Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rick Larsen Health Care "Stories"

Rick Larsen was soliciting health care stories. I'm sure he was looking for sob stories that he could use in congress's attempt to nationalize health care. Well, I sent him my story.

Dear Congressman Larsen,

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001. It was detected during a routine digital exam by my family physician. I immediately made an appointment with my urologist (which I quickly got). He did a digital exam, and ordered a biopsy, which was scheduled within a few days. The results came back within a few days.

I spent several weeks going over my options (do nothing, surgery, various forms of radiation treatment, etc.). I eventually opted for a new form of radiation treatment (seed implants). Dr. Thompson, my local radiologist in Bellingham had the procedure done on him by Dr. Blasko in at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle. It was a one-day outpatient procedure, and he competed in a swimming competition the next day. That sounded pretty encouraging, so I opted for that treatment. Since I was unusually young, Dr. Thompson was uneasy about performing the procedure on me, but recommended that I speak with Dr. Blasko.

Long story short, Dr. Blasko did the procedure. He is the inventor of the procedure, and he is considered to be the best in the business. Except for some "routine complications" (my prostate swelling shut, requiring the use of a urinary catheter for a couple of weeks), I have had a full recovery, without the frequent lifelong side-effects of prostate surgery (impotence and urinary incontinence). Dr. Thompson followed me for the five years post-treatment checkups.

The entire elapsed time from detection to cure was less than six months. My out-of-pocket expenses were minimal, using insurance through my employer. I am sure Dr. Blasko is very well paid for his service and his invention, as well as all of the people at Swedish, and Dr. Thompson in Bellingham. I received cutting-edge treatment with minimal hassle, pain, inconvenience and expense.

By limiting the amount of remuneration available to practitioners in any field, government run bureaucracies tend to have a dulling effect on innovation, availability and options. I have no doubt that I would have had fewer options, and seed implants probably would not have been invented. I would have probably had surgery, with all of the added risk, down-time and possible negative side effects.

I know that private health care is not perfect in this country -- nothing ever is. But it doesn't help to throw the baby out with the bath water, either. I know, proponents of national health care say that won't happen. Well, Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. We have seen government run health care deteriorate everywhere it's tried, including this country. "But this time it'll be different!" you say. No. It. Won't. "We have a better idea this time!" you say. No. You. Don't. Government run is government run. As soon as the government gets its talons in something, then the special interests and the exploiters line up around the block to get their meat hooks in the pie. The private health care system is already damaged largely by previous attempts by government to control the private economy, starting with wage and price controls in WWII, leading employers to offer health insurance and other benefits in lieu of higher pay. Unintended consequences have made medical insurance a necessary evil in this country, driving cost up. Medicare and medicaid also undermine the private health care system by undercutting the price structure and imposing heavy paperwork demands.

For once, I wish the government would back off, and let individual liberty, states' rights and the free market solve our problems, realizing that while imperfect, it is far more perfect than the nearest competitor, especially government.

Karl Uppiano

P.S. I wrote earlier with a more generic "story". My prostate cancer treatment went so smoothly, I forgot to mention it the first time.

Update: I also sent this to senator Patty Murray, who is also soliciting sob stories.

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