I had an experience at the doctor yesterday that I believe is a microcosm of what is wrong with the healthcare system.
A couple months ago I hurt my finger somehow. I have no idea how I did it, but I did and it still hasn't healed. I wanted my sister-in-law, a chiropractor, to work on it, but she said she wouldn't until I got it x-rayed because it may be fractured. So, I went to the doctor. She looked at it, said she thinks it's arthritis, but gave me a prescription to go next door to the hospital for an x-ray to be sure. Ok, fine. So, I'm sitting there, waiting for the nurse to come in with my flu shot (I decided I might as well get that done while I was there) I started thinking about whether the treatment would be different if it was fractured. So, after my shot I hunted down the doctor and asked her if it would make a difference if my finger was fractured. She kind of chuckled and said, "not really". They wouldn't cast my finger, the most they'd do is tape the injured finger to the one next to it, which I could do at home. She gave me a little finger splint to wear if I felt I needed that. So, I decided not to get the x-ray.
I don't know how much that x-ray would have cost my insurance company - a couple hundred dollars, maybe. It wouldn't have cost me anything out of pocket. My doctor knew I didn't really need the x-ray, but she did tell me a lot of people want an x-ray so they know what's wrong, even if there's nothing to be done about it. But, I'll be betting that if they had to pay for that x-ray themselves, they wouldn't want it so badly. I think she also prescribed the x-ray to cover her own rear end, in case it was something bad then she wouldn't get sued. I think this is why medical costs are so high. People agree to tests they don't need (but cost money, even if it's not their own money) and doctors prescribe them out of fear of being sued. Now, the money issue wasn't the whole reason I didn't get the x-ray. Part of it was I just didn't want to go over to the hospital and sit for an hour. That didn't appeal to me at all. But, I think that if our health care actually cost us something we might be more careful about the tests and procedures we agree to. And if we were a less litigious society, doctors may be more careful about prescribing these procedures.
1 day ago