Saturday, June 8, 2013

According to our government, our healthcare system as it exists is completely broken and needs to be reconfigured and controlled by the same people who currently operate the IRS and the Postal Service. I realize that no amount of common sense will alter the minds of people currently benefitting from government largesse i.e. transfer of wealth, however for we the responsible grownups who pay the bill, I would like to share a recent experience. Let me add that I am not against helping people who are in genuine need of assistance through no fault of their own. We have Medicaid providing help, hospitals providing service for which they will never be reimbursed and likewise medical professionals. I do believe however that it is incumbent upon everyone to provide their own healthcare. When given the choice of big screen TVs, fancy cell phones etc. or medical insurance, it becomes a question of responsibility. Medicaid should be reserved for the truly needy and not for those simply too lazy to provide for themselves.

Several months ago my wife was diagnosed with renal cancer after extensive testing and diagnosis by our wonderful medical community. At the time her tumor was discovered, her health insurance was provided by her employer with very little monetary participation on our part. In a very short period of time the pain resulting from the bone lesions accompanying the tumor took their toll on her ability to perform her work functions and she was forced to resign her position. Your immediate thought would be that health coverage would be dropped and we would be on our own to supplement it. As a result of her employers sense of compassion and I suppose as a reward for five plus years of faithful service, this employer not only continued to supply coverage but paid for it for several months after she left her position. I know this doesn’t support the theory that all employers are out to screw their employees at every chance they get but it is nonetheless what happened and I suspect happens daily in the real world. As she is no longer employed at this company we will be converting to and paying for COBRA, allowing her to maintain the same levels of coverage until we are able to provide comparable insurance on our own. We have no expectations, nor should we, that our government will provide the necessary coverage. Why should we expect tax payers to provide our healthcare?

Our path to recovery and hopefully a cure led us to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL Here we experienced what I can only describe as the pinnacle of Patient – Provider interaction. If there ever was a group of more devoted, and caring healthcare individuals I don’t know where you will find them. From the valets who park your car upon arrival, to the experienced and specialized physicians to whom you ultimately are introduced there can be no finer. I am confident that Moffitt is not singular in the service it provides but it certainly has to rank among the top in the country. Altruism is certainly the driving force in this wonderful corporation. While undoubtedly a for-profit hospital they depend additionally on charitable donations to pursue the ultimate cure for this deadly disease.

My point is that we went from discovery, to treatment to hopefully a cure without the aid or assistance of our government. The only obstacles along the way were in fact those put in place by the government, liability insurance providers as well as the ambulance chasing attorneys who tremendously inflate the cost of doing business. This is the same government to whom we are shortly going to entrust management of our healthcare. Would they have allowed this wonderful hospital to treat her? Would they have made the reimbursement process so tedious as to discourage the great and total care they provide? Would they otherwise interfere in the treatment protocol in order to economize based on some criteria which remains unknown?

IMHO our current system needs some tweaking and adjusting but we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In order to contain costs and to allow the medical community to continue providing outstanding service; we need to work on deregulation, fraud, as well as tort reform. These are the primary drivers of our spiraling healthcare costs. We should make every attempt possible to overturn Obamacare and replace it with other more meaningful reforms. Minus government rules and regulations, the free market system is quite capable of providing us with the care we require at an affordable price.

Richard Charron