipulation that assumes God only gives it to those who will use it responsibly.

  4. Paying for a heart transplant for a drug addict, a liver transplant for an alcoholic, even lung cancer treatment for an active smoker is a questionable use of public funds. These examples are at one end of the health care coverage spectrum. On the other end, I would argue is health care for children. Surely they have not done anything yet that would make them irresponsible enough. Yet, there are over 8 million children without insurance of some form. Would you deny them coverage even if it meant a further redistribution of wealth?

    Please look at my posts titled, “An Unfair Starting Line,” if you haven’t already. I also would ask that we continue this discussion on my main page under “An Unfair Starting Line,” or “Society’s Moral Obligation?” Both would be appropriate for this discussion. I would like to leave this board open for other health care stories.

  5. A few months ago I watched the Michael Moore documentary “Sicko” on pay-per-view with my mother while we were vacationing together. Shortly after returning home we rented it through Netflix and I watched it again with my wife. Moore is without a doubt a flaming liberal activist and the “Sicko” documentary is definitely propaganda for socialized health care in America.

    However, Moore’s film made three points which hit home with me:
    1. The big health care insurance companies are ripping us off.
    2. The pharmaceutical companies are ripping us off.
    3. American doctors are getting paid to keep us sick rather than to make us well.

    The third point was quite frightening to me. We go to the doctor because we are sick and we think they are going to make us well. If you think about it, though, if you are well you don’t go to the doctor except for periodic physical examinations. However, if you get a really bad disease, they’ve got ya!

    I was diagnosed last year with Stage 2 hypertension. My blood pressure was 190/120. The doctor told me that I should start taking a pill immediately and stop drinking caffeine and reduce salt. He explained that I had a really bad disease and was going to have a stroke and kidney failure if I didn’t get it under control immediately. He wanted me to return in a week (because I had this really bad disease). The next week he added another pill. I have good health insurance, BlueCross/BlueShield. The first pill cost $25 per month and the second one cost $75 per month at Wal-Mart, after the insurance paid their part. When I saw the monthly price tag for the $75 blood pressure pill, I said the F word out loud in the middle of Wal-Mart. “I have good insurance, how could a pill cost $75 per month?” I thought.

    A couple of days after my second visit, the doctor’s office called me saying I needed to come in to get my lab results from the first visit. I told them I didn’t want to drive the 50 mile round trip; they could give me the results on the phone. No, I had to make a third appointment to get my results. This time I found out that I had a second really bad disease, Type II diabetes. My blood sugar was 195. I was prescribed another pill. Two weeks later I returned to the doctor and he doubled the dosage for the diabetes pill, this one only cost $5 per month for the generic at Wal-Mart. The good news was that the second more expensive pill for blood pressure was almost doing the trick, my blood pressure was down significantly. He added a diuretic to the $75 per month pill.

    A month later I returned to the doctor and that pesky blood sugar was still up there. So he gave me a second prescription for that. The good news was that my blood pressure was normal now with only two pills per day that only cost $100 per month. Imagine how I felt when I found that this new diabetes medicine was $100 per month after my good insurance paid their part? I was better prepared, though, and didn’t say the F word aloud this time.

    Two more months went by and my blood sugar was still too high. I had seen that Michael Moore film and I was fretting over it. I found out that Actos, that $100 per month diabetes medicine was made in Japan (bad thing to me). My wife had come home from the beauty shop and said that her stylist was diabetic and she said she couldn’t drink orange juice. So I tried not drinking my big glass of orange juice every day. My blood sugar went way down. Now that Michael Moore idea of the doctors being paid to keep you sick was really sinking in!

    I went to a different doctor. I explained that I had asked the first doctor three times to give me a diet plan and he never did. I explained that I had taken the first doctor a list of everything I was eating and it included the orange juice and that when I stopped drinking a big glass of orange juice every day my blood sugar dropped immediately. I explained that I wanted to try to control my terrible diseases without taking a fist full of expensive medicines I explained that I was shopping for a doctor who was interested in working with me to make me well, NOT KEEP ME SICK! I explained that I didn’t want to take that $100 per month, made in Japan pill! So he told me to try not taking the pill.

    I have added some exercise to my health plan – not going to the gym, but working outside in the yard. My blood sugar is near normal now and I am only taking the $5 per month pill. The way things were going with the first doctor, I was getting ready for a third expensive pill and I was still sick. Maybe Americans should take matters into their own hands? Maybe Americans should get their health care advice at the beauty shop instead of the doctor’s office? God forbid that screaming liberal Michael Moore could be right!

