Wise Words From a Retired Hand Surgeon

Those of you who know me know I like wine. A lot. And food. Even more.

Put the two together and I’m there! So that’s where I was last night, at a wine tasting dinner enjoying the wines from Ferrari-Carano, which, by the way, are excellent and very reasonably priced (we bought a case).

We were sitting across from an older couple and, of course, got to talking. Turns out he’s a retired hand surgeon from New Jersey who retired to Williamsburg. He heard me say that I was giving a talk about healthcare reform.

“I figured out how to fix the healthcare system,” he said.

At this point, I kicked my husband under the table. I was sure I was about to be treated to some diatribe about “Obamacare” and getting the government out of healthcare, and vouchers and moochers (most members of the wine club that hosted the dinner are, ahem, somewhat conservative).

But I’m learning about Buddhism, trying to be more patient and to listen, really listen, rather than always jumping in. So I bit my lip, took a deep swallow of the red, and listened. Then he said the sentence that brought joy to my heart:

“We need to stop paying on a fee-for-service basis.”

And, as my husband says, I was off. He and I talked for the rest of the dinner, curing the nation’s healthcare woes, improving quality, reducing costs. We bemoaned the lack of a single-payer system, the fact that patients aren’t more engaged in their care and the cost and quality of that care, the depressing ignorance about the system amongst nearly everyone we know.

I was flying high by the end of the night, and it wasn’t just from the wine.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a lone wolf crying in the darkness, trying to get people to listen, to explain, to educate. Finding another soul who “gets it” was like getting an extra pour of a first-growth Bordeaux. Priceless.

2 Responses to “Wise Words From a Retired Hand Surgeon”

  1. Teri

    I hear your howl, lone wolf. I work as a nurse in an ambulatory clinic at a big hospital/university & the amount of unnecessary tests they run is staggering. And if you don’t have insurance, a simple visit will cost $365 & they won’t see you if you don’t pay.
    I’ve always said the way to fix this is to get rid of fee-for-service & put in the option of a single payer service.


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