The Best Doctor In The World…

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“Best doctor in the world is a veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what’s the matter. He’s just got to know.” – Will Rogers

This quote from Will came to mind recently while my wife was going to doctors trying to determine the cause of her recent ailments. In the last couple of months, she has had three emergency room visits, two of them by ambulance.  We were in the ER practically all day each time. They racked up over $14,000 in tests and billing for their time and still can’t determine the cause for her symptoms.  They just say “if it happens again, come back and we will try to figure it out.”

But at least the $14K bill was reduced to a little over $4,000 by Medicare with our out of pocket around $200.  Thank heaven for Medicare.  Maybe they will find what’s wrong the next time… but I’m not holding my breath. 🙂

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The Thing About Socialism..

2017-12-10_09-14-12.pngSocialized medicine seems to be dirty words for many of my RedAmerica friends. To them, it and communism are one and the same thing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Since there seems to be nothing in this world that isn’t a simple black or white to them, I’m not sure they will ever accept any other definition but that doesn’t stop me from trying to show you how the rest of us should see socialized medicine.

The purpose of this post is to tell you a little about other country’s versions of medical care so that you can decide whether they are evil or maybe that is a prejudice that some need to overcome.

To begin with, it’s worth pointing out that the single-payer system is hardly a step towards “socialism,” as Mr. Graham claims. The United Kingdom, Canada and Germany — all countries with different forms of universal health care — are safe bastions of capitalism.

2017-12-10_09-15-32.pngSecondly, the U.S. has the most inefficient medical system in the world, based on health care spending and outcomes. America spends much more on healthcare per capita than any other nation in the world and gets less health for it.

The differences are not trivial at all. The median per capita spending on health care in wealthy countries is $4,700 per year, according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (That means that half of the countries spent more than that and half spent less). For instance, Canada‘s spending was just at the level of the median. In contrast, the U.S. spent more than twice as much, at $9,900 for every man, woman and child.If we had Canada’s system we could save no less than $13,600 per average household. That adds up to a walloping $1.7 trillion dollars for the U.S., about as much as last year‘s after-tax profits of all U.S. corporations combined.

Source: PBS Newshour 9/23

It is a well-known truth that our medical system is the most expensive in the world and only mediocre when it comes to results. So, why don’t we look at what the rest of the world does to make their’s less expensive and more effective? There is a myriad of examples of how it can be done better. But to my RedAmerica friends, they are all socialism in sheep’s clothing and to be avoided at all costs.  But, what my RedAmerica friends don’t seem to understand is that almost half of us are already in socialized medicine plans.

Medicare, Medicaid, and veteran’s benefits are all systems that are run by our government and in most cases more efficiently than the private sector alternatives. And if our RedAmerica congress would just allow it, they could see even lower costs more by using their size to bargain down the cost of our prescription drugs.  It really wouldn’t take that much to move the rest of the country to this system and finally get a hold of our ever spiraling medical expenses.

I truly believe that someday we will go this route, but right now I just don’t know what it will take for RedAmerica to swallow this very effective pill??

 

Medicare For All… It Just Makes Sense

Medicare is a system that has been in place for 50+ years. Its approval rating is well above any competition and it keeps the costs of healthcare down. Paperwork which drowns the private sector insurance is very well managed to less than half in Medicare.

mountain-660023_640.jpgSo, why should we be experimenting with other often radical solutions to our healthcare network in the U.S.?  I will admit that Obamacare was far from perfect. For one thing, it depends on the whim of private for-profit carriers. They say privatizing healthcare will spur competition and therefore reduce costs but that just isn’t happening.  TrumpCare, which is at least dead for now, wasn’t any better and seemed to be skewed towards giving the wealthy more tax breaks and abandoning care for millions now covered under Medicaid.

Why should we experiment with very risky systems when we have a time-proven system that does very well? It just makes sense to make Medicare for all of us. Can even Medicare be improved, of course it can. There is too much fraud that could fairly easily be prevented if we just allowed it to happen.  Having a law that prevents Medicare from getting discounts in the prescription drug market defies common sense.

Let’s expand a proven track winner and make it for all of us. We could then join the rest of the world in providing healthcare for all our citizens as a right, not a privilege of only those who can afford it. It would also relieve that burden from our business so that they can more effectively compete with foreign competitors. It just makes sense.

I don’t know what it will take to get all those in the beltway loony bin to understand this idea? But whatever it takes we need to work hard to make it happen. The sooner, the better.

It just makes sense…

 

My Personal Experience with Brain Trauma – Part 3

Before the surgery, I really had no idea who Dr. P was or what he looked like. (I am not using his full name here as I don’t have permission from him and don’t want to intrude on his privacy). Looking at him when he delivered the good post-surgery news I discovered he was a sixty-year-old or so guy with white hair and a neatly trimmed mustache. He came in a couple more times that day to check on me. When my wife was not there to sign for me he always grabbed the paper and pencil to give me a “normal” conversation and that is very unusual for a doctor to do. Most of the time they almost refuse to write things down for me, let alone chitchat. I don’t know why but doctors are especially bad at that, but not this one. Dr. P went out of his way to treat me like one of his friends.

