I knew this day would be coming. I always suspected it would be when we moved into our golden palace and started throwing hundred dollars bills into the air just to see what it would look like. I never once thought that we would start getting assaulted so soon, especially while living in a shoe box and starring at debt beyond most people's wildest dreams. But it happened. And it only took a week.
Today is the beginning of my husbands third week as an official attending with complete responsibility for everything that happens to his patients in clinic and on the operating table. He is a newbie. He isn't responsible for the way the health care system is set up. He isn't responsible for the health care plan you do or don't have. He has no control over what your health requires from a doctor. He can't do anything about your complaint, but he does wield a scalpel and may have to use it to defend himself!
So if he isn't responsible what makes people think they can attack him and his profession? Sure, they use the phrase "nothing against you", but YES it is. Just because you might say "just kidding" after an offensive joke, or "no offense" when you obviously meant to offend someone doesn't make it appropriate to say. I still can't believe it happened.
The worst part is that the two incidents I am referring to came from family members. All of a sudden it seems as if we have crossed into enemy lines. We have joined ranks with the greedy, good-for-nothing-but-take-your-money system of health care. At least that is the way they perceive it.
The first incident happened while hosting my husbands step-brother and his wife at our humble abode. We haven't seen them in years and wanted to catch up. They travel much lighter, so we agreed to have them in our home versus taking our four children to their home.
Conversation was going well until it went to medicine. They are going on a cruise in a few weeks and he was trying to get a special medication to help with any motion sickness he might have. Six weeks earlier he had been into the doctor for all his labs and picked up another prescription. Now the prescription he wants is in a special class that requires a doctors visit. He feels abused and squeezed because he doesn't want to pay for another visit just to get a prescription. He will already have to pay for the Rx, and doesn't want to pay the doctor because he feels that he is being used to pad the doctors pocket. He is uninsured and pays cash for his visits. He knows how much things costs and tries to keep his costs down. I can appreciate that in a health care consumer.
Things were getting a little heated as my husband tried to defend a doctor he has never met and explain how the system is currently set up, etc. I dismissed myself to the kitchen (around a corner) and upon returning gave him the signal to cool things down and change subject.
The second time I was on my own and froze. Granted, it was on the phone and it was my sister and I am used to her going off and usually can't get a word in anyway. She and her family are also uninsured going on a year now and up to this point they have enjoyed absolutely free health care in the form of 100% employer paid premiums, no deductibles, and low co-payments. They have lived under that system for 15 years and have thoroughly enjoyed having someone else pay all their bills. And they used plenty of health care during that time.
They have a daughter who has a birth defect that requires some follow up. Now that they are responsible for their own health care they see the system as a racket. She was upset because they drove two hours to visit a specialist who did absolutely nothing. His advice was "try harder" and charged them $150 for the visit. She feels the doctor wasted their time and money.
Both of these situations share a common theme. They had previously enjoyed free health care and now that they are paying for it as they use it, they have problems. I don't see how that is the doctors fault, yet he is the one that is taking the fall. His fees for service haven't changed, their insurance changed.
Actually, the doctor isn't taking the fall because they aren't complaining to their doctor - they are complaining to us!
Obviously, I am not their doctors nor is my husband. So why should I feel so offended when other people have issues with their own doctors? Because they all get lumped together by affiliation. Worse than that, they have placed upon them the faults of the entire health care system. It's not fair. I take it personally. Especially because I see what my own husband has had to do to get where he is and where he is going. I know the sacrifices, financial sacrifices that have been made. I know what his time is worth and can see the value in paying for a professional that has invested so much. They don't see it, and they never will.
A line has been drawn, and now we find ourselves on the other side - an easy target for anyone who has ever had a bad experience or felt they paid too much for the advice they were given. It hurts to know they look at us and think what we have IS or WILL be unfairly gained.