How does it happen that a program meant to take care of our elderly and young disadvantaged fails? I am an American physician who has been in the medical profession for over fifty years. I recall the times prior to Medicare when physicians took care of the elderly gratis. Granted, I did not practice during those times. Enter big government. They set up a program to take care of the elderly in which the American citizen will pay into an insurance program throughout their life and then reap the benefits of a guaranteed income and healthcare upon retirement. This sounds good. It should work. But it worked so successfully that the government thought they could just as well borrow from this huge fund and just owe the American people. But as we all know the government of the American people is not so good at paying back borrowed money. Same as adding taxes on for infrastructure and spending it on everything but.
How dire is the plight of our elderly? Recently I needed a biopsy, just a simple biopsy of a lesion in my mouth. I asked my partner, Daphne, in our office to start calling and see how many offices she had to call so I could at least be examined. Daphne called 49 physicians offices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Not one office would see me. Not one! Daphne asked me if she could stop. I said yes and then instructed her to say to the next office that I was a cash patient. I received my biopsy the following day. Benign by the way.
I met a woman in the DFW airport a while ago who was traveling to Rhode Island. She was traveling there to see her doctor. She could not find a physician in the DFW area who would see her because she was on Medicare. Can you imagine this? Being forced to commute halfway across the United States to see a doctor. Texas does rank last in the United States in healthcare. Perhaps this is part of the reason.
Only 50% of physicians in Texas will see a new Medicare patient. Only 35% will see a new Medicaid patient. Just one more sad commentary on healthcare in America. No wonder we rank last in the world in healthcare. I called several clinics in Minnesota, my home state, while home a while ago and could not find an office that did not see Medicare patients. What do you suppose that difference is about? Minnesota does rank number one in the United States in healthcare, a far cry from number last.
How does our great country sink to be the poorest country in the world to receive healthcare? How did we get from number one in 1968 when I graduated from med school to last in the world today? The same has happened to our educational system. Did that fail us first so we turned out poorly educated students to enter the field of medicine? After all, our students are just as bright as other countries aren’t they? I think so. So what has happened?
I went to my fifty year class reunion a while back and all of us discussed this terrible slide in healthcare. Did we shirk our responsibility along the way? One of my classmates said to me, “Rick, this happened on our watch.” Yes, it did! Medicine became a capitalistic game where everyone saw they could make money. They didn’t go to medical school. They were smarter. They found out they could manage the doctors, and manage us they did. Sorry to all of you my fellow Americans.
God bless you all from the Maverick Doctor,
Rick R. Redalen, M.D.
P.S. Pick up a copy of my book “God’s Tiniest Angel and the Last Unicorn,” available on Amazon.
Dr. Rick is a retired American physician, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has done mission work around the country and around the world. He is now on a mission to improve healthcare in America. Visit maverickdoctor.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.