Living with American healthcare
Best fix: No corporate hospitals or clinics. Independent doctors only, with public references. No CEOs or other non-medical administrators. Complete public disclosure of costs for both hospitals and more minor procedures.
This reminds me of my son's experience when he was visiting us. (He lives in Texas, I am in North Carolina.) He began to have some very bad pain in his side and back. His wife had no idea how to get to a hospital, so I drove the two of them. There, my son paced back and forth in excruciating pain for several hours. He could not get comfortable either sitting or standing. We asked several times at the reception desk if he could be seen soon, as he was in agony. Finally, we decided to take him to another hospital. Lo and behold, when we informed them we were leaving, they were suddenly able to take him back to be examined. He needed gall bladder surgery. I am still angry when I think about how many people went back before him, seemingly with minor problems; certainly not in obvious pain. No one cared.
I don't live in America, but in Canada instead, but I wanted to share my experience with our healthcare as I feel there is a huge misconception in the world about how "amazing" it is.
I am bipolar, but that diagnosis was only given after 15 years of misdiagnosis and being an involuntary guinea pig for greedy doctors who perscribed me insane medications. I trusted them, I had no choice. The antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, mood stabilizers and antidepressant salads I was given for years never worked, they always made me worse, but they just gave me more and more meds. Multiple doctors over years. I was told the physical side effects like rapid weigh gain, twitching, and being zombified to name a few were a "benifit outweighed the cons" situation, though its funny how no one seemed to ever care about my opinion of that.
Obviously the medications were terrible for me and often resulted in my having emergency room hospital trips for suicidal thoughts or self harm or just a general psychotic break. I would wait for 8 to 10 hours sometimes in emergency for some white coat doctor to ask me some questions about my mental state and then always, ALWAYS, they would dismiss me and send me on my way. They would tell me I "didnt seem suicidal" and that they weren't to concerned about me. I would beg them to keep me there for further assessment, for help, for anything, as I was terrified of myself, and they would say they only keep people who are "actually a danger to themselves". I have a strong will to live apparently, and even when ever cell in my body wanted to die, and i would always manage to find a way to hold on for another day. But I often wondered how many people were turned away, like me, but couldn't hold on.... and how many people even know they had gone to the hospital for help first only to be turned away?
Unfortunately, one fateful day, I couldn't hold on anymore and I did attempt to take my life. I went to the hospital in an ambulance, they stitched me up, and then they sent me home. Yep, thats right. I cut my wrists so deeply i needed stitches and they didnt feel I was at risk enough apparently to keep there for further assessment. I was flabbergasted. Oh, and lets not forget the wait periods to see a psychiatrist. Were talking years sometimes.
Our country has an opioid crisis. Mental health issues are running rampant. People are dying by their own hand every day. And our political leaders are more concerned with 10 dollar-a-day day care, virtue signaling, and blaming eachother for l these issues than actually offering compassionate care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I survived my ordeal, and after my suicide attempt I finally was given a Lithium and wouldn't ya know it, I haven't had a single hospital trip since.
I can't speak for everyone of course. Not every one is bipolar and was used as a drug tester for greedy doctors, but I can say beyond a doubt that our systems are deeply broken, and I fear people die every day unnecessarily and thinking that they aren't worth the care or time of our doctors and health care systems, because quite frankly, that's how they make you feel. Like you're a burden.
Anyways, thanks for reading!
The demise of the American health care system was totally avoidable.
An overview of the Greek system. https://healthmanagement.org/c/imaging/issuearticle/an-overview-of-the-healthcare-system-in-greece-1
Fixing the U.S. system is a tricky one. The greek and euro systems seem to often combine a socialized NHS component with private insurance. The U.S. has something similar with Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance but it is a big messy ball. We also have 50 state regulations on top of federal. If I were to start somewhere it would be to blow up all regulations to get more innovation and competition and start over. There are just too many vested interests to get any meaningful change. Which brings us back to the fact that our government is hopelessly broken.
