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Who Broke The American Healthcare System?

Who Broke The American Healthcare System?

Healthcare is a hot topic in the media these days. Yet, few people are satisfied with the way it is working. Many claim that the American healthcare system is broken. Patients are increasingly frustrated with finding a doctor, getting tests and medications they need, and paying for out-of-pocket expenses. Numerous doctors are disenchanted with their career choice, and burnout is a common complaint. Frequently, doctors are now looking to retire early or for alternate career paths. Treating patients has become unfulfilling for many due to administrative burdens, increasing government regulations, and overbearing insurance over-sight. Doctors fight daily to get procedures and medications covered that their patients need. Most often, the battle is with someone who is not even a doctor or has any clue about the patient. These daily battles become wearing. Additionally, doctors now have to fight on a more abundant basis to get paid for services they provided. Their incomes are stagnant or shrinking while overhead costs are soaring. Increasingly, doctors are selling out their practices and joining large groups and hospitals. “When I go in the exam room and close the door, I face my patient and am again reminded of why I became a doctor: to alleviate suffering.”   Many people look to put blame on doctors for the broken healthcare system. Yet, it has been years since doctors truly had any control over it. More often these days, doctors are treated like pawns and servants, our independence and integrity being worn away and questioned. But, who really is to blame for the broken healthcare system? 1. Commercial insurance companies who have no oversight and...

In the Political Healthcare Debate, the Patients Always Lose

The wannabe congressman appeared with his neat hair and pressed suit, a competent yet compassionate expression on his face. “The first thing I am going to do when I get to Congress is to work to repeal Obamacare,” he said, expression growing subtly angry. “I will do everything I can to give you back the care you need from those who think big government is the solution to every problem.” My wife grabbed my arm, restraining me from throwing the nearest object at the television. I cursed under my breath. No, it’s not my liberal ideology that made me react this way; I’ve had a similar reaction to ads by Democrats who demonize Republicans as uncaring religious zealots who want corporations to run society. I am a “flaming moderate,” which means that I get to sneer at the lunacy on both sides of the political aisle. I grew up surrounded by conservative ideas — and probably still lean a bit more in that direction than to the left — but my direction has moved to a comfortable place in the middle. It’s not the ideology that bugs me, it’s the use of the “us and them” approach to problem-solving. If only we could get rid of the bad people, we could make everything work. If only those people weren’t oppressing us. If only those people weren’t so lazy.  It’s the radical religious people who are the problem. It’s the liberal atheists. It’s the corporations. It’s the government. All of this makes the problem into something that isn’t the fault of the person making the accusation, conveniently taking the heat...
Jilted: We No Longer Accept Your Health Insurance

Jilted: We No Longer Accept Your Health Insurance

Dear patients on insurance company X: I am very sorry to give you the bad news: effective immediately, we are no longer providers on your medical insurance plan. I am sorry about this because many of my favorite patients are on your insurance plan. It will miss seeing you. I am also sorry because this makes your already short list of possible doctors even shorter, making it much harder for you to get good care. There is a reason there aren’t many doctors on your plan: it just doesn’t pay enough to be worth it. I suspect that some of you must feel jilted, like you just got an unexpected “Dear John” letter. I hate giving this sudden bad news; I’ve been with many of you for more than 10 years, walking alongside of you through sickness and pain, births and deaths, sadness and joy.  But what I hate the most is that all of this is happening because of money; it makes me feel selfish or petty. Please believe that we did everything we could to avoid this situation. Here are the things that drove us to this hard decision: 1. Your insurance was already paying us significantly less than average, and now wants to pay us even less. 2. Your insurance also requires us to do far more paperwork than most. 3. Their referral process is very complicated and frustrating. As a primary care doctor, I make my living by what I get paid for office visits.  We don’t do a lot of procedures, we don’t see people in the hospital, and we don’t own a lab to make us...
Health Reform Reverses Drop in Medical Access, Study Says

Health Reform Reverses Drop in Medical Access, Study Says

Most Americans have experienced a decade-long decline in access to medical care that may continue to spiral downward if President Obama’s healthcare law is repealed by Congress or overturned by the Supreme Court, according to a study released this week. Published in this month’s issue of Health Affairs, the study found that access to care for Americans aged 19 to 64 significantly deteriorated between 2000 and 2010 – even among patients with private health insurance. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act targets this age group. Researchers at the nonpartisan Urban Institute found that in 2010, adults were 66% more likely to report unmet medical needs than in 2000 and 79% more likely to have unmet dental needs. Although access was worse among the uninsured, 10.2% of Americans with private insurance reported unmet medical needs by 2010. “If the key coverage provisions in the (law) are ruled unconstitutional or repealed, projections indicate that the numbers of uninsured people will grow,” the researchers wrote. They conclude that their findings suggest that eliminating the law or curtailing the coverage expansion could result in continued erosion of adults’ access to care. Full study: May 2012 Health Affairs. Physician’s Weekly wants to know…do you agree that repealing the Affordable Care act will negatively impact access to healthcare?...

The Income Divide in Healthcare

A survey of American adults indicates that 57% of those living in families that earn less than 133% of the federal poverty level were uninsured at some point in 2011. Just 12% of those living at 400% of the poverty level were uninsured during the year. Respondents who were uninsured were much less likely to report a regular source of healthcare than those who were insured. Source: The Commonwealth...
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