I read a very interesting article on rising health care costs a while ago in the AARP Magazine (which I'll link to at the end). It makes several different points about factors that make health care expensive. But one really made me stop and think. I've drawn no conclusions because I am among the culprits of this particular expense.
Being a person of the female persuasion, I've read my share of "women's magazines". In that these magazines set out to demean us if we don't have the current crop of trendy goo gahs in a size fit for Auschwitz survivors and further terrify us with tales of big bad corporate America ripping us off because we have vagina's, I have decided to subscribe only to art magazines for the rest of my woefully untrendy life. Ah, this is a subject for another day… Anyway, in my wayward youth of women's magazine perusal, there was usually an article outlining the horrors someone went through with the health care system, usually with a male doctor patting the woman on the head and saying, well, we'll keep an eye on that potentially fatal bump on your boob, bleeding from the nether regions that's lasted 6 months, etc. So, consequently, when my body is doing or extruding something it shouldn't, I expect to have as many tests as possible as soon as possible. For instance, at my last physical, my doctor detected a small lump on my breast. I have fibrous breasts so I wasn't too worried, however, if she hadn't scheduled an ultrasound that very day, I would have felt nervous at not having this dealt with right away. That wait and see attitude from back in the day is not acceptable to us enlightened women's magazine readers.
Well, it turns out that doctors are ordering as many tests as possible as soon as possible because if they don't and the patient goes to another doctor who does and finds something serious, Doctor Weenie gets shafted with huge malpractice problems. So, doctors seem to be damned if they do (resulting in high medical costs for tests that aren't strictly necessary) and damned if they don't (resulting in malpractice insurance and payouts up the ying yang). And folks like me expect this treatment now, for fear of not detecting something serious in a timely fashion. Doesn't this seem like a vicious circle? Sadly, it's a vicious circle I'm not willing to break because I'm so not into that wait and see thing.
As I said, no conclusions here. We live in a time when medical science can save the lives of people who would have died 40, 30, even 10 years ago because we have the ability now to detect the bad stuff earlier. If I can even come close to a conclusion, it's that the way we deal with health care in this country needs to be changed. We have excellent models in England and Canada to base a new era of health care on, but we also have big ass lobbyists who don't want their power and big bucks to decrease, even if it means better health for an entire nation. To paraphrase Barack Obama, it's time we take responsibility for our woes and demand the change we want.