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I see that in an effort to protect consumers, the Australian Government is looking at a suggestion that the medical profession should publicly display their fees, especially specialist doctors.

This is so the public can now choose the cheapest doctor.

What bright spark thought this up?

Cheap is good, right?

Would you buy the cheapest parachute?

Or maybe the cheapest tyres for your family car?

Many years ago I bemoaned this question to a medical doctor I knew. I said:

Merv. At least in medicine you dont have patients whinging about the price difference between what you charge and what their health fund rebates them.

And Dr. Merv said back to me:

David. I refer people to cardiologists that are great and they come back to me asking if I can send them to one who doesnt charge the gap.

Sometimes you simply cannot protect people from their own stupidity.

We’re talking about heart surgery here.

Life and death stuff.

Heart surgery. Something where you want the best?

It simply makes no sense to me to be choosing a health care provider based on price alone?

As I used to say when patients asked me about cheaper dentistry:

Every dentist knows what his work is worth.

And you need to be being paid what your work is worth.

I’m figuring that the Pareto Principle will kick in here with regard to the public choosing their specialist based on his fees.

Eighty percent of the population will be price conscious and twenty percent of the population will be service, skill, and experience conscious.

Which section of the population would you like to serve as your customers?

A True Story.

Twenty years ago, when laser eye surgery became popular for correcting short sightedness, I made the mistake of thinking that all ophthalmic surgeons were the same.

Well, aren’t they?

There was a choice of two different procedures. One procedure was called PRK, which put simply, involved the removal of epithelial tissue by what felt like scratching, so that the laser could access the cornea. The other choice was LASIK, which involved using a keratome to slice a flap of epithelium in a C-shape, so that the laser could access the cornea.

With LASIK, the flap is placed back after the laser, and the flap begins uniting. No stitches.

With PRK the epithelium needed time to grow back.

So back to me…. I chose to visit a firm of ophthalmic surgeons known to me. I was told by the surgeon I saw that LASIK was a very risky procedure and that PRK was much safer.

So I chose PRK.

Oh, I was also told by this surgeon that with PRK you needed to do one eye and let it recover, and then do the next eye several months later.

I had read that it was possible to have LASIK done on both eyes on the one day.

But I took this specialist’s advice, and I had the PRK done on my right eye.

It was the most painful procedure I have ever experienced.

Firstly, my right eye was covered for a week, and I needed to stay indoors away from direct sunlight and bright lights. I could not go out into direct sunlight for two weeks and when I returned to work, I used to have to drive the one mile to work with my right eye covered over because it watered profusely, even after the recovery time at home.

Needless to say I was not impressed.

I researched a LASIK doctor and consulted with him about having LASIK in my untreated left eye.

There was no way I was ever going to have PRK on my left eye.

Fast forward, and I had LASIK performed on my left eye by the new doctor.

The following morning after the surgery I removed the protective patch from my eye and drove myself twenty-five miles across town and back to have the surgery reviewed by my specialist. Without a hitch.

The surgeon said that my surgery was a great success.

In fact, the LASIK treatment to my left eye was so successful that I became aware that my PRK treated right eye had not been done as well as my LASIK treated left eye. As a consequence, I later had the PRK treated eye “topped up” with some LASIK.

And played eighteen holes of golf the very next day.

Are all specialist doctors the same?

Should I choose a specialist doctor only based on their fee?

I don’t think so….

Oh by the way…..

If all of the private health insurers were all compelled to publish ALL OF THEIR REBATES for every procedure then consumers could really make informed financial decisions on the part that really is purely financial transactions only…..

*****

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*****

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