Sunday, February 19, 2012

Letters to the Editor

A little something I wrote in response to somebody who claimed that the lack of preventative care is what makes US medicine so expensive.
On a cash only basis, a primary care physician can provide continuity of care and routine maintenance for about $40 a visit. That’s under a day’s wage at the federal minimum wage. Is devoting two days of your labor a year (as the absolute worst case) to do routine checkups an unreasonable expectation? I do not believe so.
And for the very small minority where it’s the case, yes, there are doctors willing to provide free care if they know that they are not being taken advantage of. Just don’t expect to drive to the clinic in a car worth more than your doctor’s, with a cell phone that’s better than your doctor’s and expect the free care option.
What specific vaccinations are a problem? I just looked up the CDC’s posted price list and most of them are a buck or two a dose. The most expensive seem to be the zoster and HPV vaccines and those are under $15 each. Vaccines are one time expenses, not recurring, and many of them can be gotten for free from your local county because maintaining herd immunity is worth the expense of providing free vaccinations.
Speaking as someone who has had to juggle credit cards to pay for cancer care (a relative’s, not my own), I can feel your pain. But you’re missing some of the most important parts of the problem.