There’s something poignant about this piece in the Wall Street Journal as a former doctor—now raising Christmas trees in Massachusetts—detailed his journey from doctor-as-community-member to doctor-as-cog-in-medical/government-bureaucracy.
As Americans hear about ObamaCare’s impact—the rising health care costs, increase in paperwork, the small doctors’ offices closing shop and consolidation into massive hospitals and treatment centers—they should keep Dr. Marsh’s story in mind.
It’s hard to put a value on what’s being lost as we move away from a world in which a doctor is a part of a town, watches kids as they grow up and people age. I just bet there is something lost in terms of health outcomes—that a doctor who knows someone’s history intimately is better able to see signs of problems, help find treatments that people will follow, and encourage healthier living—but I know that there is something lost in terms of quality of life.
My first two pregnancies were handled by the same doctors’ office: They knew my name when I came in and would ask how I was feeling. The nurses made a fuss over my first daughter anytime she accompanied me for a visit for pregnancy two. Because our family moves a lot, pregnancies three and four were handled by two different sets of doctors, neither of whom knew me. It didn’t matter health wise, but it certainly was more of a chore going to the regular checkups when I was just another faceless patient to be checked off the list and hustled through the line. I can imagine that if it wasn’t a pregnancy I was facing—if it were an ongoing condition in need of regular care—it would be much harder to keep with the program absent a relationship with a doctor.
Something is being lost in medicine. It’s been going on for some time, but ObamaCare takes us further down this path. There are many reasons—from the impact on the budget to the impact on medical innovation—that Americans should want to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but it’s damage to this patient-doctor relationship should not be overlooked.