I also noticed that he was wearing jeans and a regular shirt. I later found out that he was one of the most popular of the 350 doctors with the staff at my hospital. He never wears a tie or suit and drives an old pickup truck! He is unlike any other doctor I have ever had. You would never guess that he was a brain surgeon but instead maybe a farmer! It turns out that he also did the brain surgery of a good friend of mine who helps me around the homestead and like me, he simply loves Dr. P. I look forward to seeing him in the future for follow-up recuperation appointments.

Sam, short for Samatha, was my critical care daytime RN for the two days I was in that part of the hospital. We spent quite a bit of time together and I felt I got to know her pretty well. She is a “traveling RN”, that is she moves around the country working in one hospital then another. Her last stint was in Alaska. She works three twelve hour shifts in the CCU and then has the rest of the week off to explore. She is a millennial who shuns high heels and makeup but has a very natural beauty that quickly shines through. She says she wants to be known for what she does, not what she puts on her body. With people like her in charge of the future of our country, I feel confident that it is in good hands indeed.  I met a kindred spirit in Sam those two days but she was not the only one.

Keli, the night RN was very different from Sam but just as confident in her abilities to take care of herself. Being deaf, I seem to be able to draw out people with their family stories of adversity and her father has his share. He is my age and facing a very difficult time in his life. I tried to give some moral support.

I interacted with perhaps a dozen different people and every one of them was friendly and very good at their jobs  My hospital might not be the biggest one in the area but in my opinion, it is the best. The road ahead for me is not going to be particularly easy but with their support, I will handle whatever comes toward me.

I left out some interesting stories about my stay but I think that is enough for now.  I”m sure in the future I will be filling in some holes in this dramatic experience.

Off To The Operating Room For Brain Surgery

My Personal Experience with  Brain Trauma – Part 2

In the last post, I left off just before my consult with a brain surgeon. When the ER doctor told me I had a chronic brain bleed because of my fall that scared me more than I have been in a long time.  When the surgeon told me he needed to go in and fix it and to relieve the pressure, my life didn’t flash before my eyes but I was thinking this could be the end. After I agreed to the surgery I started thinking about what if these were my last hours?

I told my wife I didn’t want to scare her too much but here is the password for my computer if you need to get into anything financial.  I have paid all the bills and have for some time and since she is seven years older than me it was just assumed that she would go first so she didn’t need to know the details. From this lesson, I learned that we need to be prepared for any circumstance so in the coming days I will be laying out what is where and what needs to be done if I can’t do it.

2017-03-10_18-28-33.pngIt was about 1:30 pm when I signed the consent forms and then a couple of people came in to start IV lines. I soon discovered that one of them was an RN but the other was a  trainee. Long story short, I think they give all us seniors as practice cushions for those who haven’t learned about veins and such as this guy struggled with finding a place to put the needle. When he actually tried to insert it his hands were shaking. After several failed attempt the teacher finally took over and two IVs were in place.

As I was about to go into the operating room at 3:00 pm I told them that I have a prostate problem and my bladder would likely lock up so I suggested they put in a catheter while in the operating room to take care of that. The people taking me in kind of nodded agreement. Then it was off to the cold sterile room to be cut for the first time.  I saw several scrub nurses and the anesthesiologist but didn’t see the surgeon before I was put under. I said a quick prayer and then was out.

Of course, it seemed like I then woke immediately up with several people hovering over me mouthing words which of course I couldn’t understand. At first, I thought, “is this what heaven is like?” but quickly lost that thought and realized I had made it through the surgery. I laid in post-op it seemed like an hour or more and then it was off to a Critical Care room. Dr. P., my hero of the day, was there pretty quickly saying that everything went well and all the bleeding was taken care of and now it was on to a month-long recuperation period.

People of Faith For Resistance..

There seems to be many opportunities cropping up on this first day of a new administration for resistance to draconian change they intend for our democracy in the upcoming years. I am particularly happy to see Christians in this mode. No, not all Christians are among the 81% of Evangelicals who pushed the current administration in office.  In reality they are a small percentage of that community.

One of those orgs on the forefront of resistance is Sojourners.  Here are some words in a recent email from them.

The GOP plans for a juggernaut of action very quickly to gut many of the social programs now in place including:

  • Affordable healthcare
  • Medicaid for the poor
  • Medicare for senior citizens
  • Social Security for present and future seniors

They say they are privatizing them to make them more efficient but the reality is quite different.  It will take a mammoth effort similar to what happened when they tried to eliminate the House Ethics Overlook.  Concerned citizens need to stay active to prevent them accomplishing their intent of undoing these and many other programs.

I am not particularly promoting Sojourners, but they are a good cause, in so much as encouraging you to join the resistance in whatever form you prefer.

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GOD SAVE OUR COUNTRY….