March 10, 2014

Choose your health care wisely

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a doctor’s office reminding me not to forget my Tuesday appointment.

To tell the truth, I had forgotten.

In late autumn, I had undergone a procedure, and I had postponed the follow-up visit. By now, several months had passed, and I was showing no repeat of the symptoms.

When the nurse sat me down to take my blood pressure, I asked her, “Tell me, why am I here?”

She looked through my folder and said, “I don’t know. Perhaps you should ask the doctor.”

When the doctor came in, I asked him the same question. He looked at my records and told me that he didn’t know, either.

“It’s probably just a followup from the procedure you had in January,” he said.

But the procedure hadn’t taken place in January; it was more like November.

The visit didn’t last long because it had been unnecessary.

But, unfortunately, Medicare and my Medigap insurance together would pay hundreds of dollars for that one needless appointment.

And that is only one of the reasons our health-care costs are spiraling way out of control.

In retrospect, I share the blame because I knew there was no reason for a visit and could have canceled it. But like most consumers of health care, I often do what the doctor says without question.

Fortunately, members of the medical profession are beginning to get the message and have started to organize to look at ways to reduce the cost of doctor visits and hospital care.

Currently, health care is at almost 18 percent of America’s gross domestic product and 30 percent of government expenditures. It doesn’t need to be that high.

To make things worse, while U.S. health care costs are far greater than those in any other industrialized country on the planet, outcomes are worse.

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