As always, I welcome your constructive comments and suggestions about the material on this website and how we can all be most effective in co-creating the kind of healthcare system we all want.
by Dawn J. Lipthrott
My health insurance doubled over a 2 year period because of a nationwide rate increase. In 2004 I had exceptional care by a local surgeon and then discovered that my insurance company paid her only 25% of what she billed, expecting her to accept that and not bill me. Patients are not the only victims. We all are hurt when good doctors are forced to close their practices because they are underpaid by insurance and forced to pay yearly malpractice premiums that have reached abase amount of over $150,000 - $277,000 for ob-gyns and general surgeons in Florida.
So, who is to blame? If we follow the money in this situation, it clearly is not going to my surgeon. We could say that insurance companies are to blame. We could follow the money being spent on amendments on our upcoming ballot:. doctors spent almost $5 million on Amendment 3 (in 2004) while trial lawyers spent almost $13 million on Amendments 7 & 8 that they admitted filing to get back at doctors for filing Amendment 3 -- not to mention what they spent opposing Amendment 3. Some lawyers file questionable malpractice claims or go after every person whose name appears in a patient file hoping to get more money. We could say that lawyers are to blame.
But when we ask who is to blame, we all need to look in the mirror. Couples who come to me for counseling are always convinced that the other person is the problem. But, in a distressful relationship, whether a couple or a healthcare system, it is never just one partner's fault. Each person contributes to the nightmare.
Doctors are to blame when they try to make up loss by over-scheduling and growing careless, or by failing to communicate with their patients. We patients are to blame when we hear about a less than perfect outcome and tell the person to sue; when we fail to educate ourselves and ask questions about our health and treatment plans, or fail to follow-up and then blame our doctors; when we fail to learn about the healthcare crisis and speak out; when, like me, we are overweight and put ourselves at risk for preventable serious diseases, ultimately raising the costs of insurance. All of us share the blame by creating a moral and ethical fabric that glorifies self gain at the expense of others. We contribute to the nightmare every time we point our finger at someone else without taking responsibility for our own actions.
Throwing money at the system won't work. Until we ALL take personal and group responsibility for what WE contribute and work to create more ethical health partnerships, we will continue to put bandaids on life-threatening wounds. We must each do our part to find effective ways to change our contribution to the problem and then as Nike says, "Just DO it!!!!" It truly is a matter of life and death for patients, physicians and quality healthcare for all of us.