Great Good News About Healthcare


Colorado Springs, Colorado

Comrades!  I have great good news!  Soon, everyone will have health insurance!  Access to health care is, after all, one of your basic human rights according to someone, somewhere and publicly endorsed by the always loquacious and eager to articulate anonymous source.

There is unfortunately however, how do you say . . . yes.  There is however, an unfortunate insect in the borscht.  Err, I mean fly in the soup . . . no doctors.

Yes, that’s right.  We’ve all got or will get, health insurance.  Affordable health insurance too.  But there’s a looming, about to-blow-up time bomb.  A massive wave of retirements from baby boom doctors combined with the already critical lack of internists (family doctors) is going to make the US healthcare system look like that of the old USSR.  You know, the Don’t worry dahlinks, the soviet system makes us all equal.  Equally poor.

Why do I posit this?

Because I went in for my annual physical today.  Only now it’s a “Wellness Check” and there is nothing physical about it — more on that later.  I didn’t get to see my usual physician either.  That’s because he quit six weeks ago, to “Follow my passion for cardio care.  Good luck and God Bless.”  according to the form letter I, and his 2,499 other patients received on July 10.  His last day was July 15th.  See ya later alligator.  Have a nice life.

Its the second time in ten years this has happened to me.  My wife, June has had the same pleasure three times over the same period.  And there’s no end in sight.

Tony, the PA who did my wellness check told me several interesting facts about the medical group.  The practice has by my estimate, ten to twelve thousand patients.  At present, after retirements and defections, there are no male doctors, and only four female M.D.’s still on staff, all part-time, all married to other medical doctors, all caregivers for their children and families first, patients second.  Case in point; June, who has her own full-time job and family, has had three appointments for physical exams broken at the last minute by her female, part-time, uncaring, so-called family physician.  Tony, the Physicians Assistant, is the only full-time medical practitioner in the place.  It used to take five to six months to get an appointment for a physical, back when they had more staff . . . I can’t wait to see what it’ll take next year.

Why are doctors quitting, going into other specialties or setting up exclusive practices?

Because internists get a higher percentage of older people who are forced into the Medicare system than other practitioners.  Over the past ten years, the government has cut payments to doctors for Medicare by almost 50 percent.  They’re essentially working for half-pay.  Now, by fiat, the federal agencies are cutting back an additional 30 percent

. . . another third of their payments . . . while at the same time, the doctors expenses (like everyone else’s) are rising.  Would you be willing to work for thirty-five cents on the dollar, a sixty-five percent pay cut from your wages ten years ago?  Me neither.

Oh, and by the way, the officers who run the medical practice where June and I go have been trying to hire more doctors.  They’ve had four agencies hunting for three years without success.  There’s simply no takers at the salaries being offered.

And hey . . . don’t think this is just “an old dude problem” because all of you young belles and buckaroos will be facing the same problem in a few years.  The clock keeps going, no matter what.  It never stops.  We all age day-by-day.