Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not So Modern Medicine

On the recommendation of both my primary physician and my oncologist, I am having a colonoscopy done tomorrow morning. Most of that has to do with my age and of course the desire on my doctors part to know if the inside of my colon is behaving as well as the outside appears to be doing. The experience, however, reminds me of just how far medical science has to go to be truly advanced, in my opinion.

Some years ago I reached the conclusion that men were generally more realistic than women, because only men start each day with a razor at their throat. That idea was reinforced by the indignity of the prostate examination, and of course a colonoscopy certainly ranks right up there, the notion of a camera on a cord shoved up the rear end of the patient, who then gets to pay for the procedure in an amount similar to a cruise vacation.

I’m not inordinately concerned about the embarrassment or discomfort of the procedure, having been regularly poked, prodded, pierced, injected and so on over the last three years. But in addition to the thrills of the actual procedure, and paying for same in the kind of money that could have been used on a new television or jewelry for the wife, I get to enjoy the taste sensation of Gavilyte. Gavilyte has to be drunk the day before the procedure, a day by the way when I cannot have any solid foods. I get to drink, 8 ounces at a time, a gallon of a clear liquid which will flush out my colon. Remember what mucilage smells like? That’s what Gavilyte tastes like. Just imagine the experience of putting down a gallon of that stuff, and not being allowed to have a single bite of real food?

Of course, by tomorrow morning I may miss the Gavilyte, because after midnight I am not allowed to drink anything either. That’s especially nice in South Texas in hundred-degree heat.

So what’s the point? Three, actually. One, I feel like a mild rant and this is it. The colonoscopy is a minor but annoying procedure, but I don’t have to pretend I like it. Two, things like this remind of just how very far medical science is from being truly advanced, given the cost, inconvenience and displeasure of a test that everyone agrees is important. And three, I am likely to be irritable for a while, so I will not be blogging for a little while, in everyone’s best interest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Reasonable Discussion on Health Care

Even our Narcissist-in-Chief, Barack Obama, is showing signs of recognition that the government takeover of Health Care in the United States is strongly opposed by the people. Opposed enough that the totalitarians who tried to shove this treachery through Congress are finding their own political careers in jeopardy, which is the sole language to which they would listen. The prospect of a major shift in Congressional control in 2010 has finally convinced the political con artists to back off this abomination just a bit.

This opens the door to a more rational discussion about Health Care, what is really needed and what can really be done. There are certain ideals which each side desires, but the practical limits offer a small range of options. Even so, an opportunity now exists to arrive at a better solution, one which is realistic and which listens to the public.

There are many special interest groups in any debate about Health Care, which is no surprise given the money concerned and the number of people affected. To begin, it should be obvious that the public will not countenance government-run Health Care. The ‘single payer’ option is unacceptable and the Obama Administration had better accept that fact. However, at some point it is also necessary to accept that major changes are necessary for American Health Care to remain as effective as it is today. It seems strange, given the political indifference to the blunders of Social Security and the Income Tax Code, but for once the government is a bit ahead of the curve in seeking a reformation of the industry in Health Care.

A bit of background here, and something like full disclosure. I worked for five years in Health Care, at an independent third-party administrator of medical claims. That is, it was my job to determine if an insurance claim was valid under the terms of the insurance company’s contract with the medical provider, and – in order of priority – to protect the patient, medical provider, and insurance company’s respective rights under the network provisions. I also performed field audits to insure compliance by medical providers and facilities with their promised levels of accessibility and performance. Also, on the other side of things I am a cancer survivor and a patient at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, having been diagnosed in 2006 with pseudomyxoma peritonei, a form of abdominal cancer – specifically known as a non-carcinoid neoplasm of the appendix. My condition is treatable but not curable, and therefore I must plan on a very long term prognosis, one which is promising but at the same time a permanent condition. Consequently, I am very familiar with the needs and concerns of those patients whose conditions are rare and unlikely to be mentioned at all in a one-size-fits-all plan. I know for a fact that neither Medicare nor Medicaid would cover the treatment for my condition, and as a result a national plan built on the foundation of Medicare would be, by definition, unacceptable to me.

That said, I do think a long and detailed discussion about what is needed and how it should be paid for is a good idea. Now that Obamacare has been clearly shown to be unacceptable, it seems appropriate to suggest a better plan. That plan, I think, would best be found by considering and addressing the patients not properly covered by the present system, and by proposing, a la carte I should think, means by which the industry might move forward, such as improving the primary-care to specialist balance among professionals and allowing patients more tax benefits for making effective use of their preventive care options. But the conversation is best served by broad participation, rather than a few dictating terms to the rest.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Simple Statement

I'm going out for a while, and will be having medical tests done on Friday. So to keep it simple:

President Obama, the people say NO to your tyranny, your taxes, your oppression of dissent, and your hatred of American values and standards.

Will you, at long last, heed the will of the public?