    So what about Mr. Moore’s idea that the pharmaceutical companies are buying off government officials to keep the cost of medicines high? Now that I’ve decided that one of Mr. Moore’s ideas could be right, about the doctors keeping us sick, I decided to follow up on the pharmaceutical angle. I asked the second doctor about getting my medication from Mexico or Canada. He gave me 90 day prescriptions and told me to give it a try.

    Remember that pill that was $75 per month at Wal-Mart after my good BlueCross/BlueShield insurance paid their part? I got a package from Israel with the same medication. I ordered from a Canadian company and they had the medication (which is made in Switzerland) shipped through Israel. Now we love Wal-Mart because they buy in bulk and cut out middle men. But I ordered from Canada, they ordered from Israel, who got the pill from Switzerland – add an extra middle man. I was paying $2.50 per pill buying the Swiss drug from Wal-Mart, and I paid $1.29 per pill when ordered through the Canadian company with the extra middle man and NOT using my good insurance – just buying direct! How can I get my medicine for half price without insurance from foreign countries? Is this a conspiracy of the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, or the U. S. government?

    Was Mr. Moore right about the pharmaceutical companies ripping us off and buying off our politicians? Was he right about the health care insurance companies? Is he right that we would be better off with socialized medicine? I do know that I never got any preventative medical literature from BlueCross until they started paying out a little for my health care!

    I am 45 years old. If I live to be 75 and save $150 or more per month on medicine (not counting extra stuff if the doctor can keep me sick), how much have I saved? If the American taxpayers were paying half price or less for all the medication for citizens on Medicare and Medicaid, how close would we be to balancing the budget? If we had socialized medicine and the doctors were paid to keep us well and practiced preventative medicine rather than prescribing pills, would I have terrible diseases that made the doctor want me to come visit every month or two? If I did, would they be as bad?

    For years I have said that it’s a shame that middle income, working Americans are not able to afford to take their children to the doctor when they are sick. I still believe this, although it’s heresy for a good Republican to think about such a thing as socialized medicine. Ask yourself – who’s getting rich from our health care system and who’s staying sick from our health care system? The truth might surprise you…

  6. Geary,

    Thanks for your comments! You’ve raised a lot of interesting topics. But foremost it sounds like you had a bad doctor. That was your biggest problem, but it is also true that money gets paid for services rendered and pills bought, not for diet control, exercise, counseling, or what we call “cognitive medicine.” The incentives in our current system our misguided. One example before I sign off – if patients are consistently moving in and out of health plans as they change jobs, move, or their employer changes plans then what incentive does a health plan have to promote preventive medicine when the payoff is many years down the road. This is just one example. There are many examples of misguided incentives.

  7. You are right, Lucas. For years I had insurance with Aetna and was never encouraged by that company to pursue any preventative medicine – not so much as a card sent in the mail saying I should go in for a physical. The same is true with BlueCross/BlueShield – until after the diagnosis. Now they have sent literature and questionnaires and have a program which provides the services of a Registered Nurse on the phone.

    The insurance companies (and physicians and pharmaceutical companies) are businesses, so the more money they take without spending any money, the greater their margin of profit. I don’t mind companies making a profit, it’s the American way. But in areas like education and a person’s health, there should be issues greater than profit.

    When I first visited the second doctor I spent over 30 minutes visiting with him. Everyone I talk to is taken aback that a physician would actually spend that much time with a patient one-on-one. Why? When I had my house leveled I spent 30 minutes talking with the contractor and we would spend that much time with any professional with whom we are planning to do a good bit of business – carpenter, car sales person, attorney, or electrician. Why do we feel like in America we should wait for an hour in the waiting room for our 5 or 10 minutes with our physician, when we expect the plumber to show up at our house and it’s ok to talk to the plumber for half an hour? Sounds stupid, but I think healthcare is more important than remodeling the bathroom.

    With socialized medicine, the incentives would be to make people well and keep them well – or help keep them well to begin with. I understand that in England the doctors are paid a bonus by the government when their patients develop healthier habits such as lowering cholesterol, losing weight, or stopping smoking. I believe that developing healthier life styles and using preventative medicine should be where the medical incentives are focused, rather than the profit margin on a spreadsheet.

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