I’m frustrated – in case you couldn’t tell from the title.

Our country has the best scientific innovation in the world. The rapid explosion of knowledge in genetics, pharmacology, bio-medical engineering – just to name a few – are enough to make anyone’s head spin. It’s an exciting time to be in medicine.

And yet we aren’t living much longer. We aren’t living any healthier. And we spend about twice as much on healthcare per person as our friends in any other country.

I believe our country is rapidly moving toward a two-tier system in healthcare. Those without money will be provided a certain level of care based on government-regulated checklists. Unfortunately, lobbying efforts by groups and corporations will have much more power than they should in affecting the specifics of what care is provided. Care will be given by teams of workers pushed to ever-greater efficiency in huge conglomerates of healthcare institutions. Government financial controls will make it essentially impossible for hospitals, doctors, and others to provide healthcare outside of the check-list formulas.

On the other hand, a second tier of medical care will be available to those who DO have money. The already-growing fields of concierge medicine and wellness/longevity clinics are good examples. Amazing cutting-edge advances will be available, but only a few of those advances will be available in the government-regulated “normal” healthcare settings. To get the rest of what’s available, those with money will be willing to pay dearly.

Is that pessimistic? Perhaps. Is it right? I don’t think so. I don’t know what the answer is. But I do believe the forces in play make the above scenario almost inevitable. And it’s already well on its way.

I see this in my own practice. Just yesterday I had to talk with a lady whose “insurance” will not pay for a certain surgical procedure. While not life-threatening, not having the surgery will certainly affect the quality of her life. And another patient who very much needs surgery will probably have to wait about six months. There are just too few slots available – and no money to make more slots.

The fact that other people make decisions about what healthcare my patient receives – all based on money – frustrates me!

That’s the reality that every doctor, every patient, and every health-care worker faces every single day.

No, I don’t really think healthcare as we know it will end. But I do believe it will look quite different than it does now. Will it be all bad? No. But I believe it will be much harder in many ways, for everyone.

If you’ve kept reading this far, I must say Thank You for allowing me to share a little of my frustration.

This should make us all determined to do everything possible to stay healthy. You won’t need to keep the doctor away: you’ll have to stand in line to see one. So don’t get sick!

Your turn: Have you experienced frustration in getting some necessary medical care? What have you done about it? I’d love to hear from you!

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