Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Clogged Stream

As I continue to post the daily verses and analysis of the Tao Te Ching, two of the recurrent themes are to flow like water and to lead a life of simplicity. Unfortunately, when we look at America's antiquated and inefficient health care system, it looks like a raging river strewn with boulders, submerged logs and mysterious undercurrents -- the very antithesis of a peaceful stream!

If an individual or family is lucky enough to have health insurance, they must wend their way through a labyrinth of exclusionary rules, complicated procedures, and forms to receive proper care. If the doctor indicates the patient needs a particular procedure, test or operation, this information often must be reviewed by the insurance company before being given the go ahead. If a person becomes seriously ill, some insurance companies deny particular forms of care or, even worse, decide to bump the person from coverage altogether!

If a person or family is not lucky enough to have health insurance and is not impoverished enough to qualify for Medicaid, then needed medical care is an iffy proposition, at best. Because the cost of medical care in this country has shot through the roof, it is not infrequent that the working poor and middle class simply forgo preventive and necessary care or go into bankruptcy securing it. Even worse, some clinics and facilities will turn you away if you don't have health insurance!

If Lao Tzu was in charge of revamping this nation's health care system, I have no doubt that he would favor some form of universal cradle-to-grave coverage. He would create a system that engendered an easy flow and simplicity, a system that held down administrative costs and favored preventive care.

But Lao Tzu isn't in charge; instead, it's the clever men who runs things and they run things as if we are stuck in a clogged stream with no way to get to shore.


  1. the medical facilities charge absurd prices to the insurance companies. actually as the economy declined, a few doctors decided to go to private practice, and were able to charge their patients very little for their services. why not cut out the middle man and encourage private practice? that way the government doesn't have to foot the expense, the patients pay very little, and insurance companies aren't taking all our money? of course there will be families who still need government assistence, especially for severe medical problems, but it would be a more simple and practical solution for the majority of people, who go to the doctor for common problems like the flu or allergies, etc...

  2. The creation of HMOs in the 70s was, in part, a response to doctors ordering too many unnecessary tests and procedures (which ran up costs). There was a public clamor for the government to do something to curb the absolute power of the AMA. At that time, doctors didn't rank very high in opinion polls.

    Now fast forward nearly 40 years later. The gov't -- in its "infinite wisdom" -- help to create a monster even worse than the original illness and now doctors are seen as the good guys.

    As with most things in life, what we need is balance -- no one group of professionals holding the major sway of power.


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