Preview of Your Coming Attractions

When I retired after 40 years of writing columns for the San Jose Mercury News, I figured I'd said about all I could say. Wrong. I've realized that at age 76, I'm about 10 years older than the oldest baby boomers, who are now turning 66. My very average body has had a lot of experiences in those 10 years. I've learned a lot that could be helpful to people just starting on that same path -- what to do, what to avoid, what to keep an eye on.. Consider me your canary-in-the-coalmine for the boomer generation. Tune in regularly for the heads-up advice.

Monday, August 13, 2012

No Fear Here

     There have been all sorts of scary predictions about what will happen to patients once Obamacare goes fully into effect. But if it’s anything like the current care offered by Kaiser Permanente, maybe the fears are misplaced. Consider my recent experience with Kaiser after I noticed I was having some heart irregularity and shortness of breath.
     Fear: It’ll take forever to see your regular doctor.
     Reality: I emailed my doctor with my symptoms and was given an appointment that same day. She slapped me in the hospital for treatment of atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure.
     Fear: It’ll take forever to see a specialist.
     Reality: I was treated while hospitalized by a hospital doctor and a cardiologist, and an appointment was made with a cardiac surgeon.
     Fear: You’ll be denied the use of the latest medical devices.
     Reality: I was given an EKG while hospitalized and a CT scan with contrast immediately after my release. I’m scheduled for a cardiac catheterization and another EKG in the immediate future.
     Fear: Medical decisions affecting me will be made by bureaucrats.
     Reality: The doctors with whom I’ve spoken directly, not faceless bureaucrats or insurance company executives, thus far have made all medical decisions.
     Fear: Remember those “death panels?”
     Reality: It has been decided that I need heart surgery to repair a malfunctioning mitral valve that seems to be the source of my problems. This decision was made by my cardiac surgeon after discussing the situation with me. My age (76) and current state of health are good enough to make a positive outcome seem likely. Had I been older or my health worse, a surgical decision also would have been agreed upon by my surgeon and me.
     That’s the story so far. I’m scheduled for non-invasive valve repair/replacement surgery at the end of the month. I’ll let you know how that turns out. But if this were Obamacare – and run on the model established by Kaiser Permanente, -- I’d still have no fears.

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