Frustrated Physician

Srah - West Lafayette, Indiana
Entered on April 30, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that my kids are no more entitled to healthcare than the kids of our waiter last night. However, as the children of a physician, they certainly are more likely to receive it. I believe that it should be my choice as a primary care physician to determine what the best medication is for my patients, not the insurance companies. I believe that Medicare D is a complete failure and I believe that all lawmakers who supported it should be ashamed. No…better yet I believe that all those lawmakers should have to use it – and on an average fixed senior income.

I’m frustrated, that is for sure. I started medical school full of excitement for all the good I would do and the care I would give. Now, only 3 years out of residency, I feel jaded and fed up. I still want to be that optimistic and enthusiastic doctor but I am faced with harsh reality. The reality that HOURS of my day, and even more of my staff’s time, are spent arguing with insurance companies. That with every prescription I write I do not have the luxury of considering only what is best for my patient. I have to first consider whether or not they will be able to get it filled. For virtually all non-generic medications that I prescribe, I have to put through a “prior authorization” even if there is no generic alternative. This basically means my staff and I have to call, write, or often both to the insurance companies, defending the choice of medicine and convincing them that there is no cheaper alternative. Does this sound like a good use of my medical education? I would argue – no- and it is costly to the system in the time wasted.

How many times do I have to spend the short 15 minutes I get with a patient comforting them as they cry because they cannot pay for their medicines? They are now in the “doughnut hole,” and that means that they have to wait until the end of the year to but any more medicine OR choose to go without food or electricity. Just try to get patient assistance from the drug companies post medicare –D. Forget it! The drug companies can and will deny it, as they say the “patient has coverage with medicare D” even though while in the doughnut hole this is not true.

I believe in Healthcare for everyone. I also know this will not be easy. The focus of a single payer system will have to be prevention. This will go deeper than just doctors, hospital and medicine. In order to make people healthier we will have to spend some healthcare dollars to supplement fresh fruit and vegetables. I believe that it is easy to understand why someone making $8 an hour chooses a twinkie over an apple. The twinkie is a heck of a lot cheaper.

I believe that people are going to have to be accountable for some minimum care for themselves, if they are cognitively able. If patients are unwilling to take responsibility for themselves there has to be consequences which might have to include loss of health care. This will be a difficult and heated ethical debate, but one that has to be argued.

My point is simple – educate yourselves. Understand the issue and be part of a voice for change. It is going to be difficult but we can and must make a change. Read candidates platforms on healthcare. We, your primary care physicians are out here wanting to help. I believe it is everyone’s job to ensure we can.