The Times They Are a-Chinging

Of the 1,600 words in Sara Solovitch’s excellent story in the Los Angeles Times today about doctors’ billing practices, one really stands out, and it isn’t even a word. Ching. The sound of the nickels and dimes doctors are squeezing from patients for the most routine and traditional of services.

Need a prescription refilled? Ching. Need a form clearing your daughter to play soccer at school? Ching. Need a copy of your X-rays for another doctor to look at? Ching. Want your e-mail answered? Ching.

Blame the doctors? They have more work to do these days and don’t get insurance payments unless they have a face-to-face office visit with a patient. Blame the insurance companies? They are largely public corporations with a duty to the bottom line.

Blame the health system? Yup. It is the shame of American enterprise that it costs more to deliver health than in any other industrial country while producing some of the worst outcomes. The solution is not shifting costs to some new sucker in the marketplace but at the polls where small change can lead to big-dollar sanity.

5 COMMENTS

  1. It may happen that one day doctors will save your life. You may feel you can never repay the hard work and dedication it took them to gain the requisite skill and knowledge to do it and the long hours directing your care.

    I have had much experience with health problems and my needs have been fully and skillfully met by my efficient non-profit health care cooperative. I belonged for many years before I became sick, and they were there to meet my needs when I did, referring me elsewhere occasionally for additional procedures.

    Apparently the cost of much needed medical research is currently included in prescription drug prices. Other countries may fund their research differently. I personally think it makes sense for the country as a whole to fund research because much remains to be learned and the payback is potentially enormous.

  2. As a technologist in the health sector I can see exactly where the money goes.

    1. Doctor’s are overpaid.

    2. Their malpractice insurance is far far too high.

    3. The lawyers who would be involved in any suit get paid far far far too much.

    If this country had any balls they would say, “$100,000/year is enough for anyone.” And any doctor, lawyer, or anything else for that matter who presumed to make a larger salary would be told to fornicate themselves.

    Doctors simply don’t know that much, arn’t that skilled, and don’t do the patient that much good to be worth the money. An intelligent person with access to the internet can find better, more detailed, and more sound medical advice than they will get in the 3 minutes and 20 seconds they may get to spend with their doctor.

    Today, the only value that a physician has is in their signature, and that is only preserved by historic precident.

    -Ian

  3. A doctor can charge whatever price he likes and one can choose to patron that doctor or not. That’s the benefit of our quasi-free economy whereupon you have the freedom to deal with people on your terms and vice-versa. If you feel there’s a strong enough market for cheap medical service, Ian, why not go into medicine yourself?

  4. Ian seems to be saying doctors don’t know that much and aren’t very good. In that case, there should be no limit at all on jury awards when an incompetent ignorant doctor kills you.

  5. “It is the shame of American enterprise that it costs more to deliver health than in any other industrial country….”

    The costs in many other countries are paid almost entirely by the taxpayer. The costs are the same, regardless of who is left with the bill…

    “…while producing some of the worst outcomes”

    Most of America’s doctors are the best in the world. This person must have gotten his information from Kevin Truduea.

    A commenter posted:
    “If this country had any balls they would say, “$100,000/year is enough for anyone.” And any doctor, lawyer, or anything else for that matter who presumed to make a larger salary would be told to fornicate themselves.”

    They tried that in other countries. It was called communism. It caused suffering on an astronomical scale…

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