Op-Ed in Today's Daily Beast
Sometimes, you need a bigger platform to scream about the oxymoron of American healthcare
I’m looking forward to the day when I can just use this platform—and only this platform—to proffer my opinions on the way American healthcare, an oxymoron if ever there were one, fails us again and again. Until then, please enjoy/read/share my Op-Ed in The Daily Beast on the absurdities I’ve been publishing here, here, and here in real time:
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“United Healthcare’s eleventh-hour refusal to pay for a quick, non-invasive, clinically proven surgery to reverse my sudden-onset deafness from a recent COVID infection was hardly my first ride on the bucking bronco we call— oxymoronically—American health care. But it is the one that finally broke me.”
“‘I’m so sorry,’ Dr. Sadoughi said, looking crestfallen and furious. ‘They know I’m here. They’re doing this on purpose. I deal with this stuff every day.’
The only reason I could hear him say this is that I’d just been fitted with $2699.99 hearing aids from Costco—also not covered by insurance, but at least cheaper than more sophisticated versions, which can cost up to $10,000. Five years ago, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Grassley passed a bipartisan bill to allow hearing aids to be sold much more cheaply and over-the-counter, but the FDA has yet to implement it.”
“‘Where do I begin?’ said Dr. Rachel Rubin, the fed-up doctor who reached out to me over Twitter. ‘It’s all a dumpster fire of brokenness. The insurance companies get to dictate medical care and go out of their way to deny medications, surgery, or treatments with no repercussions, or require crazy hoops of prior authorizations for practices to have to send in. Patients are tired, doctors are tired, and the insurance companies are raising rates after two years of making a surplus because nobody went to the doctor during the pandemic.’”
Way to go, for-profit health care! You’re definitely fulfilling your primary goal (however perversely). Meanwhile, those you’re mandated to serve languish in health-care purgatory and die.
“As a gut check, I called my younger sister, Dr. Laura Copaken, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Frederick, Maryland. How often, I wondered, is she fighting with insurance companies to provide care to her young patients. She burst out laughing. Then she sighed.
‘Um, every day?’ she said.
“‘Prior authorization is out of control,’ wrote Gerald E. Harmon, MD, Immediate Past President of the American Medical Association, in an Aug. 3, 2022, email to U.S. doctors. ‘Once limited to a small number of new treatments, it’s now being applied widely, even to generic drugs and established regimens. The result: delayed, denied, and abandoned care.’”
“The fact that one in three GoFundMe campaigns are now for health care-related costs is not the heartwarming story often presented to us on social media or the news. In fact, it’s our national shame. This is why health insurance companies like United are supposed to exist: to pay for needed health care. Not to pass the buck of those costs onto the general public via private donations. Even Tim Cadogen, CEO of GoFundMe, said, ‘The situation is nothing short of a national emergency.’”