Doctors should be like auto repair shops

Medical costs and health care have been a prime news topic this past year. I hear people say that consumers need to take more control in the costs they pay. Some say we should shop around. Really???

In recent years I’ve had some medical bills – the largest being a surgery. It seemed like everybody and their brother issued an invoice. I’ve tried asking a Doctor how much something would cost that they recommended – like an MRI. They never know.

It occurred to me that it would sure be convenient if the medical system worked like the service department at my car’s dealership. I tell them what I think is wrong – like A/C doesn’t cool – then they hook the Jeep up to a computer which verifies the A/C needs replaced. It may also indicate that spark plugs need changed and the radiator coolant needs adjusted. The Service Manager uses the computer to calculate the necessary parts and the labor charge per each repair. The printer spits out an estimated invoice of the total repairs for my approval. In Ohio, the final bill must be within 10% of the estimate. If they find some new repair once the vehicle is torn down, then they must present a new estimate for me to approve.

If the dealership operated like the medical field, I would never get an estimate and would get invoices from the Service Manager, the guy who replaced belts, the guy who put air in tires, the guy who changed the oil, and the gal who printed out all the invoices. I’d also get bills for all the parts from each of the categories of parts plus the time charge for use of the computer. All those bills would straggle in over a period of a couple of months. AND I could be totally surprised by the total of all bills and have no recourse to challenge the cost or to rethink to have the work done at another time.

Back to when I was preparing for the surgery, I was sent to multiple places for various tests and procedures. Given that I was in quite a bit of pain, this wasn’t easy to do plus scheduling each of the various pre-surgery procedures meant that all the appointments took about 3 weeks to complete. By the time the surgery was complete, and the Doctor visited me in the hospital, he said my body part was greatly infected. He said I should have gone to ER so the surgery was done 3 weeks ago!!!! DUH!

Perhaps the medical industry could stand to take a class in customer service, but with ObamaCare that’s not the direction we’re headed.

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