Sweet Tweets

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Doctor's Labor

On this Labor Day, I'm thinking about why this holiday originally started and what it means to our lives today.  It was to celebrate the social and economic contributions of the American workforce.

It's often a day of rest, parties and end of summer beach weekends.

But, oddly enough, this weekend served to remind me of the path that American doctors are being forced to trudge down.

I may start to scream if I hear one more person claim that "health care is a right" in this country.  That it should be "free."  That doctors are greedy, money-grubbing, arrogant, rich and that it's such a shame since they used to work for the good of their patients and nothing else.  That the public has a right to physician's services, their efforts, their time, without placing any concrete value on it.

Does anyone else find it laughable when people complain more about plunking down an occasional $50 copay than they do paying their internet/cable and smart phone bill every month?

Let me introduce you to my husband.  He is in his 13th year of intense medical training.  He loves what he does.  And that's a good thing, since he's usually working a minimum of 12 hours every day, with many going to 14.  He works through the night, during weekends, and on holidays. He is on call every fourth night and weekend.  Which means he may work one full day, straight through that night and into the next day.  For the rest of his career.

When he is done we will owe in medical school debt what is comparable to a mortgage on a nice home.

He has been working for student's wages for all of these 13 years.  Often in towns where the cost of living is a heavy burden.

So, when I see my husband working three days in a row, 14+ hours each day, getting only three to four hours of sleep at night, then work through Labor Day weekend since that is his job, I want to laugh hysterically in the face of someone that thinks my husband's labor is their "right."

They may or may not be working the same kind of hours that he is, but probably not.  To the person that works 8-5, gets the weekends off, gets out a little early every so often on Fridays, will never be "on call" for even one night of their career, gets to be with their family for all of their holidays year in and year out, you have no "right" to claim that the sweat off of my husband's brow is for your free consumption.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to have a new establishment of the Labor Day holiday and what it truly represents.  That no one, not one single person, has the "right" to enjoy the product of another person's labor for free.

1 Remarks:

Karen said...

Ouch, I get it that you're peeved!

I, too, don't believe that your husband (or anyone for that matter) should work without getting paid.

Unlike you, I don't hear people expecting free medical care.
What I hear is that the cost is too high and simply unattainable. That isn't surprising since a higher portion of our US health dollar (sometimes as high as 31%) goes toward health insurance administration than any other industrialized country. It doesn’t go to the doctor and it certainly doesn’t help the patient. Our costs are also excessive due to more procedures ordered and redundant technology. We spend more and our health outcomes are less favorable than other countries. As a country we should and can do better.

There are a lot of statistics I can recite, but you most likely already know them.

As to the complaints on the $50 co-pay, that implies that a person has insurance. Most likely they are looking at their complete outlay (premiums, office co-pays, deductibles, drug costs and percentage co-pays) and realizing how much they are spending. For my own family our premium cost is $14,500 per year for two adults and one child. That’s what we pay IF we don’t have any trips to the doctor. I am grateful that we can afford this, but so many are unable or do not have employers who offer medical insurance.

Even in our present system under Medicare and Medicaid, physicians are not asked to work for free and to the best of my knowledge it is a choice for a physician to be associated with these government programs.

What is your thinking on the 40+ million folks who are uninsured in the US? I would especially be interested in reading your thoughts from a religious/moral point of view.

I think you have a unique perspective as the spouse of a physician and look forward to reading your blog!

KarenM in NC