19 September 2009

What, exactly, do people dislike about health care today?

During my son's five year battle with cancer, the one constant was nausea. It was a symptom of his cancer, and a side effect of virtually every treatment and every drug he took. His doctors prescribed many anti-nausea medications, from Decadron, to Zofran, to Kytril, to Emend, to Aloxi, to Marinol, to Phenergan - he had them all, and more. Our insurance covered it, but they were very specific about when you could get a refill. If we needed to change the dose before a refill, and ran out before they thought we should, it was tough to get it refilled; a call to the doctor, a call to the insurance, another day for the pharmacy. If this happened on a Saturday night, the delay was longer.

On more than one occasion, we simply could not wait. We could not cure his cancer, but for a thousand dollars or so, we could ease his nausea for a couple of days. For people without the same means as we had, their kids would just have to live with the nausea.

Bear in mind, nobody ever denied coverage - every pill was covered by insurance. No doctor ever told us it was unnecessary - they went out of their way to find a way to help. No pharmacy ever acted as gatekeeper - they did everything they could to get us the medicine and limit the cost.

Everybody wanted to help, and everything was covered. But there were certain bureaucratic rules, and boxes to check, and forms to fill out, and people to sign off, and it just took too long and was a pain in the ... you know where.

This, I think, is the sort of frustration most Americans have with our current system. Not bankruptcy for lack of insurance, not dying in the street for lack of care, not paying too much for those last few months of life. Just bureaucracy and red tape and a whole new pain in the @$$ every time you turn around.

But most Americans have also stood in line to renew a drivers license, or to mail a package, or to get the local tax office to correct an error.

So why would any reasonable person believe that more government will fix the actual frustrations we have with the current system?

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