Podcast for 21 May 06 Posted by: Dale Franks
on Sunday, May 21, 2006
This week on the podcast, Bruce and I speak with Ezra Klein on the subject of health care.
For those of you who prefer it, the direct link to the podcast is here.
UPDATE [McQ]: There's a Connie Chung moment at the end of the podcast, but Ezra is too smart for us. Drat!
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I don’t know how old Ezra Klein is (he sounds very young, like in his idealistic 20’s) but I know that at that age, it was easy for me to discount the importance of choice in health care. That, of course, was before I had a neurologist who yelled out at his staff that I didn’t have the disease I’d been diagnosed with and ran out of the room yelling for them to give me tests they couldn’t administer in his office, then returned 15 minutes later totally calm and carrying an old-fashioned black leather doctor bag and wearing one of those old-fashioned reflectors on his forehead. I swear to God this man was, ahem, writing his own prescriptions. This guy lost my driver’s license paperwork, even though I filled out everything on the form except his signature, hand-delivered it to his office, and provided a self-addressed stamped envelope for him to send it in. I found out my license had been revoked when my insurance company cancelled my car insurance. I never wanted to go back to that doctor, but my primary care physician said I had to. See, at that time my husband was in the military and this guy was the only neurologist in my area that CHAMPUS would pay for. This is the sort of thing that would be a feature, not a bug, in government-provided health care.
I’ve had an OBGYN who flat-out told me I wasn’t having the symptoms I came to see him for and wouldn’t look at my medical history, a pediatrician who said "I don’t know what that rash is, go home and put some cream on it", and a GP who wanted to send my daughter to the big city for tests simply because she’s shorter than the average white kid (but normal height for an Asian one, which she is), even when I provided him a height chart for Asian girls. In each of these cases, thankfully I had a choice to go see whoever I damn well pleased and to buy insurance that covered what I needed them to cover. I found an OBGYN who listened, a dermatologist who prescribed a cream that made the rash go away, and a pediatrician who didn’t freak out because my daughter wasn’t a formula-fed white kid. Maybe Mr. Klein, being young, doesn’t go see the doctor very much and/or has not had very many negative experiences with doctors. I would never wish such experiences on him, but I do wish the wisdom that comes with such experience to inform his thinking about how much choice in health care people really do need.
It’s all well and good for Mr. Klein to talk idealistically about how health care for everyone would be better off with some cookie-cutter approach and to try to debate which cookie-cutter approach is scientifically proven to be the best. Me, I want to have as much choice in it as I possibly can, because what’s exactly right for me and mine may not be exactly right for you and yours.