I remember the old days. When doctors made house calls. Now, they barely make office calls. Think I’m kidding? When’s the last time you were able to call your doctor and actually speak to him or her—when it was good for you, when you had the need? Not for a long time in terms of my experience.
First of all, it’s rare that a human being even answers the phone. It’s usually a machine that has no interest whatsoever why you’re calling. “If this is a medical emergency, don’t call us. Hang up and go to an urgent care facility. If you’re unable to do that, call 911. Just know that we’re not responsible to anyone other than our malpractice carrier and you can’t count on us for anything.”
An exaggeration? Maybe a little, but not much. Most are not candid enough to include the last sentence, but pretty soon the recording won’t bother with the beginning part, “If this is a medical emergency. . . ” It’ll just begin with “Hang up. . . .” The only time you can get the machine to put a human body on the phone is if you want to make an appointment—in about three or four weeks. God forbid if you need a question answered or a prescription renewed or one of your medical records.
My doctors are fairly competent, professionally speaking. They’re even kind of nice folks on a personal level. Why else would anyone put up with their administrative mediocrity? It’s become universally acceptable to them not to return a call, let alone take one. If that used to bother them, it doesn’t seem to any longer. They rationalize that they’re too busy to do that, to discharge their ethical responsibilities. Too busy doing what? Not taking calls, that’s for sure!
They used to return calls. Why not today? What’s changed?
The superficial answer is that they’re too busy taking on more patients than they can responsibly handle. Why is that? Business that good? Nope. It’s because business is that bad. They’re seeing way too many patients because the government and the insurers have squeezed them so dry they have to do that just to make a fraction of what they were told in medical school they could expect to make.
So, ain’t it just great? Thanks to Obamacare, we all can get insurance today. But Obamacare has so prostituted the medical economic infrastructure that the insurance isn’t really worth having.
Here’s an illustrative real world experience I just had. I needed one of my prescriptions refilled because I was almost on empty and I was about to go out of town for two weeks. Called my pharmacy to get a refill. Was told my prescription had expired, but not to worry, they would contact the doctor for a new prescription. They called me back the next morning. The doctor’s office was not answering the phone—in the middle of the day! They sent a fax request to the doctor. In fact, they sent three faxes. No response to any of them.
I finally got through to the doctor by email. (She must have been worried about her malpractice exposure once there was a record that she was on notice of my need.) Her answer: “We respond only to fax requests from the pharmacy and we need a week to do so. You should have known when the existing prescription would expire. The pharmacy tells you that.”
Nope. I had the pharmacy paperwork in hand. It told me I had nine more refills. It didn’t tell me that those refills authorized by the doctor ran beyond the one-year life of the prescription, that the doctor must have been delusional when she checked off a number of refills that was meaningless. (Nor did she bat an eyelash when that was pointed out to her. I would have felt pretty foolish.) So, I asked her what I was supposed to do since my stash was about to run out and I would be out of town for two weeks. Begrudgingly, like she was outdoing Sister Teresa, she told me she’d take care of it the old fashioned way, she’d call in the new prescription to the pharmacy on the spot. Above and beyond. How sweet of her. I feel like I should send her malpractice carrier a thank you note.
I asked the doctor to please tell me the date she issues a new prescription in the future so I can keep can track of things and assure that she receives fax requests at least a week in advance of the next need for a new prescription. Nope. She won’t do that. I have to get that information from my pharmacy. Silly me, I thought my doctor was . . . my doctor.
My doctor may not be happy with her economics in today’s environment, but she’s darn lucky she’s not a lawyer. My clients would never put up with my telling them they’re there to serve me instead of the other way around.
Think I’m going to check into the local hotel. At least they offer concierge service. So much for the wisdom and value of Obamacare.
How’s it working for you? Let me know. If it’s any better for you, maybe I can sign up where you are. Lord knows it ain’t working where I am.
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