Sick of the Fees

Like most people in America, I know there’s something wrong with the health care system.  (The only people who don’t know seem to be our members of Congress, who get some of the best medical care in the country.  More on them in a minute.)  I recently switched health care plans and thought it would be a good time to switch doctors, and reduce a thirty-minute drive to a five-minute trip.   In order to get my medical records (to which everyone has a right), I was required to send a letter to my doctor stating my request.  The first letter I sent was to my gynecologist, who in my case was a midwife.  The midwifery practice operates out of a small office in a strip mall, their walls are covered with simple health care posters, and their magazines are out of date.  They do no marketing, no fundraising, no direct mailing.  Within a week I received a copy of my records, mailed to me at their expense (roughly $4).  The second letter I sent was to my physician.  My physician is part of a large hospital with more than one location, well-decorated interiors, newly-constructed parking garages, artwork on the walls, and the latest magazines.  I receive monthly full-color mailings of brochures from this hospital requesting donations, because golly, I guess health care is expensive.  After three weeks of waiting I received a letter from this apparently cash-poor hospital, stating that they had received my request and that they would be charging me almost $30 for fees, including the cost of copying and mailing the forms.  (The hospital charged the maximum cost of a copy, which was set at 61¢ by, yes, Congress.  When’s the last time one of them was in Staples?)   Unlike Congress or the hospital, I know it doesn’t’t cost that much to copy and mail the forms; so where’s the rest of that money going?  A new couch?  A subscription to People Magazine?  A framed photo of the last ten presidents of the hospital?  I don’t know, but I know I’d trade a waiting room and a month-old magazine for universal health care.  If you want answers to our health care problems, follow the money.

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