Friday, March 19, 2010

America’s Health Care System – The Best in the World! …Prove It!

A while ago, President Bush and Rudolph Giuliani proclaimed America’s health care system the “best system in the world.” Are these people delusional? The World Health Organization, according to the New York Times, made the first major effort to rank the health systems of 191 nations. While France and Italy took the top two honors, the United States of America was a dismal 37th in the world. However, America leads the world as being one of the most expensive systems in the world! And, in this writer’s perspective, perhaps the most inefficient system in the world also.

A few days ago, I’ve had one of many visits to the emergency room at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier California. This was my second visit to the ER for severe neck pain which, by now, 7 doctors cannot explain the reason for the neck pain. I have already seen an emergency room physician; an urgent care physician; my primary care physician; a neurologist; three otolaryngologists (head & neck physicians); radiologist; one MRI with contrasts which reveals a distended jugular vein. To date, no one except for the radiologist looked at the MRI images. I’ve been told that I have arthritis in the neck and disk protrusion between C2 & C3 in the cervical spine. Yet, the pain is nowhere near the area where they suggest that I am having the severe pain. And nothing relieves the pain.

When I was examined by the triage nurse, I was instructed to wait in the lobby where I waited for an additional three hours to get assigned to a bed. After being put into a bed and initially examined by my nurse, I waited for an additional hour to get seen by a doctor. Four hours had elapsed before being seen by a physician! During that time, I was admitted by the admissions clerk who verified my insurance. I’ll talk about this fiasco a little later on.

Back to the incident with the medical care, I finally was attended to by a physician and then had to wait for another forty-five minutes. Then, I was rudely told by the ER physician that there was nothing he could do for me. His intent was not to treat me – not even my pain. He said that I would have to go back to my doctors to figure out what was wrong with my vocal cord paralysis and hoarseness and the disk protrusion at C2 & C3. But from his point of view, since I’ve already seen seven doctors, there was nothing else he could do. Keep in mind, I didn’t go to the ER for my problems with vocal cord paralysis or disk prolapse. I was in a lot of pain – he didn’t even bother to relieve me for my chief complaint – not even offer pain medication.

To say the least, I was not pleased and took my anger out on the nurse. If it were up to me, the CEO of this facility would have found about this poor treatment. I informed the nurse that I was a commissioner with the city and was not hesitating to using my contacts and acquaintances to bring wrath upon this precious hospital in my city. After all, my feathers were ruffled to say the least. But this would have been too kind. No, my profession as a writer is more influential than any appointed position in a municipality. The pen is mightier than the sword and far more reaching to a larger audience.

After convincing the nurse of my needs, he talked to the doctor and I had orders for medication to relieve the pain and was sent home relieved of a little pain – but, still very much angered by the doctor’s attitude. Are doctors more worried about their liability insurance rather than the oath they took when they graduated medical school? Does money really play a bigger role in determining a patient’s health needs over ethical and moral practice to treat a patient?

Talk about money issues. When the admitting clerk verified my insurance, I was told that Medicare still had an open case for an auto accident that was over a year old in Medicare’s records and showing up in the Hospital’s computer system. The clerk wanted to know if the case should be billed as an auto accident related injury in which Medicare pays through a secondary provider, or does she bill directly to Medicare. In any case, I told her that the auto accident was long settled. Medicare had no business keeping this case open and was advised long ago that the case was settled. Is Medicare that slow to respond, or are they just incompetent? Or, is this just a matter of the “public option” passing the buck.

In my opinion, we have inept medical caregivers that are too worried about liability rather than providing quality medical care. We have an insurance system that is 1) too greedy, and 2) too inefficient. In short, we have a health care system that is broken. And, this health care system is attempting to be reformed by a broken government subsidized by corporations.

What we need is total reform – not just the health care system. But we need total reform of our government, sad to say. Corporations have subsidized our legislative branch of government while our judicial branch has sold out elections to corporations. In short, we have an ineffective government that no longer serves the people by the people, but a government for corporations by corporations. Perhaps we have seen the death of democracy. Has government sold the people out?

Congressional leaders and Senators claim that we have the best health care system in the world. They are only living in Dreamland. Have them experience reality and make them pay for their own insurance private insurance coverage. Let them find out what is covered and what is not. Let them find out what it’s like to be denied coverage or denied treatment. Millions of Americans are living without health care, or even a house.

America’s health care is the best in the world? Prove it! Why isn’t health care still more affordable in the United States to millions of Americans? Why do some people get luxurious care while the majority gets such crappy care? Are men really created equal?

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