In light of all the furore about this seven buck co-payment proposed by the Government I've been thinking about the role of doctors in our society, and related issues. A few observations come to mind:
Firstly, I find it kind of odd that we talk about medical services as health care. I would say much of what falls under this rubric would be more accurately described as symptom maintenance.
Take general practitioners, for example. They are great if you've got some mechanical problem such as a busted toe or an open festering wound -- or if it's clear there's something deeply awry inside your body 'cause you're pissing blood or there's pus coming out of your ears.
Needless to say they're also great for general check-ups and screenings, etc, so you can be sure there isn't a giant tumour brewing in your arse or something ...
But quite frankly most of the time quacks are just doling out scrips to people! And those scrips are not meant to improve anyone's health (as in seriously address the cause of an issue, delivering a cure if possible). They're just meant to address symptoms.
I've had various ongoing, niggling issues that I've seen docs about over the years. And pretty much every visit I've had to a GP has been the same: The joint is always chockas. You get a coupla minutes with him max. He usually looks like shit warmed up himself, often stressed out and overweight. (That ol' quote "physician, heal thyself" comes to mind here.)
Seems to me that your average GP looks at you as if you're a non-sentient being; a lump of living flesh, basically. He just wants you to describe one or two key symptoms and check your vital signs so he knows you're not hurtling towards a meeting with the Grim Reaper.
If that's the case, of course he'll refer you to a specialist. But usually within a minute or two he'll whip out the prescription booklet -- if it's not open already -- and scrawl the name of some slick-sounding new drug his favourite pharmaceutical rep has just told him about. Then he'll hand it to you and wave you away so he can do the same thing for the next person.
Most of the time he won't even tell you anything about the powerful chemicals he's prescribing (aside from dosage instructions, etc). He just wants you to obey his orders and bugger off pronto. I guess he just figures that if you're still bothered by whatever symptoms you're experiencing you'll come back in a week or two so he can try something else ... and so on until you're satisfied.
This sausage factory approach is due to several factors, I believe. One of them is the immense power of the drug companies. Needless to say they are businesses first and foremost and their business model is usually all about treating symptoms, not curing people.
And it should be remembered that there are heaps of conditions, many of which manifest psychologically in major part, that can be hugely improved if not completely cured with the right approach. Countless people in this country are on several powerful symptom-masking drugs every day. But if they stopped eating crap, got off the cigs and booze, and did some bloody exercize, they could often throw most if not all of them away.
Now I know this anti-capitalist analysis makes me sound like a raging leftie. That's why I would I hasten to add that this business model has a lot in common with the worst aspects of nanny state socialism. As we all know there's a whole "industry" that depends on social dysfunction.
Basically, hordes of hand-wringing social worker types spend their every waking hour whining about the appalling, pervasive misery of various groups of people, then advocate exactly the policies that will exacerbate or perpetuate this dysfunction. It's a real misery go round, no doubt about it. And it creeps me out big time that so many pinko parasites want it to continue for their own selfish reasons.
Same with drug companies, and the countless quacks who are in their thrall.
What do you think? Is our medical system really about health care in the truest sense of the word?