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When health care was simple

Posted: 01 Dec 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:insurance? frank burge? family? outsource?

I'm an only child and my parents were married 16 years before I was born. It turned out that I was a sickly kid, so my mother sought the best pediatrician in town. His office was a two-streetcar ride from home, but worth the trip.

Years later, after the pediatrician had worked his magic, my mom felt comfortable enough to have me passed on to the family doctor. As I recall, an office visit cost a few bucks and he made house calls. My parents paid cash and my guess is there was no insurance involved. The doc had a nurse, who also did the books, paid the bills and made the appointments in addition to her nursing duties. If you needed a prescription, you went to the corner drugstore to have it filled and paid cash. Simple system.

The sickly kid is now a fat, bald septuagenarian and has a family doctor and specialists for asthma, heart, acid reflux, osteoporosis and another specialist for a disease he tells me I don't have. I also have pills or inhalers for every disorder and need a memory gooser to make sure I take this stuff on schedule. I'm a pharmaceutical company's dream.

Unlike my parents, I have company insurance and make my co-payment with a credit card. Later, I'll get a note from the insurance company telling me what it doesn't cover and I'll write a check to the doctor's outsourced billing service to cover the balance. The doc who handles the disease I don't have has two nurses and a receptionist, plus the outsourced billing service staffed with folks who spend their working day dealing with insurance companies. It's a complex system, but it keeps people employed and the insurance industry green.

When I was a youngster, there were some medical procedures that have since been banned. When I was 7, I had my tonsils zapped by X-rays. Fortunately, my thyroid still works. And I figure the asthma pills I took for years before being advised to toss them may have given me some of the ailments my specialists now treat.

But I will not live long enough to find out if the pills I'm now taking would have given me some other disease that would have funded a new specialty. Assuming the insurance companies agreed. Nutso indeed.

- Frank Burge
EE Times

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