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( msmaileann )

Comments made by msmaileann

The High Cost of Health Care (Part 5)

As an academic physician I consider myself lucky that my salary is not dependent on how many patients I see. Thus I am allowed 30-60 min per patient and so am able to address most of my patient's needs and thus have great job satisfaction (granted I am paid 3-4 times less than my counterparts). I think universal health care is vital (and possible) for our country especially as our baby boomers mature. Although for it to truly work, I think Americans in general will need to undergo a change in their healthcare expectiations.

With the government more involved with healthcare decisions, healthcare will change. The limited resources that currently exist (cancer treatments, organ transplants, dialysis machines, and even primary care physicians) will become more limited. Hopefully this will encourage physicians to make medical decisions soley based on a patient's need vs the current occassional practice of ordering tests and procedures out of fear of being sued, or at the request of patients (there probably needs to be legislation regarding malpractice suits for this practically to happen).

However if that happens gone will be the practices of dialyzing 85 year olds, or keeping comatose patients with no chance of meaningful recovery alive for decades. On a simpler level it will also mean no antibiotics for a simple cold, less and possibly delayed referrals to specialty care, even shorter visits with your primary care doctor (think about the addition of another 50 million people into the system without an increase in the doctors that can see them) as well as other practices that we as Americans expect out of our healthcare today.

Whether or not one considers these changes a positive or negative thing is determined by the expectations of the individual. There are numerous countries around the world who already have a system like this and in general most seem pretty satisfied. However, we live in a unique culture and I wonder will we be able to similarly adapt?

August 7, 2009 at 2:50 p.m. ( | suggest removal )