Medicine, capitalism and gall bladders
I went in for an ultrasound to determine the cause of a persistent pain in my right side. The doctor said it would only be a couple hundred bucks. That didn’t sound too bad. I can afford that much to check in with my gall bladder for the first time in its life.
Well, the ultrasound, plus the fee to have it “read,” came to over six hundred dollars.
Several days after the ultrasound I called the diagnostic imaging center. I said to the nurse, “I haven’t heard anything. Can you tell me if I’m going to be OK?”
She laughed and told me the results were sent to my doctor. The nurse there said I would have to make an appointment and the doctor would go over everything with me at that time.
The six hundred plus dollars I just spent on the ultrasound did not include being informed of the results. This was no auto mechanic I was dealing with. Medicine is big business, and my little piggy bank is one of the business objectives.
I find it extremely odd that people know, one way or the other, if I am having serious health problems or not, and wait for me to schedule an appointment at some undetermined time in the future so I can become the last one to know.
Maybe I didn’t fall under the “need to know” category. After all, I’m just the “patient.” Doctors are on a significantly higher rung of the social “ladder” than I am. One would assume that, in any other situation, people who really care about you would let you know right away, one way or the other, if they had information about your well being that you were depending on them for. I figured my gall bladder must be fine because surely, if there was a serious problem, someone would have told me right away, especially if it meant operating on me.
So, since the people I am dealing with really care about me, my gall bladder must be hunky dory. Certainly, no doctor would withhold the fact that I had gall stones as big as charcoal and as jagged and sharp as tacks and that, if the organ wasn’t removed immediately, I would die.
I can understand medical care policies being designed so doctors and hospitals can make as much money as possible. After all, we are a capitalistic society. It’s all about money. My life is all about money too, my money. I have policies of my own.
The first diagnosis I got from my cardiologist was that I had to get a big job with a big corporation with lots of good insurance. Just what I need, a doctor’s prescription to go job hunting.
No matter how hard I try to understand, I wonder how much I really matter to the medical experts in whom I place my care. And, given my inquisitive and philosophical nature, I spent a lot of time wondering about what has become of the Hippocratic Oath. It seems that many of the policies and procedures of the major organizations we depend on for our basic needs are designed to make us pay more money every time we turn around or ask a question.
If your credit is bad, you have to pay more. People with very little money and no insurance get charged more for medical care while the insurance companies negotiate lower costs and get big breaks for those who can afford it. It’s survival of the fittest. The only way to get full medical care is to be either totally broke or have a big job with a big corporation with lots of insurance.
I called Southwest Gas to have my power bill sent to my address instead of my landlord’s. The lady took the information and said, “That will be $120.” I said, “Forget it, change it back.” She changed it back for free. What a lousy capitalist she is.
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