Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Hammer's First Encounter With Health Care "Reform"

     I, like most folks have a family doctor (or primary care physician if you want to be hoity-toity about it). The Hammer household has been going to Dr. B for years. He's gotten us through an appendectomy, hip surgery, scarlet fever and who knows how many colds, fevers and flu. He started his practice about twenty years ago and through hard work, attention to detail and genuine empathy for his patients built a very good and profitable practice. His office was very professionally run but with person touches like antique sideboards and cabinets in the rooms. His staff was friendly and called us by our first names, as we did them. They were nearly as family.  
     As it happens Dr. B is a good conservative and we talked often about Obamacare and the effects it may have on American health care in general and his practice in particular. He said the Obama Administration was hostile to doctors like him and much preferred to deal with huge medical networks. He confided in me that independent physicians would likely be driven from medicine due to the God awful amount of regulations, requirements, mandates etc. imposed by Obamacare. And sure enough it came to pass. He sold his practice to Duke University Health System a month or so ago and is now just an employee.
    Now, I was scheduled  today for a six month follow up to my yearly physical in August. I got a call yesterday not from a real human but an automated message saying something like this is Duke Medical blah blah blah reminding you blah blah. So I go in today and all the staff had been replaced with all new faces. The new people were courteous but somehow perfunctory and disengaged. In addition the clientele didn't look like Dr. B patients and the antiques were gone. The place had all the atmosphere of a Philadelphia methadone clinic. And I felt like a cog in the great Obamacare government regulated machine. 
    I guess I shouldn't complain, in a couple of years I'll probably look back on this as the good old days. But even still, the times are a-changin (to quote Bob Dyan) and I'm sad for Dr. B. and I'm also sad and afraid for the country. I'm afraid we may well have screwed up the greatest health care system in the world and I know we screwed up at least one family owned, family practice.      

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What took your doctor so long? I grabbed my doctors business card to scan to my phone and noticed that he's now listed as a VP. My kids doctor sold to the same company.

Anonymous said...

But does the proctology instrument still feel the same?

Trilby said...

Ahh the good old days. 45+ million uninsured. Those who are insured going to bankrupt because their insurance "caps out" and can't pay for all of their chemotherapy. Denying patients based on pre-existing conditions (like a being abused by a spouse). 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections resulting in 99,000 deaths. A system the incentivizes quantity and not quality of health care for those who can afford it.

Right...the good old days of the American medical establishment. Who would want to move away from that brilliant system?

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