Our family uses a faith based health care sharing service instead of insurance. Our experience in the American health care system is much closer to your friends Greek experience. The lightening of the medical staffs countenances when we tell them we are cash pay is very noticeable. Generally, we pay a bill and before the credit card payment is due, fellow sharing members pay us the refund in multiple little checks..and often also attach get well notes and cards. Gone are mountains of “insurance” paperwork and the headache they cause to the medical establishment. I helped my wife through cancer with this and found better, cheaper doctors that did not work in hospitals that were happy to have us. The United States has far too much liability induced fear in its institutions. This has created mountains of paperwork. Our system eliminates much of that..and our doctors felt freer to use the protocols they thought best. BTW- I bet that the “free” hospital would have been a very different experience with more than a “little” more of a wait. Social medicine is not the answer, especially with the controls organizations like the WHO have over these government organizations.
I was working in Nigeria for an oil company when my wife developed Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Making a long story about arguing with the insurance company short, we air-ambulanced her to South Africa for medical care. It was great. The care was great, and after being in the hospital for about a week, her bill was the equivalent of ~$3,000 US.
One of the ironies is I wanted to take her to Europe. The insurance company argued, a jet to Europe would be almost $100k, the limits of the policy. There wouldn't be any money left for her care when she arrived.
Later, when I'm telling this story to Europeans, they laughingly said, "Why did you want to bring her to Europe? She got better care in South Africa. " And I see now, they were right.
The AMA is run by the medical mafia. Shoot them all. It's a start.
Until COVID I trusted our Canadian health care system, though I had a few less than positive experiences with my first oncologist. My family doctor has been amazing for over 15 years. He even, off the record, recommended against the jab. I was so relieved but sad that he couldn't be more open.
My daughter-in-law was a nurse until last fall when she had to make the decision between the jab or her job. She'd been getting increasingly disillusioned with the medical system. Several years ago her hospital fired the floor secretaries, saying that the nurses could answer the phone and do all the paperwork. Fast forward a couple of more years and the hospital fired all of the LPNs, saying that minimum wage "techs" could do the LPNs job. Wasn't uncommon after this for my daughter-in-law to come home upset because her tech would only work with a certain number of patients then sit the rest of shift at the nurses station. Eventually her 12 hour shift became 14 or 15 because she didn't have time to chart until after her shift was over. She was a compassionate nurse who cared but was burned out.
I think the medical system has many issues like too many regulations, insurance companies controlling treatment, burned out staff, and too much pharmaceutical company influence. Those who work in the system could list many more.
If one drives around the US and is paying attention, one notices the absolute explosion in brand new, increasingly large, “healthcare” facilities. And more and more specialized “institutes” that promise super high expertise in leading edge “procedures”.
The underlying assumption in the US is that everyone is Ill or afflicted with a multitude of diseases/conditions, all requiring multiple drugs and ultimately specialized “treatment or procedures”
Go into a CVS in a relatively small town and take a look at the thousands of prescriptions filling up the bins.
Clearly, there is so much money in our “healthcare” system that they literally don’t know what to do with it.
Little known secret. Use an Urgent Care in the US. 1/10th the cost of an emergency room. Rented ebikes in Newport Beach, CA. Front tire came off my son's bike leaving him in a heap. Once the tire stopped rolling 100 yards away, he was left with a gash on his chin. You know it is bad when the second comment out of witness' mouth after "is he ok" is... "Oh that's going to need stitches." Being insured by Kaiser, we were dreading the ER experience. We found an Urgent Care in the area, but after 30 minutes and a newbie doctor saying it's too deep, she said she could not handle it and ER was required. Glad she declined it, not being confident in her ability. We researched another Advance Urgent Care. This was where the A team resides. Receptionist was awesome, said she had seen a lot of traumas come through that office and if there is no neurosurgery required or major vascular involvement, they can take care of it. If they can't, no charge. Cool sign me up. Got there after a 20 minute ride, checked in, in a room in 5 minutes, 3 of us, no masks...doctor walks in, she looks at the gaping wound and manipulates it to assess the damage like it wasn't her first rodeo and says, "Get the prep tray I got this". Wow, she was a stud!!!! Stitched it up, in and out in 40 minutes with care and follow up instructions. $400 out the door. Amazing service and beyond reasonable for minor surgery. Guarantee Kaiser ER would have done the same (maybe) for $5000, my out of pocket (partial) deductible. Total deductible is $7500 before they start to pay a dime.
