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.