Monday, May 24, 2010

Little Hospital on the Prairie

Sue Lowden, the Senate hopeful from Nevada, has come under fire for her suggestion that we return to the good old days of bartering for medical services. I was thinking about this as I talked with several clients about their perambulations through the medical system in search of diagnoses and treatments.

Given that each of them had received services from at least 6 professionals (referring physician, bloodwork, radiology, oncology, pharmacy, geriatric care manager) would they have to bring a chicken to each one? Now we’re talking a whole flock of chickens! Speaking as one of those professionals---I have to pay cash for what I need so I prefer to be paid in cash.

I feel great compassion for Ms. Lowden. She seems to be as overwhelmed as the rest of us by the complex cost/payment structures that support the medical industry. No wonder she longs for the good old days on the prairie. TV series like the Waltons and Little House on the Prairie show us people who are poor but happy; living simple lives and possessing a kind of virtue hard to find in modern urban society.

We need to remember the reality---that most of these farmers worked like dogs for a precarious hand-to-mouth existence. Life was nasty, brutish and short (Hobbes). Modern times brought all sorts of new complications but it also brought abundant food, leisure, public health and medical care for a great many of us.

As a result life became relatively easy, civilized and long.

We’re only going to be able to solve our health care crisis by focusing on the present moving toward the future. How else to avoid lives that are nasty, brutish and long (Rosofsky)?

Nostalgia for a time that never was gets us nowhere.

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