I've been meaning to write this post for some time now, and after 6 hours in doctor's offices yesterday, I'm now motivated to actually write it. (I realize now that this post is on the longer side. Feel free to print out and read on the subway)
First - My day yesterday.
This weekend I noticed that my vision was a little off (yes - i have horrible vision generally speaking - but it was even worse than usual). I was traveling for work this week, so I called to make an eye doctor's appointment when I got back. I don't have a regular eye doctor - but more on this later. So after filling out paperwork for 15 minutes, then going through the initial set-up with the non-doctors (nurses i suppose) - I waited some more before seeing the actual doctor. I then took part of some annoying tests that involved big beams of light directed into my eye - with instructions to keep my eyes open. Tons of fun. After that came diagnosis #1. After more questions/answers - I took part of more tests. Hmmm ... Diagnosis #1 isn't it ... I think it's diagnosis #2. Let's take more tests ... Hmm ... it resembles diagnosis #2 - but I'm not really sure - let's send you to a specialist.... "Can it wait till next week? NO - you have to go today - it could be serious..." (In the spirit of not wanting to screw with my eye-sight, I obviously followed orders to a tee)
Retinal specialist was downtown. I had a 1:30 appointment. After filling out forms, waiting to be called, going through the almost identical pre-testing, and then waiting 45 minutes for the actual specialist -- let's just say I'm not overly bubbly.
The Doctor was actually a nice, personable guy. He explained as best he could what the charts indicated that it was a common case of Central Serous Retinopathy. Yea - I'm sure you all know what that is so I'll move on... (Feel free also to click on that link to find out more) Long story short - I took another 20 minutes of PAINFUL tests to ensure that's what it was. Unfortuantely - inconclusive...but it still smelt like it... So - what's to come of it? Nothing! I have to wait 4 weeks to see if it improves on its own. No treatment for now. Just waiting. My entire day spent to find this out... (Don't want to complain - it was just frustrating)
Anyway ... now on to Chapter 2: Doctors are merely used car salesman with some expensive schooling.
That's right - I said it. 99% of doctors I interact with as a patient are money-hungry low-lives. I have NEVER EVER heard the words "you don't need that" from a doctor in his/her office. Something is always "precautionary" or "good to make sure." And don't get my wrong - I'm always buying. No one wants to cheap-out on their health.
What really irritates me is seeing that actual profiting right before my eyes. Example - do you ever look at the statements your insurance company sends you? The pricetag doctors put on the smallest things are crazy! X-Rays $1000 (that's like $1MM/hour type revenue)... $300 for their personal "Examination" of you - which was about 30 seconds of them looking at your chart.
At the doctor office yesterday they tried charging my $300 for contact lenses that I hadn't even purchased yet!! (and by the way - i can buy my contacts online for HALF that price!!) The effect this has on me is really annoying. I find myself overly sensitive what doctors are doing to me..."Why are you doing that?" "Do I need this test?" "Is it covered by insurance?"
Maybe this is New York City specific - where the 8MM people are enough volume for doctors not to need recurring patients. They know that if you don't come back - someone else will be there.
What I hope for one day - is that I have doctors that I trust and that over time would want to know my family and I personally. I love the Hollywood concept of their being a small-town doctor who knows everyone. Someone who puts my health and well-being ahead of profit. Someone who is honest - gives customers (patients) all relevant information and then a choice.
Please don't get me wrong - I definitely think that doctors should certainly make a decent living - but I hate to see them treat patients as the sucker gravy train.
EDITORS NOTE: Upon further discussion with Felch (who happens to date a doctor), I must conceed that almost all of the doctors I have gone to come from the insurance programs web sites. Perhaps if I got doctors by referral -- my experiences would be better.