I’m not a doctor or any other kind of health care provider. My opinion comes from living almost sixty-eight years, have seen many doctors, father-in-law was a doctor, I worked for a clinic, and while there, I worked in the insurance processing department.
The way I see this crisis is not the result of bad doctors or drug addicts, or people just trying to forget the woes of today. The problem started with insurance companies.
In my lifetime I have seen the medical community lose their minds and common sense. There was a time, not so very long ago, we could go to our family doctor from birth until either they retired or died, or we died. Whichever came first. I was never taken to a pediatrician as a child. I was taken to our family doctor who took care of everything from bad tonsils, chicken pox, shots, sprains, coughs due to colds, bronchitis, several cases of pneumonia, birth control, and the list goes on and on. As the saying goes, from birth to the grave. When we detoured from this practice, I do not know.
However, during the transition from family practices to having a specialist for every known disease and problem a human can have, the insurance companies learned they would make more money by having the family doctor needing to refer a patient to a specialist. Granted, there are some things a specialist is required. Brain surgery comes to mind.
Not until a few years ago, I had never heard of such a thing as Pain Management. WTH? In my day, if I was having back pain, I went to see my doctor. He didn’t start throwing drugs at me. He started doing tests, trying to find out what was causing the pain. If he couldn’t figure it out afterward, then he might send me to an orthopedic, maybe. Still trying to get to the bottom of why I had shooting pains running down my back and legs.
Now, I would be sent to physical therapy. I understand physical therapy is a good thing. After my shoulder surgery some years ago, a physical therapist helped me get the full range of movement back. But the insurance company demanded I have physical therapy before my surgery, when in fact this made my muscle tear even worse, according to the surgeon.
Nowadays, insurance companies might approve x-rays, or MRIs but only after physical therapy, regardless. The sad joke around our house, “Got cancer? Go to PT.” If the cause of your pain isn’t something clear cut on an x-ray or MRI, you’re pretty much screwed. Insurance companies will not allow doctors to keep on testing, or god forbid perform an exploratory surgery, which is almost unheard of these days.
What do insurance companies approve? Pain management clinics. They do not care that you are not being cured. They don’t care that the opiates you’re given are habit forming. All they care about is the money. You were referred to a specialist, which cost more money, higher deductibles, higher co-pays and you can only get one month at a time of the drug that is allowing you to move somewhat better. You are forced to go back in thirty days, adding more money to the insurance company’s bottom line. The problem now is that you can’t operate a car or machinery, per the drug company and most state laws. Hard to hold a job when you are sitting around at home drooling on yourself.
Yes, this is a crisis, no doubt about it, too many people hooked on opiates. They need help. The rest of us need help too. As the population ages, we have more issues regarding bones and muscles. Many of us, live with a lot of pain because we don’t want to take the drugs the pain management doctors are prescribing, and the insurance companies will not approve enough testing or surgeries to help us get to the root of the pain or fix what is wrong.
I’m not sure which ones are worse, the insurance companies, the politicians who help the insurance companies with legislation so that they get the favor returned for re-election.
Our whole government is so corrupt we now look and operate like a third world country. In the meantime, citizens suffer.