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We're Driving Cadillacs In Our Dreams

Posted Nov 29th, 2019

We're Driving Cadillacs In Our Dreams

"Doctor's make way too much money." I remember this day vividly. I am sitting on my couch, 9 am in the morning, in our tiny apartment in Washington, DC. This is our 4th year of my husband's surgical residency. Surgical residency is a five year program after graduating from a four year medical school. At this point, however, my husband is actually into his 6th year of post graduate training due to doing a two year research fellowship between his 3rd and 4th year of surgical residency. We are struggling. Just surviving another move to help my husband advance is his career, we now have two children under the age of 3 and once again his hours at the hospital are grueling. I am alone. His time off revolves around going to any meeting to present his research papers, trying desperately to have his name and work published. He is hoping someone will recognize his work, recognize his name so that when he applies for the Holy Grail of the Pediatric Surgery Fellowship, he will get a spot. All of this traveling has taken a toll on our finances. To put it flatly we are broke. I am picking up per diem shifts at the hospital myself, as a Physical Therapist. It's the most cost effective way of supporting our family, yet we are still having trouble making ends meet, but we keep pushing forward. My husband has a dream, and I am his biggest believer and that is what's getting us through. We've had many dips in the road, many paths have been blocked. Our finances are weighing heavy on us, with his path in front of us still unknown. I no longer dare to open up his statement from Sallie Mae. His medical school loans are still being deferred, with interest piling. If I want to have a pleasant day, I just put this letter aside.

So here I am, just returning home from dropping off my oldest son to preschool, and our 1 year old is home with me for the day. I am getting my morning started with a cup of coffee and Good Morning America on the TV. The term Obamacare is starting to gain momentum and George Stephanopolous is interviewing a 'doctor' who is advising The President on the issues with our healthcare system. Intrigued and to be honest, quite scared with the career that my family has been indebted to now being in the hands of a politician, I sit quietly waiting to hear this interview. First question George asks, "Dr. what is wrong with healthcare." The man's response, " Well first, George, Doctor's make way too much money." The anger that rises from the pit of my stomach is overwhelming. A knot forms in my throat and tears well up in my eyes. "What?" I yell! Expletives fly out of my mouth and I startle my baby. "Second, blah blah blah..." It was something along the lines of reimbursement rates. I can no longer make out what this so-called expert is saying, or 'doctor' for that matter. I am not sure what his credentials are, but for any real Physician or anyone who works in healthcare, it is a struggle to get paid to for services. All insurance companies base what they will pay based on Medicare's rates and Medicare is run by the government, so how much more of a hand does the government want in healthcare? I cannot walk into the grocery store and not pay my bill. Should I tell the cashier, "Here's my insurance card. See what they will cover." A lawyer charges his/her own fees and politicians have better health care coverage than any one person who even works in health care. I'm pretty sure we should be focusing on the economy, so are we deflecting from what the real problem is here?

What happened to the American dream for those who work in health care? I know too many Physicians who are starting to close their doors because the over head to run their clinic is too expensive. I know surgeons, who after 30 years of practice are closing their businesses because they are not being reimbursed adequately for their surgeries. I hope one day this struggle with the government/healthcare will be a wash and my husband, whose paycheck nowhere near covers his hours at the hospital, doesn't have to worry about the politics of healthcare and can focus solely on his patients. We are pushing towards a European model of socialized medicine, with a government who does not cover the cost to go to medical school. Guess we will be driving a Cadillac soon... in our dreams.

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