Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Why our health care system sucks...

So, I got a firsthand view of why there is so much waste in our health care system. Here goes:

I am very near-sighted and I wear contacts most of the time. Now, you can order your contacts online very easily, but there's a caveat. In most states (due to the powerful optometrist lobby) you have to get your eyes checked before you can reorder your contact prescription.

That means that I have to go to the eye doctor every year even though my eyesight has not changed. My optometrist tells me that it's unlikely that my vision will change through my 30s, yet I still have to go, sit there for 30 minutes, sweat through the stupid "Better like this, better like this" torture and then be told, "Hey, your prescription hasn't changed."

Of course, wasting 30 minutes of my precious time may not seem like a big deal. But what is a big deal is the cost of all this sitting around in a dark room making small talk... My insurer only pays for an eye exam every TWO years. But I can't order my contacts for two years... I can only order an annual supply. That means on the off year (like this year) I have to pay out of pocket for the exam. And my insurance only pays for the regular eye exam, not the "contact lens" exam or fitting, whatever that means. So, I had to pay $110 today to be told that my sight has not changed (something I already knew).

Another layer:
Last year I finally caved to the recommendation of my optometrist to go see an opthamologist (more expensive version of an optometrist with fancier machines) because my eye pressure was on the very edge of being "high." High eye pressure can be an indication of glaucoma, but it's VERY uncommon in people my age. A high eye pressure reading can also be caused by a thick cornea.

So, one would think that a doctor that sees someone my age with NO symptoms of glaucoma and use common sense and say, "This person probably has thick corneas." But noooo..... Every time I go to an eye exam I get a furrowed brow from the examiner and a concerned, "You know your eye pressure is high... You should probably have that looked at."

Like I said, I finally caved to this pressure and went to the over-priced opthamologist and sat through the two-hour process of having my pupils dilated only to be told at the end that - Surprise! - "Your eye pressure is fine. You just have thick corneas."
Funny. I didn't have to go to medical school to figure that out. And I didn't need a million-test to tell me that.

I don't remember what I spent on that visit, but I do know that I missed a full day of work and my husband had to drive me to and from the appointment.

This is one of the clearest examples of waste that I can think of in our health care system. Because of stupid state laws, I can't reorder my contacts. Because an optometrist is trying to protect his business, I have to get an unneeded exam. Because an optometrist is afraid I might sue if I ended up with glaucoma and he didn't recommend a specialized test, I had to miss an entire day of work.

Our health care system sucks. It doesn't have anything to do with the "uninsured" or illegal immigrants in our emergency rooms. It has everything to do with a system that's been allowed to grow to massive proportions and go completely unchecked.

We need less paranoia and more common sense in our doctors' offices.


  1. Hi Christina,
    Dan Hudak here. I feel your pain re: the bureaucracy and CYA nature of health care. But I also get it from the doctor's POV, given the number of frivolous lawsuits that get filed by people wanting a quick buck. I don't have a solution -- there are flaws with universal healthcare as well -- but something needs to change.

  2. Hmmm.... I thought I already commented on your comment, Dan, but it didn't take for some reason. Anyway, thanks for your response. Well said. And I really like your movie blog!