You’ve had a sore back for a long time and want ozone injections developed by Nevada physician Frank Shallenberger, disseminator of the Real Cures newsletter, as a natural therapy for back and joint problems. It’s an alternative treatment, so hardly any board-certified physician is aware of it; you discovered it through your own research.
Step one, you consult with a highly credentialed local physician certified in the therapy by Shallenberger. The local ozone doctor doesn’t accept your insurance, so you will have to pay out-of-pocket the $350 for the first treatment and $250 for each of two succeeding injections. He gives you a prescription for an MRI to determine the exact location of the tissue abnormality causing the pain.
Step two, you call your primary doctor for a referral to an imaging center to have the MRI done. She needs the prescription to seek approval for the procedure from your insurance company. Step three, you call the ozone doctor and ask him to fax his notes to her. Her staff person says she will contact the insurance company the next day. Experience with some doctors has told you that very well may not happen, so, step four, you call the insurer the next day. No MRI request from your primary doctor yet, the customer service rep says. Step five, you call back to ask how long an approval – or rejection – will take once the request is received. A different rep checks and says the request was received after all and, to your amazement, has been approved. You are pleased with such unusual speed.
The ozone doctor handed you brochures for two MRI centers, but you want one closer to your home and, step six, do a Google search. Step seven, you call one, and it accepts your insurance. Step eight, you provide your primary doctor with the MRI center’s contact information. Step nine, after waiting two business days, you call the MRI center to see check on the referral. It hasn’t been received. Step 10, you call the primary doctor, who received approval from the insurance company the day before, and will forward the prescription to the MRI center. Step 11, you call the center and make an appointment for an MRI. Step 12, you have the MRI.
That, dear reader, is a variation on the Twelve-Step Program. It’s enough to drive you to drink, and is the definition of bureaucratic morass. Indeed, it describes the sorry state of the American health-care system in the year 2014. And that’s even after the Affordable Care Act greatly improved the system by enabling millions of uninsured people to obtain insurance and prohibiting insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. But most people defend our health-care system as the greatest in the world, obviously unaware of statistics that rank it last among the advanced nations for life expectancy and infant mortality. How are they so abysmally deceived? It doesn’t hurt that our politicians brainwash the population in this myth. Or should we say, it hurts a lot. Politicians receive generous election-campaign financial support from the health-care industry.
There is a way out of this mess. It’s called the single payer system, which would place the administration of health care in the hands of the federal government. For those who could afford it, private insurance coverage still would be available.
Oh, the cry goes out, that’s socialized medicine, one of society’s great evils! We can’t have that in the United States of America.
Let’s see … our federal aviation system is socialized, our elderly-safety-net system called Social Security is, well, socialized, our food inspection is socialized, our education system is mostly socialized, our building codes and inspections are socialized, our public infrastructure is socialized, our utilities are partly socialized, our drivers licensing is socialized, and on and on. And much of our health care already is socialized: senior citizens (Medicare), the poor and disabled (Medicaid), veterans, and federal employees. Has anyone heard an outcry calling for abolishing these programs?
A single payer system would guarantee coverage to everyone but prevent costs from increasing because without insurance companies, which make money from our sicknesses, the profit element would no longer be involved and the high administrative costs of those companies also would be eliminated. Is that just speculation? No. Health-care costs are much lower in the countries where it’s in effect – no more than half of what our costs are. Yes, the British system has problems, but that’s pure socialized medicine, whereby doctors and patients are chosen by the government. With single payer, patients choose. Canada’s system has long waits for elective treatments, but by all accounts, the government systems in most European countries and Japan, if not other nations, work quite well. France’s health care is ranked No. 1 in the world.
A movement is afoot to bring about single payer, which Barack Obama favored before realizing that championing it would doom his election chances. Opposition remains strong.
Which political party has been most opposed to any form of government involvement in health care? Unless you’ve been living in a cave, I don’t have to answer that.