American medicine: Government quackery
What’s wrong with American medicine? The answer is that what I call Monopoly Medicine – the federal government, the monster pharmaceutical companies, AMA, the medical schools and Big Insurance – have destroyed the medical profession and replaced it with the Medical Industry.
Consider some clues. During the years of the medical profession, I heard more than one physician say that the treatment can be only as good as the history. And so I remember clearly that, the first time I sat down with a doctor, he would spend more than an hour with me, one on one, taking my medical history, asking about this and that, weighing what I told him against his vast knowledge and experience. Why? Because his treatment could only be as good as his history.
Today, under the Medical Industry, there still is a history. Where does it come from? You take it yourself! In the waiting room, the receptionist hands you a clipboard with a form, and you check off various things. Because you are not a doctor, you know nothing more than that. You have no medical intuition or experience.
You just check the boxes, which you know how to do if you have ever ordered fast food or applied for a job, etc. You hand over the clipboard and after a while a nurse calls your name and takes you to a room where you wait some more. No problem. You are a patient.
The door opens. The doctor comes in. You know he’s the doctor because he is wearing a long white coat with his name sewn on the pocket in blue script and a stethoscope around his neck. He is holding the clipboard. He looks at the clipboard to see who you are. “Ah, yes, Mrs. Joe Shmo, from Kokomo.” He quickly looks down the history, the history you have taken, the boxes you have checked. He asks you some questions.
He reaches into the pocket of the long, white coat and consults a guide he got from the friendly monster pharmaceutical company. He writes a prescription for one of that company’s products. “Take these as directed, Mrs. Shmo, and let’s see what happens. Call me next Thursday, but not too early.” In another moment he is gone and you are in the elevator, the prescription in your purse. You have “seen” the doctor. Wham bam, thank you ma’am. And the paperwork you generated – the true lifeblood of the industry – is now coursing through the system.
You didn’t really need to come and see him. Think about it. The way it’s done now you could just as well have taken your “history” – checked the boxes – online, the way you order a pizza, and the doctor could just as well have emailed your prescription. You made the trip because you are still thinking of a “doctor appointment,” an element of the profession the industry has not destroyed. You made the trip because, if you did not, you could start asking questions.
As in “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” what has happened is that the industry has infiltrated and seized the profession and perverted it completely, but it preserves the profession’s appealing qualities to conceal what the perpetrator really looks like. What does it look like? What is the difference between the profession and the industry?
Notice another difference. In the medical profession, your doctor was accessible. It used to be that your family doctor was a man of considerable experience and wisdom. Patients would visit him for personal advice, sometimes on subjects totally unrelated to medicine. The doctor would sit down and talk to you, and in such a case you would not be charged for an office visit. Today, not only does the doctor no longer take your history, he talks to you as little as possible. In fact, there is a flotilla of women out front whose main job includes preventing you from talking to the doctor.
Why? The answer is M – O – N – E – Y. That palaver takes time and time is money. When the doctor took your history, it took at least an hour. How many people does the doctor see now in an hour? How many fees does he collect? The medical profession was essentially religious, a kind of ministry. That is why it was called a “profession.”
The Medical Industry excludes religion and turns the practice of medicine into a business like plumbing or new cars or real estate, except that this business is tightly controlled by the government. There is even a date on which this dramatic change was made. It was 1965, and the change was called Medicare.
What happened before Medicare if you couldn’t afford needed medical care? Because the medical profession was essentially religious, you would go to Bellevue Hospital, where the same physicians, the best in New York City, who had made hefty fees that morning treating the rich on Park Avenue, would treat you for free that afternoon. Doctors used to do that routinely; it was considered a professional obligation. Because the government has not taken over the legal profession, as it has medicine, lawyers still do the same thing when they work pro bono.
But if the government were not involved, no one could afford the astronomical price of medical treatment today! Au contraire, the fact is that medical treatment costs so much today precisely because the government controls it. Look at The Case For American Medicine: A Realistic Look at Our Health Care System, by Harry Schwartz (New York, D. McKay Co., 1973).
Schwartz was medical correspondent for the New York Times. In his book, he clearly shows with government statistics that medical costs began to rise sharply as soon as Medicare was installed, for a basic financial reason. By dumping huge amounts of cash into the medical economy, the government created inflation, and the inevitable effect of inflation is rising prices. You don’t need to be Ludwig von Mises to know that.
