An Example of Why Health Care in the US Has Gotten Out of Control

I was just watching a television show that’s a drama about the medical field. The particular episode I was watching perfectly illustrated the reason why Health Care in our country has completely gotten out of control.

The scenario: A patient has lost one of his digits (his thumb to be exact), and requested that the minimal amount of surgery be done on him as to avoid costs from his medical insurance. His insurance only covers 60% of what they deem major surgery. He also indicated that if it was too much he wouldn’t sign the consent forms and would rather not get the surgery at all and just lose his thumb.

The doctor, in response to this patient, decides to get the patient’s consent for the least amount of surgery possible (basically to just attach the skin, but keep in mind this is fictitious), and after getting the consent and putting the patient under he proceeds to fully attach the mans thumb even after being explicitly told not to do so. Now this isn’t what I’m saying the problem is, because I don’t really think a doctor would do this in real life. The problem is what is to come, and shows the mentality that a lot of people with power seem to have.

The hospital ends up getting sued by both the patient and the insurance company, because both parties are unwilling to foot the bill (imagine that), and so the manager of the hospital goes to the doctor to confront him about the consent issue and the surgery.

Here’s the problem: The doctor, at some point, responds, “I wasn’t going to let the guy throw away his thumb just to save a few bucks.”

It may sound reasonable at the front of it, but consider something else. The manager said the cost of the procedure was $80,000. Taking into account for the fact that the patient would be responsible for a minimum of 40% of that amount, you’re talking $32,000. That is not a few bucks.

Now the crux of this whole thing comes falling down. Ultimately who’s responsibility/right is it to decide whether this procedure is done or not? It’s the patient’s. He decided he didn’t want it done; respect the decision. Our mentality about Health Care in this country needs to change from the mentality of this doctor. We need to give respect back to the patients. They have the right to choose. They have the right to negotiate price. They have the right to refuse. They have the right for a second opinion. They have a right to their own opinion.