Your biggest health complaint is . . .

John Taylor: August 29, 20070 Comments

We complain about premiums, co-pays, deductibles. We get PO'd trying to fathom PPOs. We get red-cheeked on learning it'll be three months till we get face-time with a dermatologist.


What's your biggest beef about the health care "system?" Mine is getting enough time with a doc so he reviews my medical history rather than expecting me to recite it in under 45 seconds. Last physical? New meds clashing with old meds? Why have you put on 10 pounds and 15 points on your diastolic? Those are mostly filed under "questions rarely asked."


Which is why I smiled on reading an article headlined, "Breaking even on 4 visits per day," by Dr. Brian R. Forrest in Family Practice Management magazine (also available via www.medscape.com )


Forrest operates a bare-bones medical practice -- doesn't take insurance or contract with insurers -- so he sees both the insured and the uninsured -- expects cash in full ($45 flat fee, plus any tests), does one- to two-hour house calls for $150 (house calls? -- look in dictionary under "archaic"), takes out his own trash, has a medical assistant and a nurse practitioner (all multi-taskers) and buys his office chairs and exam tables cheaply from hospital surplus.


Forrest covers his daily overhead with four patients a day. The reality is he usually sees 8 to 10 daily by appointment, and then absorbs walk-in traffic. And -- get this -- a patient coming his office in Apex, N.C. (near Raleigh, the research hub of the South) can expect to have 30 minutes or more direct contact with the doc!


I felt better (no consultation fee, no formulary medication) understanding that taking a step back was a big step forward. Especially true on a day when the U.S. Census Bureau said the nation's uninsured rose 2.2 million to 47 million in 2006.


The bureau said 58.7% of the uninsured worked full- or part-time, 73.2% were U.S. citizens, 18.1% had annual household incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 and 11.7% of kids were uninsured, up from 10.9% in 2005. Anything in those numbers you wanna complain about?