Letters: Readers comment on Medical Economics stories

June 10, 2011

Letters discuss reimbursement, malpractice reform, and bureaucracy.

A 'brilliant' message

After receiving a subtle "scolding" from our office manager implying that I was spending "a little too much time" with my initials, I found myself praying on my ride home that God would either: a) miraculously make me less neurotic, or b) give me some sign that I was doing the right thing by obtaining a comprehensive history to get a true picture of my new patients.

Lo and behold, while going through my mail, I flipped open my Medical Economics and spotted the article "Getting 'schooled' by patients" (by Gregory P. Zydiak, MD, in the March 25 issue).

So I just wanted to thank him for sharing and also let him know that I found his article so compelling that I even placed a photocopy of it on my office manager's desk with a Post-it note that said, "Kiss my grits." (Okay, I'm kidding about the Post-it.)

MICHELE L. BASSLER, MD
Buffalo, New York

Start using your muscles

I enjoyed reading "The payment gauntlet" (by Theodore Strange, MD, FACP, and Jeanne Gilreath, CHMBE, May 10 issue). It reflects my experiences very well. My question is: How much more of these absurdly low payments are we as physicians going to continue to accept? How much lower will these reimbursements get until we do something substantial?

As physicians, we are what makes the healthcare system work. As such, I believe it is time that we act the part and start using our muscles against the greedy insurance companies.

A recent article in the New York Times reports that the health insurance companies made record profits from 2009-2011, and yet they are in many cases asking for double-digit
increases in the premiums. Our patients and hospitals (and ourselves
included) are being shortchanged while the insurance industry is profiteering big time.

Perhaps we should drop our participation en masse with insurance companies one by one. It also might help if we insisted that the obnoxious term "provider" be deleted from the nomenclature. We studied hard to earn our degrees as doctors of
medicine, not providology.

It is my hope that together, as a profession, we can finally do something. The legal profession would never put up with this, and nor should we.

I do not think that most of us attended medical school and completed residency training to be employed in a big corporation as another cog in a machine. I think many of us went into the medical profession because of the autonomy it afforded us to help treat our patients to the best of our ability without all these intrusions by third parties.

Congratulations to the authors on their very timely article.

PHILIP A. GREENHILL, MD
Succasunna, New Jersey