Happy Holidays!

Several months ago, I wrote in this space that our current healthcare system really suits no one. The doctors aren’t happy. The nurses aren’t happy. Hospital administrators aren’t all that happy. Insurance companies. They seem to be satisfied. We need a system that works for us. We need to develop a system that puts patients first. A system where doctors can see patients quickly. Doctors can decide what tests to get and what medications to give without jumping through hoops. Sure, the system needs checks and balances. I don’t think that anybody wants a system where doctors run wild.

I watched a health insurance commercial in which some “average guy” told everybody how they needed to check their insurance every year. Somebody asked the obvious question: why? Because, he answered, health coverages change every year. My question to the TV is, why? Why would healthcare coverage change? I think that all Americans want basic healthcare coverage, including doctor visits, emergency room visits, coverage of prescription drugs, coverage of medical devices (wheelchairs, walkers, walking boots, crutches, etc.), full dental coverage, hospitalization coverage, and mental health coverage. If these are the basics, why would an insurance company change them? Well, the answer is that they’re trying to make more money. Therefore, they’ll vary your coverage not based on what you need but on what they want. By the way, why do we have insurance deductibles? We’re already paying premiums for insurance; what is the purpose of deductibles? As far as I can tell, a deductible is a deterrent. The deductible basically tells me not to use my insurance coverage unless I really need it. That’s nuts.

Rosalynn Carter
It was 1982 or 1983. I was a junior or senior at Emory University. President Jimmy Carter had joined the faculty at Emory. I had seen him around campus a couple of times. It’s hard to miss a president United States, former president of the United States walking around a university campus with three or four Secret Service agents flanking him. Anyway, I was invited to dinner with President and Mrs. Carter. It was me and approximately 15 of my student leader companions. I’ll never forget how nice and gracious both of them were. After dinner, we had a roundtable discussion. We asked questions. The former president and first lady answered the questions. I don’t recall any evasive answers. There were questions about the White House. There were questions about the failed rescue attempt of the hostages in Iran. I asked about his biggest regret concerning the Israeli–Palestinian situation. He said that his goal was to come up with a permanent solution. He regretted that he never did. As I recall, Rosalynn Carter was not a porcelain statue. She was an active participant in the conversation. I got the feeling that they were a team. They loved each other. They helped each other. They completed each other.

Very few of us live an exemplary life. Even celebrities that we put on a pedestal. When we put them under a microscope, many of them fall apart. Rosalynn Carter does not. She grew up in the Baptist Church. She believed in modesty. She believed in helping people experiencing poverty. She fought for better care and better access for the mentally ill. Mental health care improved in this country because of her tenacity. She was instrumental in the expansion of Habitat for Humanity. She founded the Institute for Caregivers. She was a powerful advocate for both women and children. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.

Rosalynn Carter died at the age of 96. At her funeral, someone said that her life was her eulogy. Rest in peace, Mrs. Carter.

Your Nerves
I want to ask you to protect your nerves this holiday season. Turn off the mainstream media. Don’t listen to Donald Trump. Spend some time with family and friends. Remember, our time on this earth is short. We need to spend time just loving each other. Happy holidays!

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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