I started my medical career working for one of the best, John R. Marsh, M.D., a man of principle, ethics and valor and by far the finest surgeon around. A man who would exchange fees for services when patients did not have money to pay their bills. Thirty years ago a doctor could survive that way, but not today.
Thirty years ago an office visit charge was $35 and the insurance company would reimburse $35. What the general public does not know is that doctors are not reimbursed what they bill the insurance company.
The doctor I work for now charges $95 for a new patient consultation and is lucky to receive a $50 reimbursement. He can spend three hours in the operating room saving a patient's life and expect to be reimbursed less than it costs to put a motor in your car.
The general public thinks that doctors charge exorbitant fees for their surgery and get reimbursed what they request. However, they are lucky to receive 25 percent more than they received 30 years ago for the same service.
Over the years, I have watched office staff dwindle down from 15 to five in an effort to cut expenses. I have watched doctors take out loans just to meet practice expenses. I have seen salaries and benefits cut.
Society on the whole is quick to judge and slow to act. The time to act is now. We need to get behind our doctors to keep quality medical care in this community.
We are fortunate to have quality medical professionals practicing in our community. We all should do what we can to keep them here.
Doctors aren't villains here
To the editor:
I have lived in this area all my life, and have worked in the medical field for 13 years. I feel that it is very important for this community to realize that the current "medical litigation crisis" affects everyone who lives here and beyond.
Not only is our health care in jeopardy, also the welfare of our community is at risk, due to the fact that the medical profession employs a large part of our community. Increases in malpractice premiums affect the patients, doctors, staff and public. If the doctors are unable to compensate their employees or feel the need to downsize, they may elect to leave their practice or relocate to another state. The result of downsizing puts an increased workload on already demanding positions. Doctors relocating jeopardize the quality of patient care and leave us unemployed.
The general public is quick to think that doctors are "money hungry" and are not putting patient care first. They are fighting for this cause to preserve our quality of healthcare. Our doctors are well-educated, hard-working individuals who care about us and also deserve to be compensated for their talent and efforts. Please support our doctors and be thankful we have them locally. Will a doctor be there for you?
Contact your legislator and tell them to support comprehensive reform. Log onto www.saveourdoctors.org for more information.
Insurance woes hurt patients, too
To the editor:
I have recently written to the newspaper to bring attention to the medical liability crisis. I am now writing to bring attention to another injustice regarding patients' losing their insurance and why we still need lawyers.
Just recently I had a patient with ovarian cancer who needed further surgery in Baltimore that was arranged by a gynocologic oncologist. Obviously, this patient was under tremendous stress and had missed work recuperating from her first surgery. Now, one day before going in for a second major surgery requiring 10-plus hours of operating time, her employer of six years notified her that she'd been terminated.
She not only lost her job; she would be losing her health insurance as well. Despite this, she underwent the surgery and is now fighting to recuperate and overcome her cancer. If the stress of all the surgery is not enough, now she has to worry about how she will pay for all this.
If you were like me, you would find it incredible that this could happen when someone is diagnosed with a serious illness requiring surgery and then is simply dropped by their insurance company.
Hopefully there is a lawyer out there somewhere who can assist my patient and get her coverage back, given that her only fault was to be unlucky enough to develop ovarian cancer.
There are more than 100,000 cases of breast cancer each year and other cancers such as lung and colon cancer. Should all these people suffer further the loss of their health insurance? My patient needs a good lawyer to help restore what should never have been taken from her - health insurance.
Jay B. Greenberg, M.D. F.A.C.O.G.