On Call with Dr. Lyons

Wellness Update - - On Call with Dr. Lyons - Vicki J. Lyons, MD Pub­lisher and Chair­man

Ifind it in­ter­est­ing that the av­er­age Amer­i­can is held ac­count­able for their fi­nan­cial blun­ders. Be­cause there is ac­count­abil­ity, we think a lit­tle more clearly about the fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions we make, be­cause the con­se­quences for a bad de­ci­sion can be dev­as­tat­ing. Maybe that’s why politi­cians think dif­fer­ently – and not al­ways so clearly. If they make a fi­nan­cial blun­der, they pass a tax and let the tax­pay­ers pay the con­se­quences. I bet if their an­nual salaries were pe­nal­ized for bad de­ci­sions, their think­ing process would be dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent. Look­ing back, the Af­ford­able Care Act – or Oba­macare as we pas­sion­ately now call the pop­u­lar health­care dis­as­ter – would be a to­tally dif­fer­ent pro­gram if politi­cians were fac­ing fi­nan­cial penal­ties for its short­com­ings. As a physi­cian, it was ob­vi­ous to me -- and vir­tu­ally all my col­leagues -- that Oba­macare never had a chance. Doc­tors deal with in­sur­ance and the out­ra­geous cost of health care on a daily ba­sis. Most doc­tors will tell you the best way to of­fer an af­ford­able health­care plan is to re­duce the cost of health care it­self. When a prescription drug cost $750 a pill and cost less than a dol­lar to pro­duce hits the mar­ket, some­body has to pay. The cost of that over­priced drug is passed onto the con­sumer in the form of higher in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums. When a hos­pi­tal pro­ce­dure costs nearly $10,000 and a sim­i­lar pro­ce­dure costs less than $2,000 at a sur­gi­cal cen­ter, some­body has to pay. Once again, the con­sumer gets the bill in higher in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums. Af­ford­able care is a won­der­ful con­cept that could im­prove the health and longevity of so many who need health care in this coun­try, but frankly with so many spe­cial in­ter­ests and so much money on the line – the con­cept is more a dream than re­al­ity. Spe­cial in­ter­est groups and their in­flu­ence ped­dlers are lin­ing pock­ets daily, host­ing el­e­gant par­ties, tak­ing ex­otic trips and more. To the vic­tor goes the spoils and not too many politi­cians are giv­ing up the life­style when a bailout can solve so many bad de­ci­sions. Oddly, when the sub­ject of health care comes up, the po­lit­i­cal bro­kers very rarely lis­ten to doc­tors, per­haps be­cause they are afraid of the truth. Yet, the Af­ford­able Health Care is go­ing broke. Co-ops are fold­ing, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies are pulling out of the pro­gram and Congress is be­ing asked to ap­prove bil­lions of dol­lars to keep the sink­ing ship afloat. Frankly, throw­ing money at a bro­ken prod­uct makes no sense. The real an­swer is in controlling the cost that makes health care a tril­lion dol­lar in­dus­try. Doc­tors can and should be part of the so­lu­tion. We know health care. I would en­cour­age all our read­ers to write their rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sen­a­tors and tell them the tax­pay­ers are not go­ing to pay for Oba­macare. We don’t need an­other tax or an­other bailout. Still, I know there are so many out there who need and want health in­sur­ance but are con­fused about the choices. Beware, what could seem to be an af­ford­able pol­icy could be merely money wasted. Know­ing how to pick the right pol­icy is es­sen­tial. Over the next sev­eral is­sues, we are go­ing to pro­vide our read­ers with some ba­sic on health­care poli­cies in­clud­ing terms, costs and more. We know you need health in­sur­ance but we want you to make the best fi­nan­cial choice. Af­ter all, if you make the wrong choice, you can’t pass a tax to fix the er­ror.

Un­til next is­sue.

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