I visited a private practice doctor today for the first time in seven years, and I was both disappointed and, I must admit, relieved to discover that I could keep the same presumptions and observations about the medical profession now that caused me to stop consulting with doctors seven years ago.
Please note that, at least for the moment, I do not blame my present doctor for these problems. Her practice is part of a massive for profit corporation whose primary motive force is paying dividends to its shareholders. That same corporation has earned a reputation in the region for playing hardball with insurance providers, even freezing one out for several years until the insurer conceded to the corporation’s demands while also preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to use the corporations hospitals and practices.
Because my doctor’s practice is part of this corporation, her time with me or any patient is severely limited even while the corporation does not care much about its patients’ time. Corporations measure their success in metrics like patients seen per day and cost savings per procedure. Corporations mandate what a doctor does and how a doctor does it in order to ensure their bottom lines continue to impress dividend hungry investors.
I arrived a half and hour early for my appointment to fill out paperwork, but was not shown into an exam room until 25 minutes after my appointment time. I saw the doctor herself for just seven minutes–yes, I timed it–yet the entire affair took almost two hours of my time to complete. While I am, at least for the time being, satisfied with the results of my visit, it was this same kind of production line process of handling patients that caused me to abandon organized medicine the last time even though I still had a medical issue that needed to be resolved.
Now, imagine this process under government control. Have you ever stood in line at the BMV or waited at some other government office? Do you recall the attitudes and customer service of the people there? Sure, such comparisons are cliché to an extent, but they also represent what happens when some kind of service becomes part of the government bureaucracy. The government is the ultimate bean counting organization, creating endless rules, procedures, and mandates to control everything it governs, irrespective of whether any of that regulation actually helps the regulated provide the good or service in a more effective way.
The current healthcare law does nothing but mandate that everyone have insurance or face the use of government force. It does not help control costs, create a larger supply of medical professionals to see all of these new patients, ensure high quality care for any patients, or put an end to the kinds of practices used by the corporations that control medicine that got things were they are to begin with.
Instead, what we end up with is the same system we already have, now crushed under the weight of a federal mandate that does nothing more than force people to pay for something they may not even be able to afford. What we end up with is a system that will make us wish for the days when we had seven whole minutes with an actual doctor.
In the mean time, I plan to make the best of the situation I find myself in until someone makes me too mad or I just get tired of it. After all, we all die eventually whether we visit the doctor or not, and I would rather die less aggravated and outside the government’s control than under the control of a system that does nothing more than take my money and my time without results.