How in free America would it be possible for a married couple to save up hundreds of thousands of dollars for retirement and then lose it all in a month's time? One way is if they encounter medical problems. Sky high medical costs in America are the biggest threat to a family's retirement savings.
Here are some ideas for fixing the medical care industry in America, without socializing medicine.
1. We need to require medical schools and nursing schools to accept every American student with a reasonable GPA. Pre-med students and nursing students are being turned down by the thousands. They are being denied entrance to medical school and to nursing school. Once there is an increase in the supply of doctors and nurses the prices will come down. We need have a policy of "no medical or nursing student left behind!"
2. We need to loosen the grip doctors have on medicine. Nurses ought to be able to prescribe medicines for colds and other common ailments. Technicians such as ultrasound and MRI specialists ought to be able to interpret their findings without the supervision of a doctor. It is so frustrating to go receive an ultrasound and then be told by the technician that they can not tell me the results and that the doctor will contact me. And in every instance the doctor has never contacted me.
3. We need to create new specialists that are capable of practicing medicine in their specialty and where it doesn't take 10 years to become trained. These new specialists would be specialized nurses or technicians and they would be able to prescribe tests and medicines.
4. We need to pass a law that hospitals can only be for non-profit. I believe this is the way it was 50 years ago. Hospitals should not be in the business of making money. Hospitals should be in the business of helping people. Outlaw for-profit hospitals.
5. Allow self-directed medicine. With the internet and with the level of education in America it makes sense to allow informed well educated adults to order their own tests for self-diagnosis.
Here is my personal experience with the medical care industry. I have been trying for five years to find the cause of a constant pain in my right side. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars and have gone to ten doctors and not one has ever bothered to ask me to take my shirt off and press their fingers around where my pain is to try and determine the source of the pain.
They all simply order tests and MRI's and ultrasounds and then they do not follow up properly. Not one doctor has ever asked me to come in for a follow-up visit after the MRI's and CT scans. I've had 3 MRI's 2 CT scans and 5 ultrasounds, one colonoscopy, 2 endoscopies, 2 procedures where they put a TV camera up through the urinary canal to look at the bladder and kidney, and scores of blood tests in the past five years.
I have found that to go to a specialist I have to go first to a GP or internal medicine doctor. And then when I go to a specialist they are not capable of diagnosing the problem in a meaningful way. Instead they order several tests and then, after the tests, their nurse suggests I you go to some other type of doctor. And when I thought maybe the pain was from my back I found I was turned down by most back surgeons because I am self-pay.
On another occasion I asked the gastrointestinal specialist to please include in his diagnosis the necessary tests to determine if I had a "gastro intestinal stromal tumor" - a form of cancer. While he acknowledged what I said he never followed up at all on my request and in fact after the expensive series of tests he ordered for me, he never followed up on them either. It seems the doctors like to make their money from the expensive tests and the do not follow up on them.
I suspect my problem, is a gal-bladder problem or appendicitis, but I guess it will have to go to the emergency room before a doctor will care enough to actually try and help in a meaningful way.
In defense of doctors, a friend of mine who's sister married a young doctor recently told me his wife's husband is strapped with $300,000.00 of debt from medical school loans. With such a high cost of entry into medicine, it is no wonder doctors are so driven to make money.
But by teaching technicians a specialty in 2 to 5 years instead of 10 years (for doctors), and allowing them to practice that specialty, we can cut the costs of education needed to practice medicine and cut the cost of medical care and improve the quality of medical care.
Recently someone else told me that students take pre-med in America and then go to a foreign country to become a doctor and then come back to practice medicine in America. Wouldn't it be better to revamp the medical education system in America instead of leaving the education of our doctors to foreign countries where we have no control over the quality of their education?
There is no reason why an ultrasound technician should not be able to interpret the results of an ultrasound. There is no reason why a nurse should not be able to swab the throat of a patient and based on lab results prescribe medicine for strep throat.
If we could just loosen the grip doctors have on prescriptions, return hospitals to non-profit organizations, and stop turning away medical and nursing students, we would drastically lower the costs of medical care and drastically improve the quality of medical care.
