Serving as a medical volunteer with DOCARE; This Medicare "hike" sure fooled me! Thanks for the inspiration!
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In "Practical tips for medical volunteers" [Mar. 21], ob/gyn Rebecca S. Kightlinger shared the lessons she learned on a weeklong medical mission treating patients in a garbage dump in Mexico City. If her story inspired any of your readers to consider a similar adventure, I'd like to direct them to DOCARE International, a medical outreach program that offers such volunteer opportunities.
Since 1961, DOCARE has brought health care to primitive and isolated people in remote areas in the Western Hemisphere. Earlier this year, DOCARE sent 228 participantsits largest group yetto Guatemala to provide much-needed medical care to Mayan and Indian patients. Previous missions have led volunteers to Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, and the Caribbean.
For more information on becoming a DOCARE volunteer, please visit www.docareintl.org .
At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful and greedy doctor, I'm having a bit of trouble celebrating our recent "great victory" in Congress: a 1.6% increase in Medicare reimbursement, rather than the 4.4% decrease originally announced. ["Update: This year's Medicare cut turns into a hike," Mar. 21].
This revised calculation still means I'm being reimbursed at nearly 4 percent less than I received in 2001 for the same services. Meanwhile, over the past three years, my malpractice insurance has increased 10 percent, the cost of health care for my employees 15 percent, my rent 100 percent, my fuel costs 20 percent, and even my trash removal 33 percent.
My bank account tells me I took a 25 percent pay cut last year. But with the government (and medicine's leadership!) telling me that a 1.6 percent increase is a good thing, I feel like I'm living in the Orwellian world of 1984.
I'm not unthankful for the new formula. But something must be done, or I may be forced to abandon not only Medicare, but medicine itself.
Bravo to internist Carole A. Sofio and her husband for their hands-on approach to managing their money through DRIPS, dividend reinvestment plans ["My do-it-myself mutual fund," Apr. 11]. It gave me hope that as a "late bloomer" who graduated from medical school at 40, I, too, can save enough to retire. Thank you so much for sharing.
Madeleine Long, MD
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Jul. 25, 2003;80:9.