Urgent Care name: Med Hero San Clemente CA True Professionals.
It's worse than just the cost. You need physician level expertise to navigate the US system, and it often bites you anyway. Here is an example from psychiatry, the most corrupt medical specialty: https://robertyoho.substack.com/p/0fba8cfa-8434-4996-be22-0fefe3c0c306
For related material, see https://robertyoho.substack.com/p/antidepressants-are-the-root-cause#details
My youngest child has special needs and needed to be seen in the emergency room. She cannot say much and particularly not when she is in pain or discomfort. We went to a children's hospital in Westchester NY, where I was repeatedly asked what was her pain level- I said it was high as she needed a catheterization (but when they asked her she obviously could not answer), but they continually let in other kids who were clearly not in great discomfort. When we went to the bathroom, they literally erased her name from the waiting list and after every other child was let in but her, they said, they were too full and I would need to be patient. Well, that was when I began to talk very loudly about "discrimination" against children with special needs and needing to see a supervisor. (At this point we had been over 6 hours in the waiting room). After getting into the back area, we waited another 2.5 hours without seeing a single person. We ended up not needing the catheterization because she suddenly could urinate after more than 28 hours had passed. But I left a lengthy complaint letter (literally, a child with a scratched knee got in)and I think I managed to get children with special needs to be triaged slightly differently. Just because they aren't crying out in pain doesn't mean they aren't suffering.
I think the only way we will ever begin to scratch the surface will be if all hospitals are forced to publish ALL (every procedure, every item) of their prices online. I know Trump had an order requiring this, but most hospitals have the prices hidden on their websites or tell you to call for a price.
Sad, awful truth is that in the US today the majority of hospitals are owned either by giant corporations or (more recent development) giant private equity funds. There is also a hot trend for Emergency "Provider" groups to be bought out by large private equity funds. Both corporations and equity funds have fiduciary duty only to their investors. This helps to explain the replacement of ER physicians with Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants (cheaper), along with paring overall staffing down as far as they can get away with legally. Most minor things treated by NPs and PAs do just fine, but I shudder to think of NP or PA management of major medical or trauma cases without having an experienced physician for backup. I've seen it evolve before my eyes (I'm a retired ER physician with 30 years full time experience in high volume ERs). The American people are being used as cash cows, with no real options till maybe after the fact, trying to negotiate an exorbitant bill down to something realistic (good luck). Your story about the injured knee and treatment via private physicians/hospitals holds the key to bringing American medicine back down to earth, but the corporations and private equity funds play hardball and have made it exceedingly difficult for private practitioners. Majority of physicians have had their practices bought out by giant corporate hospitals/private equity funds, and they become "employees" rather than independent professionals. They discover that they must "follow the narrative, follow the algorithms" or be out of a job and maybe rendered unimployable. That's a big part of the reason so many physicians stayed silent or just went along with the fatally flawed "vaccine"/lockdown regime. I'm retired now, but just doing a little light part time work doing mostly physicals, and don't care if I get fired at this point. We got a taste of "single payor" with the vaccine mandates, and a bigger vicarious taste of "single payor" medicine witnessing the outrageous new reality in Canada during and after the truckers' protest. Don't fall for "single payor". If "single payor" enacted, only a matter of time till rigid algorithms will be imposed, including "ineligibility" for this or that treatment with no chance of appeal.
The right to die could ever-so-easily become "duty to die". I could write more, but this is enough.
...teared up when reading about the frog... so well written... so relatable... shocking relatable... even though or maybe just because I see a lot who do not have the courage to go through the open door and work hard to find freedom, friends and health... will read the next chapter of your story now...