To us, health care always meant what the doctor and nurse did: put a cast on, give an immunization shot, take out your tonsils, plus Mom’s home remedies: Vicks, cough medicine, reading stories andJell-O for the patient, that kind of thing.
Today, health care means medical insurance. You and your family may not see a medical professional for years, but you pay for medical insurance, and it’s now called health care.
We wondered about the change in language, but then noticed that friends were going to the doctor all the time. “I cut my finger!” Go to the doctor. “I just sneezed!” Go to the doctor. “I bumped my knee, sprained my ankle, have a headache, am depressed…” Go to the doctor.
Many people have grown to expect, nay, demand, “free” health care, because they or their employer pay for medical insurance. Now, the insurance is synonymous with the service that is being insured.
We were moved to these ruminations by seeing a couple of news items on the subject. First, Americans Get Too Much Health Care Their Docs Say.
In a new poll of primary care physicians, nearly half of them said their patients received too much medical care and more than a quarter said they were practicing more aggressively than they’d like to.
That could mean ordering more tests, prescribing more drugs or diagnosing people with diseases, although they would never have experienced any symptoms.
Is it any wonder then, that insurance costs have skyrocketed? Just the other day, the WSJ reported that:
The health-insurance premiums employers pay rose sharply this year, with the average annual cost of family coverage passing the $15,000 mark for the first time, according to a major survey.
In the early days of her reporting career, IFO interviewed the county health department doctor. No one knew just how old he was, but he was OLD – probably in his 90s, so he must have been born in 1885 or so. We were interviewing him for a story we were doing on physical examinations for athletes. He thought it was a waste of time. To find any subtle health problems, he said, like a bad heart, the tests were prohibitively expensive.
“Besides,” and here’s what he said that has stuck in our mind “Most people are healthy most of the time.”