I try not to pay too much attention to the outside world as it just makes me foam at the mouth with righteous indignation. I don’t know what possessed me to start reading the NYT on a regular basis again, but here I am, keeping up with the world and occasionally wanting to kick it in the nuts.

Like this. This article embodies everything that is wrong with privatized health care.

#1: People can, and do, take a “D.I.Y.” approach to their own health.  This makes me nuts. Every time I see a prescription drug advertised on television, I want to defenestrate myself. If the drug is something you should be considering, your doctor will tell you so since they spent upwards of eight years studying medicine and are well-informed about your condition and your treatment options. If you don’t think your doctor knows what s/he’s talking about, go see a different one! It’s that easy! Even with an HMO, you can do it! Telling your doctor what drugs you should be taking is as asnine as telling your mechanic that you know what parts he should use to fix your car. No one does the latter, why do people do the former? Why does our society lead people to believe that they know more about medicine than doctors do?

I’d like to wag some fingers in the general direction of the television news industry and the constant state of fear that it serves to instill. Every freaking night there’s some story about “your health may be at risk!” and it’s all crap like “Don’t let your doctor not give you a flu shot.” “They tell you that you don’t really need an extra kidney, but it’s all lies!” “Have your drinking water tested for magic blueberry disease!”

So. People are filled with this crackpot idea that they know what they’re doing. They ask for prescription drugs by name. Some people even have enough hubris to go and diagnose others. I have epilepsy and I’ve had total strangers ask me “Have you tried Keppra?” No. No I effin haven’t because my DOCTOR did not think that it would be the right drug to effectively treat me. I don’t care if your sister is on it and she loves it. I don’t care if your dog recommends it. Until my DOCTOR asks me if I want to try a new drug, nothin’ doing.

In this article, the main culprit is at-home testing. So you can test yourself at home for conditions that, if you have them, require medical treatment. Right. Because it’s best to do this without any sort of medical fall-back plan for when you find out that you really do have magic blueberry disease and that you need to get raspberry pills to treat it.  Then you end up in the position where you’re desperately trying to find raspberry pills and have to, egads, tell your doctor about it because YOU are not authorized to write prescriptions.

#2: The insurance companies’ policy that pre-existing conditions are not covered serves to re-inforce #1 and drive people to total insanity.  Even worse is what happens when you don’t have any insurance to begin with.  This situation from the NYT article is exactly the situation that I find myself in:

 Now largely recovered, her primary concern is whether she will be viewed as a health insurance liability for the future.
“I don’t want to have to work for a big business just to get insurance,” she said. “This could be determining what I can do for my whole life.”

My disease has already determined my life for me. I have the options of selling-out and getting insurance (and even then, I worked for a big business and was told that epilepsy related expenses would not be covered 100%) or shelling out hundreds upon hundreds of dollars every month for medication, and at least a grand a year in doctors’ bills.This is the reality of what it means to have a pre-existing condition. Even when I do get insurance, there is no guarantee that it will cover all (or even any) of these expenses. And that really, really sucks.

Cost should not be the primary consideration when deciding on a course of treatment, or whether or not to be screened for a potentially serious illness. I’m not saying that cost is irrelevant – I’ve certainly declined non-essential treatment based on cost – but that it should not be the first and foremost decider of one’s options as a patient. The decision should come down to what the patient and hir doctor believe is going to be the most effective, and not what’s going to be the most cost effective. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go and order some treatment online for my magic blueberry disease.