-5 C
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Bad experience with health system is symptom of a larger problem
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

I read in The Lake Report the letter from Bud and Leslie Moulson (“Broken leg and a broken system costs patient over $1,000 in medical bills,” Jan. 12) about Bud’s plight and am very sympathetic about his experience during his hospital stay.

It’s unfortunate, but I believe that it’s just one pebble on a whole beach of national and global health care problems. It’s all about money and no government has enough of it.

So, we have nurses going on strike south of the Canadian border and in the U.K., and no doubt other countries that just don’t make the news.

And those nurses south of the border are even offered recruiting bonuses, retention bonuses and other incentives. Someone has to pay for it.

South of the border, it’s the patient who pays– woe to those who can’t afford it. Here, it’s government – at more than one level.

I believe that Bud may have experienced what I first encountered in the American financial community some 40 years ago – value pricing.

If it costs the company $5 and it’s worth $50 to a desperate user – charge them $50. That’s a healthy profit margin. But who is getting that profit?

If it’s the hospital that benefits, it might be understandable. They all need more money.

If it’s the private sector that benefits from all these charges, maybe the hospital should at least be more aggressive about negotiating profit-sharing.

The best example of value pricing that I ever encountered was decades ago at the elegant Harrod’s department store in London.

If you wanted to use their washroom, it cost you 2 pounds (about $4) if you didn’t have a sales receipt.

Poised reluctantly at the entrance, your heart may have said, “That’s too much money” but your bladder pressure would have overcome any financial value reservations.

And hospital food?

A year ago, I had a stay at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. The food was fine.

I didn’t expect anything amazing. And I didn’t get anything amazing.

As a professional accountant, I know that it’s all about “cost per bed per day” and my priority would be to focus on providing fine nursing care over a steak (or even hamburger) dinner.

My hospital food “beef” (maybe I shouldn’t use that word) was the waste, particularly in the packaging.

Remember those little milk cartons at the school cafeteria? No pouring spout and King Kong himself could not have pried the cartons open.

And there were the nice pieces of packaged cheese – sealed more tightly than a space capsule.

 It was impossible enough for me to open and I cringe at the plight of the patient with arthritis. I saw many unopened packets taken to the garbage.

Bud, I have known you and Leslie for many years, and I sympathize with your experience.

Being in a hospital is no fun in any case. One is there because one needs to be.

The only consolation is that we have a hospital and you were able to access it. Please continue to recover.

And let’s hope that 2023 is a better year.

John Sayers

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