Friday, April 22, 2016

Can Humanity Survive If This Species Goes Extinct?

According to the Wall Street Journal, United Healthcare is withdrawing from the Affordable Healthcare Act exchanges in many states due to heavy financial losses on the low-cost policies. I can't say I'm surprised by this news. The way doctors treat their patients these days suggests to me that insurers are paying out a lot of money that doesn't always seem necessary.

Funny...but true!

Example: I have an excellent doctor, board certified in internal medicine. When I last saw her, she gave me referrals to a number of specialists: a dermatologist for a rash on my arms...a gastroenterologist for the colonoscopy I've already explained won't happen (after five failed attempts, isn't it time to give up and try something else?)...a ophthalmologist...and I'd already been seeing a neurologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a cardiologist. Then there are the tests, lots of tests.

This has got to be expensive for my insurance carrier. Not to mention a big ol' pain in the rump roast for me.

The last thing I want to be doing is spending most of my time in doctors' offices, but it sure sounds like that's what's in my future. Is all of this really necessary? Why can't my primary care doctor handle most of this, uh, stuff?

Whatever happened to the family doctor? Are they extinct? Are primary care doctors now little more than traffic cops, directing their patients to the appropriate specialists?

Years ago, we had a family doctor. He took care of Mom, Dad, Collin and me, and he did most of it himself. Mom and Dad had a cardiologist, and I had an ophthalmologist, but our family doctor handled everything else. I liked it that way. I could take care of almost any problem I had with one office visit, not six or seven. He prescribed everything, including my seizure meds and ordered any tests I needed. If I had a problem, I didn't have to stop and think about which doctor would be the right one to call for a rash or a sore throat. I called Dr. Zink. He knew me and my medical history, so he was more than prepared to deal with anything that was needed.

Yeah, right. I've found the later the appointment,
the further behind the doctor is going 
to be by the time he/she gets around to me!
 And don't get me started on rush hour traffic!

I felt comfortable with him. When I had an appointment, I saw only him--there were no residents coming in first to make the visit take twice as long and make me feel like a guinea pig. Just him--or, occasionally for a follow-up, his nurse practitioner. Once, Mom was in the next exam room when I was getting my annual pelvic exam. She couldn't figure out why I was laughing during the exam. I explained that we'd gotten into a conversation about where we were when Star Trek first aired back in 1966. I was in junior high. He was in the Peace Corps. He said I'd made him feel old. I thought that was funny. Never mind that I was in a very uncomfortable position, exposed for the most part. I was comfortable enough to be able to have a laugh at his expense.

I miss that. My old family doctor is retired now, and I find myself wondering if the family practice even exists anymore.


  1. I haven't had a personal doctor in years- probably because I don't get sick that often, so if I feel the need, I can just go into a campus or walk in clinic. I remember one family doctor my parents had- that bastard had absolutely no business being a doctor. Didn't give a damn about his patients. To me the mark of a good family doctor is one who asks lots of questions.

  2. I'm a bit like William I don't actually have one specific doctor because I hardly ever go and in the doctors practice I go to they seem to change all the time. I think the problem these days is doctors don't want to take the responsibility for making a diagnosis, that's why they're happier to send patients off to all these different specialists.. Oh for the good old days I totally agree Norma!

  3. I've found that an Internist is a specialty field.
    GPs are rare, but do exist.
    Family Practitioners are alive and well and handle most things (depending on the doctor). The younger they are, the more likely they are to refer out. But, there are good FPs out there. It takes a bit of effort to find one, but once found--one that you click with--hang on to them as if they were precious gems.
    I have a good FP--actually two, within a three-doctor office and I'll hang on to them even though their tendency is to refer. I can usually work around their desires to refer, and they will let me know if the reason for referral is that they're out of their comfort (read: knowledge) zone.
    That is an acceptable reason to refer.

  4. I miss my family doctor too. It was nice to have a go to guy, so to speak. That style of doctoring seems to be pretty much over.

  5. I have had some of my illness since I was 15. Last year I kinda gave up going to the doctors. So tired of all the appointments. But I have stepped down (?) to the next level and I have to start going again.
    I hate it.
    My gynecologist in Californa treated me for everything and she was the one who found out about how bad my fibromyalgia had become. My other doctor a man just told me I was a stay at home mom and just needed to lose weight. So sorry I had to leave her. I have a Family Practitioner that is pretty good. But I am doctored out !
    Take care Norma.

    cheers, parsnip

  6. Very good post, Norma. I don't know if they still exist or not, but this go to a million different doctors is nuts, to me.

  7. Yeah, the family doctors today exist just to hand you off to someone else. Someone who's an expert. Ha!

  8. William: I've had a few bad doctors myself. I saw one briefly who must have gotten her degrees from a bogus medical school. I told her I was out of breath, but figured I was just carrying too much weight. She advised me to not carry it around. I told her I'd leave it at home if I could, but....

    Grace: I think you're right. We have clinics here who stick you with the doctor du jour as well.

    Debra: I wish my family doctor hadn't retired. He was really wonderful. I like my new internist, but I don't like being passed around to all those specialists--and I really don't like having to put up with the resident asking me all kinds of irrelevant questions, them having to wait and wait to see my doctor.

    Lynn: Sadly, I think you're right.

    Gayle: I'm with you--so tired of so many doctors, I feel like just dropping all of it and taking my chances.

    Ivy: Nuts. That's the perfect word for it. It's expensive and unnecessary.

    Cheryl: It's like the primary care doctor is just a referral service.

  9. I don't have "a doctor". I have no idea who I go to. They change where I'm supposed to go to every dang year, so if I get sick (enough for one, that is), I'll just go to some local clinic.
    I have only had one problem where I needed to go to a doctor. I had a heart murmmer, but found out it was caused by certain problems. But, for some reason they wanted me to go to another doctor to have my choleserol checked. I didn't go. Screw them. They get you in there and all of a sudden, I'd be seeing several doctors. I think it's all a scam these days.
    I'm with you Norma, I loved my old family doctor. Wish they'd go back to that, but there's no money in it, I guess. So, yeah. I tend to my own sickness, or just don't get sick.

    1. Add to that the fact that with Obamacare, your insurance limits the doctors you can see. None of the doctors my internist referred me to are on my insurance provider's list.

      Yep, I think you're right. It's a scam.

  10. It is sad.. I think the family doctors of the past are gone... I am lucky my internist is my husbands best friend (although that is a whole other shade of weird)


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