Those of you who have read my stuff for any length of time know of my ongoing frustration with the medical industry. I need to blow off some more steam about it. This is not a political post, though. While it is my belief that if the government gets involved in health care any more than it already is, they’ll screw it up even more, I’m not going to get into that here. The present state of affairs in provider-patient relationships at issue here, not how it got to where it is.
Why do we accept being pushed around by the health care industry? Others providing services to us could never get away with the arrogance and lack of basic business courtesy. (Well, except for home repair and remodeling contractors. They don’t seem to give a damn, either.) I believe that our system promotes this type of behavior. For most Americans, health insurance comes from the employer, who pays most of the premium. Doctors and hospitals bill the insurance company, not us as individuals. Thus, in many cases, health care providers view the insurance companies and the government (in the case of Medicare patients) as the customer, and patients as transport devices for the all-important insurance or Medicare card (check out Medicare Benefits). This is not true of all practices, but it is certainly an easy rut to slip into for many of them.
With that buildup, you have to be thinking that I have been annoyed beyond the breaking point by some egregious sin committed by a doctor or treatment facility. Well, two things got on my nerves this week. Taken individually, or perhaps even together, they seem like the type of minor annoyances that most of us routinely accommodate — just because that’s the way it is. Again, I ask, why do we tolerate it?