This morning I went for a routine exam at my doctor’s. He has been a good and dedicated doctor, one who has earned my trust after 25 years of efficient, accurate care.
We had a conversation I had hoped we would not have. When last I saw him, odds were good that the Supreme Court would overturn the Affordable Care Act, so I did not broach the topic of Obamacare then. Unfortunately, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts decided his own skin was more valuable than the fate of 320 million people, allowed Obamacare to stand and now we are staring down the barrel of an empty stethoscope.
So I asked him what was going to happen if something doesn’t change in November.
You won’t be able to go to your own doctor, he said. You will more likely be directed to a panel of doctors, many of whom come from other countries with less stringent medical degree requirements than we have. Many current doctors will retire, he said, but that wasn’t something he wanted to do. He loves his job.
Most medical expenses are incurred in the first month of life and the last, Dr. X said. Patients in those categories will then suffer.
Most of today’s problems with the high cost of medical care rest in the large amount of wasted, unnecessary treatments, he felt. If attention was paid to that part of medicine, the cost cutting of Obamacare wouldn’t be needed. For example, he cited a recent case he had. A woman of 85 was curled up in a fetal position and so out of it she didn’t even know where she was. Her family noted some warts that they didn’t like. They asked the doctor to remove them. Even though he would benefit from the surgery, he declined. First, he said, it might endanger the patient. She probably wouldn’t withstand the anasthesia and surgery. Secondly, she wasn’t suffering from them. Thirdly, the cost to the insurance company – which they said would cover it – would be unnecessary and besides, take up surgery theaters needed for critical patients. It’s cases like these, he said, that bleed medical costs.
This doctor then discussed the frightening prognosis for the country’s economic health. He was steeped in the facts about political events and up on the latest breaking news. He commented on the Chicago teachers strike and their demand for a 16% pay increase. He knew all the statistics concerning the economy. And he knew history.
Dr. X pointed out the country’s $16 trillion debt. He explained that if you break it down, it equals almost a billion dollars spent every hour since the birth of Christ. We will soon never be able to pay any of it back. There’s a tipping point approaching.
We both wondered how so many Americans could be oblivious and unconcerned about the mess that’s coming. There’s a train wreck headed our way, he said.
I guess most Americans believe that when it comes, they can either nimbly step aside or relax and let the government pick up the pieces when the engine flies down our tracks.
He, I and you know the patient can’t survive that.