And with well educated people and with the internet as a research tool doctors serve very little to help and in many cases are only an obstacle to a speedy diagnosis and correct treatment. Self-diagnosis for the educated should be allowed.
Comment by: Old Site
Date: 2/9/2013 7:49:24 PM
A reader says ... I agree--what is this doing here?
Editor: Sorry it was misclassified.
A reader says ... Why is it that when we take our animals to the Vet he only charges us $20 plus $6.00 to dehorn. He didn't charge anything to cut abscesses out of the cows leg and neck and very little for other things too. Why can't doctors charge less too? I think doctors need a little competition. If people had choices then maybe they would charge reasonable rates.
A reader says ... This is so ignorant that I give up!
A reader says ... P.S. The lab tech does not need to be competent. The lab equipment or a computer program can automatically print out a prescription or suggest the next step to take, based on the results of the lab test from the swab of the patient's throat. That is almost what the lab tests I've seen do today. They give you the normal range and then tell you if you are out of range and they make suggestions of what to do.
A reader says ... I'm sorry but I have been to too many incompetent doctors. They spend about 2 minutes with you and then you pay $120.00. No system could be any worse that what I have experienced. Why can't we have the freedom to choose between the two? Are you afraid of letting people make their own choices when it comes to health care? Sure you can go to the doctor, but for me? Why can't I go to a lab and then decide where to go next. I research things far better than my doctor does. And when I asked my Gastrointestinal Specialist doctor to check to see if I had a "gastrointestinal stromal tumor", he acknowledged he heard me but then never did anything. If we had choices then maybe the doctors would start caring about their patients. Since they have long waiting lists of several months and so there is no competition they can be incompetent and get away with it. We need choices!
A reader says ... And what if your "cold" is a major life threatening disease the lab tech is not adequately trained to recognize and wrong tests are ordered. It is not this simple. Period. As soon as the government does not regulate the power of the pen in healthcare and people start having complications a great outcry will demand they do so.
A reader says ... When I have gone to the doctor with a cold, they simply perscribe an antibiotic based on looking, not based on lab results. I think being able to go straight to the lab would be much better. That way you would be sure to get good care. When you go to the doctor there is no guarantee they will do a culture and give you good care. So I like the idea of self-directed medical care. You would still use the advise of experts (the lab) but the medical care would be at a reasonable price.
A reader says ... For example, when I have a cold why not let me go to a lab and have them take a culture of my throat and then if it comes back that I have a bacterial infection, why not let them recommend a medicine based on the lab results, and then let me go to the drug store and buy medicine? Why do we need a doctor?
A reader says ... Greed is the reason our healthcare system robs our population. Government regulation is the tool they use to keep control of their racket. I agree it is time to deregulate medicine and allow competition. Allow people to make choices. We are an educated society and we don't need the government propping up an incompetent medical system. Let us buy medicine when we need it instead of having to pay a doctor $120.00 to get a perscription. That is highway robbery.
A reader says ... In that case, the writer while well intended, truly knows so little about healthcare and its generation that one, while considering these proposals should honestly have equal faith in and sense less danger from relying on Santa Claus. Indeed, this is a brutally honest reply, but some of these ideas are down right dangerous. The real answer to health care resides in people getting off their corporate fat butts, doing what they know is right and taking responsibility for their own actions and needs. Those who absolutely can't should be attended to by the Christian community. My observation of the American people is that, while I love them, they are becoming more ignorant, fatters and far less willing to be responsible for their own lives. Best quality healthcare requires the sharpest minds, solid foundational educations and experience. There is no quick fix or collectivist answer for this. There are places in the world that adhere to the standards outlined here and all their patients able to do so flee to the good ol USA for care.
A reader says ... What is this doing here?
Editor: This was submitted under the "Social and Political Issues" writing category. This category currently includes "Marraige Humor" writings which we will be separating this weekend. This web site wants to offer writing categories for all areas of life - romance, spiritual, health, parenting, and even political and social issues.