I should mention an important distinction. Specialties like orthopedics, surgery, ophthalmology, emergencies, and so on are the glory of American medicine. That is why people come from around the world to use them. But when you get into chronic, degenerative disease, you are mostly talking about the opposite. There, with some exceptions, you are talking about a fraud, a scam, a totalitarian horror.
And chronic, degenerative disease is the inspiration of the insane horror the Medical Industry has become. Here is just one symptom of the madness. Everywhere else, when you want to buy something, you ask the seller how much he wants. When the car dealer tells you how much he wants, you know whether you can afford his car.
Not so Medicare. You cannot find out in advance whether Medicare will pay for a procedure. At the doctor’s office, you will sign an ABN form, in which you promise to pay if Medicare won’t. The only way you can find out whether Medicare will cover the service you want is to buy it. In other words, the price is a secret. Only the federal government could run a system so crazy and not be thrown into jail. In a real sense, you are shooting medical craps.
I remember clearly that, during the profession, the first thing you were asked when you went to the doctor was, “What’s wrong?” Today, under the industry, it’s, “What insurance do you have?” Bill Cosby even made this the subject of one of his hilarious routines. By the way, a while back, in Costa Rica, I took my wife to the doctor. The first thing the doctor said was, “What’s wrong?”
In today’s medicine, you are expected to keep your trap shut, do as you are told, and submit yourself to the procedures and prescriptions dictated by Big Pharma, prescriptions for products created to cure invented “diseases” and “disorders.” My favorite is “Restless Leg Syndrome.” And because they are trained to think that way, today’s doctors pressure you to do all those things. Yes, there are heroic exceptions. I have written about them often. They operate completely outside the Medical Industry. Sadly, they are only a brave handful who risk the loss of their licenses and livelihoods.
By the way, I can cure Restless Leg Syndrome. My cure is a lot less expensive – there would be no charge for an office visit – and a lot more fun. There is also no paperwork. Grab your partner, get on some nice duds, go dancing and let’s see if those pins are still restless. Call me next Thursday, but not too early.
Today, whether you like it or not, you become a ward of the federal government when you hit 65. Of course, Medicare should be phased out, as quickly as possible, but also slow enough to honor commitments made to older people who were forced into it. Young people should be told to keep their money and arrange their own affairs.
The money will come from no more foreign aid and no more foreign wars. And think about how much cheaper medical care would be if the gargantuan government-insurance middle man were removed along with all the other fee-suckers and doctors had to compete for your patronage directly.
If we are able to start winding Medicare down, these other things would happen too. People over 65 would regain their citizenship and freedom. Yes, I know that is a pie-in-the-sky solution that would require many years of education and mind changing. Indeed, when the Clintons are reinstalled in the White House in January, 2009, they will “solve” the problem by imposing total government medicine. Everything will be “free” (and rationed). Yee Haa! Were he still with us, Henny Youngman would probably tell us the solution is, don’t get sick.
What could we do now? Because you are reading this, I know I don’t need to tell you to take control of your health. For years, Americans have done what the doctor says without thinking even once, like zombies. Those days are gone. Even the zombies are starting to ask questions. Remember that when you get away from broken bones, ophthalmology and child birth, you are no longer talking about exact science. Your doctor, like most patients, does as he is told.
Look again at the industry. The only accessible part of it is your doctor, in the few minutes you are together. Again, if the industry could arrange it so that you never saw your doctor at all, it would. You “see” him only to preserve the fiction that the medical profession survives. So, the doctor is the Medical Industry’s Achilles heel. The doctor is the one you must confront.
Please understand that I mean nothing personal. I am not talking about the heroic exceptions. Your doctor may be genuinely humane. But we are talking practicality here. We are talking grass roots, about a military campaign. You have to get the doctor’s attention. You may have to cause him pain upside the head. It can be done. I have just enjoyed the intense pleasure of telling a doctor who would not accommodate me to go to Hell. Try it yourself.
A couple of examples. Women made the doctors change from the stirrups in the delivery room to the “alternative birth center.” Women made the doctors change from the radical mastectomy to the lumpectomy. Now we need a bigger change, a “sea change.” And by the way, as a commentator I am of course completely non-partisan, but the only candidate I see in either party who would do the necessary job to restore the medical profession is handsome, charming, urbane, sympathetic and brilliant ladies’ doctor Ron Paul, M.D.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”