Monday, March 22, 2010

Today we made history

Despite all the complaints I have in a prior post regarding joining the medical profession, I must admit there isn't a more exciting time in medicine than now, especially in the field of primary care which I dearly believe in. Today will be written down in history as the day that our society decided to move forward and become truly civilized - health care reform has passed. Just like slavery and other outrageously unfair practices we inflicted on our fellow human beings, pre-existing condition is a now a thing of the past.

After match day last week, I have encountered much skepticism from friends and family members when I told them I chose primary care. Is that still internal medicine? Can you still do GI/cardiology? Are you sure that's not family medicine?!?

Primary care at this point in time gets you no glory or money - I believe that will change, and health care reform has proven it. Even though we won't be earning significantly more in the near future, our values are recognized when the legislation included a provision that primary care doctors will be paid 100% of Medicare rates when caring for Medicaid patients (doctors should not be paid less when caring for poorer patients!). People in business know that managers have to be one of the smartest people in any organization, and this provision recognizes our value as managers and gatekeepers of your medical care.

Having an independent board consisting of medical professionals determining Medicare payments also holds a dear place in my heart. As an economics major and a QI enthusiast, I always struggle between being a good, comprehensive medical student ordering every test that's remotely relevant, and timidly presenting my superiors with evidence that the tests they wanted are unnecessary and harmful. After this provision, along with bundling of medical reimbursements, hopefully this struggle will lessen.

This monumental legislation has renewed my faith in health care - I am so honored to be able to share in its glory as I enter the next phase of my medical career in the same year it was passed. I can already see myself telling my grandkids about it - "Back in my days when I graduated from medical school, it was the year when Obama passed health care reform, and it's the last time anyone ever heard of pre-existing conditions!"

Check out a good summary of its benefits here. To all readers who are angry/skeptical, please have compassion for your fellow men and give this legislation time to prove itself. I definitely think it's a start of many great things to come.

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