I seem to have kicked over a hornet’s nest in my criticism of the American health care system.
The basic fact of the matter is this: We do not have, in America, the highest-rated health care system. We are not in the top 10, nor top 20, but somewhere in the middle 30s. Yet we pay more for our health care than any other nation in the world. Throw out the third-world countries or those newly industrialized nations who are trying to catch up to the rest of us and just count the western industrialized countries and we still fare rather badly.
In my columns, which are mostly small, we have held a mirror up to ourselves and our country. I do not know a single doctor who wants any kind of governmental interference or assistance in health care. I object strongly to the amount of money, across the board, that’s being made off of the poor people of America. If you have a major disease and need extreme care, you could very easily lose everything you own and be bankrupt. And that is the big rub.
From a very small clinic on a Navajo reservation to Rochester, Minn., and the Mayo Clinic, we have extremes in our health care in America. From lowly nursing homes to the ones that are extremely well-staffed and helpful, to areas of the country that have no mental health care, the mirror we placed in front of you is not good.
I do not care how much money a doctor or hospital makes as long as the fees that are set are honest and if there is transparency in the charges that are placed against you when you go to a hospital, or to your family doctor, or to a specialist. My Lord, if this old broadcaster can see the flaws and the dangers in the system, why can’t you?
We are going to need many more doctors in the coming decades than we can produce at our medical schools. Don’t you think it’s time for the AMA to be very worried about this? I do. And shouldn’t the fixes they have to make be transparent for all of us to see?
As I said in another writing effort, I’ve been very fortunate, but we need to care about keeping this aging country not only alive, but in decent shape to be productive, intelligent and able, always, to pull our weight. I think American doctors are, in general, good doctors. Like any group of professionals, there will occasionally be a clinker in the mix, but good doctors from all over the world come here to practice and we will need more of them in the coming years.
So while you may not like the mirror I have held up in front of the health care system, perhaps you should look to what is being said instead of who is saying it.
Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.