I had just written a response to a partner’s email regarding outpatient coverage and the focus of work-life balance. I think it’s a great initiative that she is tackling while brainstorming what could help the group with flexibility as well as some normalcy while raising a family.
This made me think of changes to antiquated practices we currently have in our work environment… primarily, paid maternity leave as well as paid sick leave (neither of which my group has or supports). Many of my male colleagues can continue to work and can take as little or much leave as they would like for family bonding or vacation time to spend with their newborns. This is their option. Unfortunately, the women physicians in our group are not afforded that same luxury. There is a 6 week medical leave of absence with a vaginal delivery or an 8 week leave of absence with a C/S as proposed by the OBs. During this time, we are not paid. State disability is a joke bc it’s not even enough to cover a mortgage payment. Look at other large companies, there’s often paid leave or sick leave available to the employees. Therefore, women who choose to have kids while working as a physician in our group are penalized, especially if they are the breadwinner.
Not only that, even while off on medical leave, we are required to pay ridiculously high premiums to cover the wide age gap of partners in our practice. I would be happy to look elsewhere for my medical coverage, but I simply cannot come off our medical insurance plan.
Therefore, I propose there be a fund set aside to create a pool or trust for persons creating families (just as we do for our more distinguished and elderly physician population with our health insurance plans and exorbitant premiums) who will have families and work in our group.
Here are some examples in the news of what is and has been in the pipelines….
I was shocked to see that the NHS could ban surgery for the obese and smokers. That’s socialized medicine. You take a conglomerate group of people (the UK) on a limited budget for healthcare… and basically find the cheapest most cost-effective way to deliver healthcare. But in a way, it’s empowering patients to take responsibility for their own health. Smoking, for sure — I agree 100% that surgery should be banned for this population. Obesity is a bit trickier — there’s genetics and environmental factors at play in this one. I don’t think anyone chooses to be obese. But, people do have the power to change their eating and exercise habits. Despite these efforts, there are some people who are still obese…. and these people should not be faulted.
Why single out the obese and smokers?
Smokers and the obese have elevated surgical risk and mortality, which means more cost to treat and hospitalize and provide ongoing care.
I think the NHS is on to something here. They’re opening doors to moving the liability and responsibility away from physicians and towards patients. This is a plus. Outsiders may see it as separatism and elitist to only provide care for people who are healthy. But look at the facts and the data…. obesity has a lot of co-morbidities associated. Smoking has a lot of co-morbidities associated as well. Why should physicians be penalized for re-admissions, poor wound healing, longer hospitalizations when the underlying conditions themselves are already challenging enough? In fact, I would urge insurance companies to provide incentives to patients/the insured with discounted rates for good and maintained health and wellness. With all the technologies, medications, and information out there, it’s time patients take responsibility for their own health. I take responsibility for mine — watching my diet, exercising, working on getting enough rest, maintaining activities to keep my mind and body engaged, meditating for rest and relaxation. It’s not easy, but my health is 100% my responsibility. I refuse to pass the buck to my husband, my family, my physician, etc. I do what I can to optimize my health and future — and if that doesn’t work… I call for backup.
Patients need to change their mindset re: health. It is not your spouse’s responsibility to track your meds. It is your responsibility to know your medical conditions and surgical history. The single most important (and thoughtful) thing a patient can do is keep an up-to-date list of medications, past/current medical history, surgical history, and allergies to bring to every doctor’s appointment and surgery. This helps streamline and bring to the forefront your conditions and how these will interplay with your medical and surgical plan and postoperative care. Please do not forget recreational drugs, smoking habit, and drinking habit in this list. It is very important to know all of these things. Also, your emotional history is very important. Depression, anxiety, failure to cope, etc. This all helps tie in your current living situation with stressors and your medical history.
Links for educating yourself in taking responsibility for your health: