Today marks our first interview with general internist Dr. Medicine, America’s true health care representative —
TV interviewer Lolly Partridge: Thanks so much for coming to Superior TV! We’re so, so happy to have the famous Dr. Medicine.
Dr. Medicine: Thanks, Lolly. Traffic was murderous, and this show does keep me from paying the bills at the office. But it makes the PR department and the hospital CEO happy, so I can’t even say how glad I am to be here.
Partridge: Now remember our ground rules: keep it fluffy, one sentence answers, no science.
Dr. Medicine: I get the science part. But one sentence answers?
Dr. Medicine: You mean real short? OK. Can do. How’s that?
Dr. Medicine: So tell me Lolly – what do you really want to know?
Partridge: Why is American medicine in so much trouble?
Dr. Medicine: Who are you talking to? Psychologists? American medical care is thriving. We’re maybe 2.8, 2.9 trillion dollars this year. That’s 18 percent of the economy. Fantastic numbers. We’re the biggest business there is.
Partridge: Please, keep it short, Dr. Medicine.
Dr. Medicine: Oh. Right. Sorry. I’ll do better.
Partridge: So what are we getting for the money?
Dr. Medicine: The best, most expensive medical care money can buy.
Partridge: But doesn’t it cost too much? Aren’t medical costs the leading cause of personal bankruptcy?
Dr. Medicine: Please — that’s a political problem, not a medical problem.
Partridge: I see. What about the nation’s health. Why we do rank 50th in the world in lifespan?
Dr. Medicine: Come on, Lolly — that’s a health issue, not a medical issue.
Partridge: I’m sorry, Dr. Medicine. Could you explain?
Dr. Medicine: What improves a nation’s health is nutrition, sanitation, education, lifestyle – how people eat, exercise, play.
Partridge: Isn’t that what medicine is supposed to be about? Health, I mean?
Dr. Medicine: What? Not at all. What makes you think that? Doctors take care of people when they get sick.
Partridge: Don’t you try to prevent disease?
Dr. Medicine: Listen, we get paid for taking care of sick people. I’d be out of business fast spending time keeping people well or improving mental health. Everyone knows there’s no cash in that.
Partridge: So where does the money go?
Dr. Medicine: To people other than doctors who make real bucks — like hospitals and drug and device companies, and of course insurance companies. But when they make money, doctors also get some money — especially doing procedures.
Partridge: Surely it’s in the interest of insurance companies to keep people well?
Dr. Medicine: Where have you been living, Lolly? Insurance is about now, not years from now. Why would insurance companies help make future profits for their competitors?
Partridge: So what do doctors really do?
Dr. Medicine: What we always do – cure the sick, comfort the ill. Health, well-being, longevity — that’s big stuff, like philosophy. Not in my job description.
Partridge: Dr. Medicine, we don’t have much time left, but many viewers of our show are very interested in medical careers. Do you have any advice for them?
Dr. Medicine: Glad you asked that, Lolly. Trust me — it’s a privilege taking care of people. My only son Mitchell has long thought about investment banking or financial engineering. But now that he’s seen the banks blow up, the great attractions of medicine are finally reaching him. He’s gotten real interested in dermatology.
Partridge: Skin care?
Dr. Medicine: Very perceptive, Lolly. Right now the cash is in doing procedures. Cut a zit, zap a tumor. Plus there’s MOHS procedures — big cash. The average derm makes more in an hour than I can in a day. But health insurance is changing — fast. Procedures may get paid less but there’s this incredible future in skin. Mitchell sees amazing opportunities in nanotechnology inside branded skin products. Lolly, doctors are starting to think outside the box. Our newest ER doc just set up a clinic doing private butt lifts. Smart guy. Hard work and long hours may go out of style, but money and beauty never will.
Partridge: You’re so right. Thanks so much, Dr. Medicine. Can we talk with you again?
Dr. Medicine: Anytime. It would be my pleasure — and hopefully yours.