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The Health Care Debate PDF Print E-mail

There are so many things wrong with our health care system, it’s hard to know where to start. And there’s lots of blame to go around: Doctors who over-prescribe and order unnecessary tests; patients who don’t take responsibility for their own health, demand tests and treatments that aren’t needed, and panic and use ER’s for minor problems; insurance companies whose 1st priority is profit; and the personal injury bar who initiate nuisance malpractice suits against hospitals and physicians.

It’s not all bad though. There are some excellent healthcare organizations like the Mayo Clinic, Inter-Mountain Health, the Geisinger system in Pennsylvania, and some would say Kaiser here in California. These systems serve as models demonstrating how excellent care can be done on a large scale.

So setting aside all the Beltway political gamesmanship, greed, ignorance and stupidity, what can you as parents do when it comes to your own and your kids’ healthcare?

* First, take good care of yourself (good diet, exercise, deal effectively with stress); this obviously will benefit you, and you will serve as a good role model for your child(ren) who learn good life habits early on.

* Know that in spite of all your best efforts, having the occasional illness is just part of living and not something to get alarmed about. You may even think of getting sick as an opportunity to show your kids how you deal with adversity, or if they’re ill, to draw them nearer and make them feel safe and secure.

* Get informed about childhood illnesses; know how to take care of the simple stuff, when to go to the office, and when to go to the ER.

* Learn how to communicate effectively with your health care provider and take full advantage of face-to-face time during office visits by organizing your thoughts and questions. Make sure all your concerns are addressed, either in person, by phone, or via email. If your doctor or his/her group isn’t responsive, be persistent or find someone who is more helpful.

* If your child is ill and the doctor recommends a test (blood count, chest x-ray, etc), ask if it’s really necessary and whether the result might change the treatment. If medication is recommended, again ask – is it truly necessary?

* Does the doctor recommend periodic routine screening tests like blood counts and urinalyses (in healthy kids)? Ask about this; such testing rarely uncovers anything significant.

* If the doctor’s office insists you come in for minor illnesses or complaints like cold symptoms, minor diarrhea / vomiting or pinkeye (without other symptoms) ask why! Are they just filling up their schedule to stay busy (my colleagues won’t like this but it’s still true!)?

Being an informed, smart healthcare consumer is empowering and will help all of us as a society get costs under control.

If you have a question for The Doctor is In, please email your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can also submit your question through the GUiSC website, guisc.com.

Healthy Kidz Doc is written by a board-certified pediatrician who's practiced in Santa Cruz County since 1986. www.healthykidzdoc.yourmd.com


The Health Care Debate

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