Doctors should be 'fined' for making patients wait


September 24, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

While President Clinton's health care plan does address some major issues, it also misses the boat on what really concerns most Americans about doctors and health:

1. Waiting -- How can a doctor, who spent 20 years going to school, not know that if you schedule 29 patients for 9 a.m. appointments then 28 of them are going to have to wait?

Actually, 29 of them are going to have to wait.

That's because the doctor doesn't come in until 10:30.

What Clinton should have said about this Wednesday night: "Under my new plan, all patients must be seen by their doctors within 15 minutes of their appointment times. If a doctor does not see a patient within 15 minutes, the doctor will have to give up one game of golf for each patient he keeps waiting. We expect this punishment will ensure 100 percent compliance."

2. Undressing -- With new scanning equipment and other high-tech devices, it is no longer necessary for most patients to undress. The machines can see right through your clothes.

So doctors don't really have to make you get naked, they just do it to get a good laugh.

What Clinton should have said: "I know very few people who enjoy undressing in front of strangers. Actually, I know very few people who enjoy undressing in front of friends. Except maybe the Cabinet. In any case, under my new health care plan, people with bad bodies will no longer have to undress. Except in hospitals. In hospitals, they have to take away your clothes. Otherwise, you might run out without paying the bill."

3. Malpractice -- In some cities, firefighters and police officers are the same people. In other words, you are a firefighter for six months of the year and a cop for the other six months. That way, you get twice the skills in one person.

What Clinton should have said: "In the future, all doctors will also have to be malpractice attorneys. That way, they can practice medicine for the first six months of the year and then sue themselves for the second six months."

4. Salaries -- You think people have too many heart attacks now? There would be twice as many if people really knew what their doctors were making.

The average teacher in America makes about $28,000 a year. The average registered nurse makes about $33,000 a year. The average doctor makes $170,600 a year and specialists make much more.

Health care will cost Americans more than $900 billion in 1993. Half of that goes to doctors' salaries, and the other half goes to the companies that print insurance forms. Especially those forms that say: "Not covered. Please remit full balance of bill or your heart valve will be repossessed."

What Clinton should have said: "The average urologist in America made $195,900 last year while the average baseball player made $1,085,190 last year. Sure, that sounds high in comparison, but who'd buy a ticket to watch a urologist work?"

5. Attitude -- This is a true story: When I was in high school a bunch of us went over to this girl's house to rehearse the senior play. Her father was a doctor, and after about an hour he came downstairs and told us he had ordered a bunch of pizzas for us. We thought he was a really neat guy.

When the pizzas came, the doctor answered the door.

"Pizzas for Mr. Smith!" the delivery kid said.

"I didn't go the medical school for four years to be called mister!" the doctor screamed at him. "My name is Doctor Smith and now you're not getting a tip!"

What Clinton should have said: "The president of the United States gets called Mister President. The Chief Justice of the United States gets called Mister Chief Justice. So why does every little dweeb out of medical school get called doctor?

"Under my new health plan, nobody will be called doctor unless he or she has actually saved a life. Otherwise, they will be known as Mister or Ms. Medical Practitioner Second Class."

6. Perspective -- What the president should have said: "Let's keep in mind that doctors are not the enemy. They are health givers and healers. They should be respected and admired.

"On the other hand, let's keep in mind that one half of all doctors graduated in the bottom of their class."

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