This is not going to be easy to absorb, if you really let it sink in.
My wife’s a veterinarian, and we sometimes compare notes. So this headline caught my attention. Excerpt from the article:
Economic Euthanasia On the Rise
Euthanasia can be the last act of love when disease or time has made death a greater comfort than life … But now euthanasia has taken on a new and unsettling meaning for some vets’ clients. Economic euthanasias are occurring at higher frequences in practices where the community has been hit hard by the down economy.
An increase in euthanasia when treatment is medically feasible leaves veterinarians to question how they can remain financially stable while helping clients and patients get what they need.
… [An Ohio emergency clinic says] “The worst part is more clients are taking their pets home to die when they’re in need of treatment.”
Now consider what the insightful, visionary Gilles Frydman wrote here a month ago today: Will the Great Recession Create Millions of e-Patients?
He pointed to a Wall Street Journal Health Blog post saying that nearly half of employers plan to shift more costs to us next year, and 20% of companies will switch to a plan that puts insurance out of the reach of many people. (I’m simplifying; read the post for details.)
Later that day, the Fierce HealthCare newsletter reported (see comment):
Survey of 505 family physicians…. “54% [of respondents] said they were seeing fewer patients since January 2008, and 73% reported seeing more uninsured patients. … 71% reported providing more uncompensated care. … Also saw signs that patients’ health was being directly affected by cost issues.”
Here’s my point, people: the forces of business in the healthcare industry are understandably defending themselves against revenue loss, but IT IS KILLING PEOPLE.
I’m in business myself. I have nothing against revenue, earnings, appreciation, stockholder value.
But this is not baseball, people. This is not car sales. Lives are at stake.
I urge the people who run businesses in this industry to find humanistic ways to accomplish their missions. I know you need to meet your targets. Please, please, do not turn us into targets in the process.
And I urge you [readers], yes all of you, to stand up and raise holy Hell about this. We are not carcasses to be mined for revenue. We are human lives. When healthcare becomes out of our reach, people suffer and die.
What’s happening in veterinary medicine – increasingly putting to sleep animals that could have been saved – parallels what’s happening in human healthcare. And as long as decision-makers prioritize preserving revenue instead of preserving life, the results will match.
You better think about where we’re headed – about what’s going to happen if we don’t rise up and demand that our interests be preserved.
p.s. OMG…. what does the article cite as a tonic to minimize the euthanasia trend? The trade association (American Animal Hospital Association) recommends that clients be encouraged to buy insurance.
Insurance. To control costs.
How’s that workin’ out on the human side?
Nasty update – the lead story in today’s Boston Globe:
Costs are keeping patients from care.
As a huge animal advocate (I am part of http://www.wahicats.org, a trap-neuter-return group for feral cats in NYC) it saddens me to no end to read this.
I have looked into getting pet insurance but have found challenges there too:
– They will not insure older pets
– Pet insurance does not cover routine care (!!!)
– It’s not cheap
– Rather than having the PROVIDER (ie: veterinarian) bill the insurer, policyholders are expected to pay out of pocket and fill out reimbursement forms and handle the claims themselves which is difficult and unwieldy.
Interestingly, my wife works for Banfield animal hospitals, and the only “insurance” they offer is a wellness plan: unlimited preventive visits. You still pay for supplies, if I correctly recall what she said, but they have regularly scheduled “wellness hours” when you can stop in for a check-up.
Make no mistake, insurance of any sort will necessarily cost more than the sum of ALL the payments they put out. The whole idea is shared risk: like, everyone in Florida pays into hurricane insurance and most years nobody gets whacked. So, en masse, we will NEVER save money by using insurance, especially if it’s bought from a for-profit company.
For a major eye-opening on that subject, see last night’s blog post from Wendell Potter, who spent 20 years as a PR executive in the health insurance industry. He’s turned against his industry, and tells a deeply moving story of his conversion.