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A taste of government run health care: Medicine by Panels, not Doctors.

26 October, 2009

Loathe as I am to talk about personal stuff, I am going to tell you about my experience with worker’s compensation and still try to maintain my privacy.  About 10 years ago, I suffered a career-ending injury while at work.  Although I initially tried to pretend nothing was wrong, I had filed a work injury report as required.  Eventually, I asked to see a doctor.  The doctor I had to see worked for the Insurer and despite telling me that I was clearly injured refused to let me take time off work.   Because I was relatively new at my job, I did not have enough sick time or leave time to do so without his permission.

After several months, I decided to see a lawyer, but it had to be a work comp lawyer “approved by the Union.”  I was required to see and be examined by several doctor’s, give a deposition, and sit around a small crowded work comp board room many, many times while my lawyer and the Insurance lawyers “talked” in another room, sometimes with a “judge” and sometimes alone.  I was rarely involved in the decision-making process.

At least, I was allowed to see doctors on a regular basis for treatment of my injury (complicated because there were/are multiple facets to my injury).  But everything the doctors did, every medicine the doctors prescribed had to be approved by some case worker and “analyst.”  Medicine got held up, temporary disability got held up, hearings got delayed, and my sanity began to deteriorate.

Work Comp benefits are barely life-sustaining.  I was lucky that I had a spouse to bring home a paycheck, but my family of four took a big hit in the wallet even while the economy was good.  None of this was my fault.

During my many visits to doctors and “court,”  I met people who had lost their homes and were living in a rented room because they had lived alone and could not live on the money work comp provided.  Some were able to move in with their children, although this often amounted to a loss of self-esteem and independence.  The “benefit” amount was based on the worker’s salary, so many of these people were pulling in minimal monthly allowances.   Like me, many of these people experienced disruption in their treatments and medicines as decisions were made by some clerk in an office across the country.  Many of these people were in a state of despair and depression; they had lost their jobs, their homes and, most important of all, their dignity.

I suspect we are the people Eric Holder,  Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and others in the current Administration feel are no longer of value to this society; the people who ought to die so that the productive amongst us can have more space on this planet.

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I assure you that the lawyers, analysts, and doctors did not suffer wage losses as a result of  those injured worker’s or because of the system of compensation.  The abuses that were/are touted usually, but not always, come from people with good pensions, government jobs or,  sometimes, someone on the inside.  For them the scam is extra money, not living expenses.

When my case was settled, I was “Awarded” a pension, medical expenses, and medications.  My medicines and treatment during the last ten years have been stopped by a board of non-doctors, case workers, and “supervisors” who had no medical training.  I have seizures as a result of the injury, but my doctors were frequently questioned about the medicines they were prescribing and sometimes the prescriptions were denied outright.  I have not been able to get approval for a follow-up EEG in the last four years.

My doctors have had to file complaints to my lawyer who filed complaints to Insurance lawyers who then ignored the complaints until we went to court and the judge ordered a resumption of my benefits Meanwhile, unless I used my entire pension to buy the needed medication (expensive, of course), I risked and sometime had seizures.  Sometimes my pension was stopped and no one knew why.  Right!   Lawyers, Case Workers, and Judges again.

Some doctors refuse to take work comp cases because of constant hassle; my doctors set aside room in their practice to do so and I was one of the lucky ones. The medical care has been great as long as the doctor is in charge.  But the huge bureaucracy sucks away at the money and the soul of the system, as well as at the soul of its patients.  The insurance companies, the lawyers, the panels, and the doctors paid by the system to keep patients out of the system do just fine.

I have already experienced (state) government health care and I fear what it will mean when the Federal government steps into to the business of caring for my family’s other health needs.

Medicine by Panels, not Doctors.  Be Afraid!

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