Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Health Care

One of the things I don't like about getting older is that everybody I know is more than willing to share their health problems with the world. I am including myself in this category because I have posted about the health issues my wife and I are encountering as we age. I don't generally bring our health issues up in everyday conversations but it is almost impossible not to get drawn into the subject of health and health care when more than 3 people over 50 years of age are conversing.

The primary subject I talk about in discussions about health and related issues has to do with the health care system and how I think we have an excellent system in this country. Having worked as an executive in the pharmaceutical industery and having worked for several foriegn owned companies, I had the opportunity to see the inside of several European health care systems. England, Germany and Italy are the countries I had the best opportunities to see and compared to our system, they ain't pretty.

Yesterday I went to a urologist because I am a kidney stone manufacturing factory. I almost always have one in progress and have passed as many as one a week on occassion. Fortunately, I have developed a high resistance to pain and have been able to live a normal life. But let me tell you a fact. No matter how many kidney stones you pass, the pain is always excruiating. That is why I went to the uroligist.

The urologist sent me straight to radiology for diagnostic x rays at the local hospital where I had a wait of about 1 hour. The x rays took about 45 minutes to shoot and be reviewed by a Radiologist. The pictires were put in an envelope and I took them to the Doctor who reviewed them with me and we decided to crusd the large one (9mm X 11mm) located in the left uterer. Even I can't pass a stone that large.

I spent about 10 minutes getting information from the Doctor's assistant who scheduled me for the procedure 0n Friday the 17th. She sent me directly to the Hospital Registration where I got pre registered in about 15 minutes and went home.

The reason I am writing about this is that I believe Medi Care and Health Insurance companies are getting a bad rap. If I had been in Germany, England or Italy, it would have taken at least a month to get an appointment with a urologist. It would have taken him at least 3 weeks to get me X Rayed. It would have taken at least a week to have the x rays developed, reviewed and ready for the Doctor. It would have taken at least a month for the Urologist to see me again and decide to crush the stone. Once the decision was made, it would take as much as 8 months to get scheduled for the procedure. In other words, I would have to suffer the pain for neigh onto a year before I could get relief.

In Germany, Italy and England, it would take a year as compared to a week in the US. I simply don't understand why so many Americans think our Health Care system is sub par. There is no doubt our system can be improved and there are the enevitable horror stories you hear on the news about a screw up in a hospital or by a doctor. These things happen in Europe too.

The biggest problem with our health care system is that doctors have been forced to practice defensive medicine. Lawyers and their lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies have driven the cost of health care to astronomical levels. If people want a better health care system, they should demand tort reform and trim the lawyers sails.