Originally created 09/06/98

Praises health-care delivery system, hits payment system 090698 - The Augusta Chronicle

Six years ago I had the misfortune of having a heart attack, but the good fortune of living in the country having the greatest medical system in the world.

Everything about the system worked, from the off-duty policeman who came to my aid and di-rected others in various tasks, to the emergency medical technician in the ambulance who did a fine job of keeping my spirits up, the emergency room personnel who administered the drugs to dissolve the clot and keep me alive and, finally, the doctors and nurses who did their very best to fix my problem.

I am alive today in living testimony that the delivery of medical care in this country works quite well. Almost anywhere else on the planet, I would have died lying beside my car.

While in the hospital, I watched on TV as the country was told by the Clintons that health care in this country was broken and we needed a national heath care plan. The press signed on, as did the Congress.

The American public was told that the sky was falling, that we needed radically fewer specialists, medical care to be more needed to be "business-like" and maybe we would have to lose the right to choose our doctor. "Billary-care" was defeated by the weight of public opinion, but the insurance companies saw a good thing and quietly started offering their clients a choice of traditional plans at higher rates and lower-cost HMO plans.

This time the pocketbook spoke. Saving money is good, nobody understands the language of the insurance plans anyway and, besides, doctors make far too much money so the heck with them.

Like sheep to the slaughter, the people of this country were led to accept basically what the Clintons wanted in the first case.

It's too bad that you can't see the doctor of your choice because he isn't on your list, and some clerk in Indiana rather than your doctor decides if your treatment was justified; and did you call for permission to take your child to the emergency room when she fell and gashed her head?

People pay $5 for their prescriptions and think their insurance is paying the pharmacy the balance of what it would have gotten anyway. Actually, the pharmacy is taking a huge loss which can only be made up by increasing the volume of prescriptions filled in the same amount of time.

The independent pharmacy is all but dead, having been bought out by the big chains because they need all the prescriptions they can get in order to meet the bottom line. Overworked pharmacists are making mistakes. What a bargain your $5 bought for yourself! ...

The payment for, not the delivery of, health care services should have been the topic of debate. Destroying the doctor-client relationship is not the answer. We have killed the wrong monster, and the real problem still remains to be dealt with.

W. Dewey Kitchens, DMD, Grovetown


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