The door to exam room 1 opened, and Doctor Gillis breezed in, Gary’s chart in hand. “Morning, Gary,” he said cheerfully. “How are you?”
Gary waved back and said “Great, just a checkup today. The factory’s making me get a quick physical for our insurance thing.”
Dr. Gillis raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, good. Still smoking?”
“Yes,” admitted Gary, “But I’m down to only one or two a day.”
“I gotta tell you,” the doctor sighed, “There’s no good outlook there. You need to stop smoking. I don’t care if you try cold turkey again, or if you get a patch, or whatever, but you have to stop.”
“I know, I know. I’ll quit today. Again.”
Dr. Gillis flipped through the information compiled by the nurse. “Hmm. Your triglycerides are high, and with your history of high cholesterol, that’s worrisome. Blood pressure is up quite a bit since you were here. Have you been eating and exercising?”
Gary smiled. “Been eating. Actually, I get a pretty good workout at the factory. It’s just the only place to get lunch at the factory is this burger and hot dog place on the corner.”
Dr. Gillis looked directly at Gary. “You need to pack a lunch, then. These numbers are terrible. I won’t lie—you technically have hypertension, and since your mom and dad both had heart disease, these numbers are bad. If we can get you to eat maybe turkey on whole grain bread, water, and carrot sticks or whatever, we can turn this around in a few months.”
Gary nodded. “That’s what my wife says. Once again, I’ll go tell her she’s right and that I’ll start bringing my lunch to work.” Gary chuckled to himself. “Probably save myself some money, too.”
Dr. Gillis snapped the manila folder closed and said, “Are you planning to vote Democratic or Republican in 2012?”
Gary’s eyes bulged for a second and he screwed his eyes incredulously onto the doctor. “Um. Is that a… a medical question?”
Dr. Gillis nodded. “Yes, it is. You really need to think about voting Republican in 2012.”
Gary laughed once, in disbelief. “I think that’s a little…well, personal, no? What does that have to do with anything?”
Dr. Gillis took a quick, deep breath. “Look, I can advise you to quit smoking because it is in your long-term health interests. And I can advise you to change your diet for the same reason. Likewise, you need to think about voting Republican. It really is in your own health interest.” Dr. Gillis raised a hand. “Okay, wait, let me explain. Basically, if any Republican candidate is elected, they’re going to repeal Obama’s health care plan, and that is in your interest.”
Gary rolled his eyes. “Here we go.”
“First, you know there’s a good chance I won’t necessarily be your doctor. His comment about keeping the doctor you have is pure nonsense, just as changing healthcare plans can put me out of your network. With Obamacare, I can be put out of any network.
“Second, we are already seeing some clear examples of rationing. You’re perfectly in that demographic—over 50, lower middle class, male—that won’t be as worthwhile to a government board to save.”
“Third, most of the best doctors will leave medical practice to go into research. You may not realize it, but doctors don’t make the massive amounts of money you think they do. Sure, we can get a good paycheck, but most of my money goes to pay the salaries of the staff here, the rent on this building, and for utilities here. What’s left goes mostly to pay my student loans—which are bigger than any other student loan on average—and to pay freaking awful insurance premiums for malpractice. Doctors, even though they drive a nicer car and have a pretty nice house—on average have very little money invested or saved for retirement. It’s usually all liquid just to pay bills.”
“All right,” agreed Gary hesitantly.
“Now, when a doctor takes on a Medicare or Medicaid patient, we typically lose money compared to seeing a patient with basic health insurance. Under Obamacare, every patient theoretically becomes a Medicare patient. Doctors will lose money that way, driving a lot of them out.”
“I see,” said Gary.
“It gets worse. With the government writing the checks, more people will see this as a limitless supply of money. As a result, the number of bullshit malpractice suits will skyrocket. And the government, not surprisingly, will settle on nearly every one of them because they lack the medical acumen to distinguish legitimate cases from made up ones. And they’re going to turn that right around and take that money from the doctors. Our government malpractice insurance payments will triple or even quadruple. Why on earth would we want to stay in medicine?”
“Wow,” was all Gary could say.
“So all you’ll be left with are the hack doctors, because the smart ones will get out fast. And the new, incoming doctors will be less motivated and less financially able to deliver medicine. I can assure you this will severely downgrade your short-term health outlook. So, just as I can advise you to quit smoking and to eat right, as your doctor, I feel I ought to advise you to vote for the GOP in 2012.”
Dr. Gillis opened the file folder again. “All right, you say you’ve been exercising at work?”
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.