Outsourcing Health Care

By Howard J. Bennett, MD

The following memos were sent to presidential advisor Karl Rove from Greg Mankiw, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. They were discovered by my nephew Archie who is a janitor at the White House. Archie is a registered Republican, but he likes to vote for Democrats every once in a while.

Karl,

I had a great idea while I was watching The West Wing last night. Who’d have thought that a liberal show would inspire me, but I came up with a scheme that may clinch the fall election. I can’t give you the details now because Alan Greenspan just challenged me to an online chess match.

Greg

* * *

Karl,

Okay, here it is—It’s not that I went too far with the outsourcing thing a few weeks ago, it’s that I didn’t go far enough. Now that companies are sending service work overseas, it’s just a matter of time before the public is forced to accept outsourcing in other areas as well. And what’s one of the biggest drains on the economy? You guessed it—health care!

Oops, gotta run. It looks like Greenspan must have been practicing since our last match.

Greg

* * *

Karl,

As I was saying, outsourcing medical care is the way to go at this point. It’s very clear that the average American is fed up with what it costs to see a doctor these days. Since we took a public relations hit on the price tag for the Medicare Bill, it would show real compassion if we help people reduce their medical expenses.

Wait a second, Karl. My cell phone’s been ringing like mad today. I think this is someone from PAID (Patients Against Inconsiderate Doctors). Be back in a flash.

Greg

* * *

Karl,

Where was I? Oh, right. In the beginning, we should start off small. Ask Tom DeLay or Dennis Hastert to sponsor legislation allowing hospitals and medical offices to send blood tests, x-rays, biopsies, and the like to outside countries. India is a logical place to start since they’re already doing plenty of work for US corporations. Also, since many Indians get their medical training in the US to begin with, this should be a plus for most Americans.

Hold on a second, Karl. The chief at BlueCross BlueShield is returning my call. I’ll catch you later.

Greg

* * *

Karl,

The blues people love the idea. The CEO said that giving them a “green light” on India would reduce premiums by 20% in the first year alone! They agree that this is just the beginning. Once the population is used to getting lab results from outside the US, we’ll be able to expand services by actually sending patients abroad for medical care.

Hold on, Karl. There’s a fax coming in. This could be the polling data I’ve been waiting for.

Greg

* * *

Karl,

Great news. We floated my idea at a few town meetings in the Midwest. Here are some of the testimonials we received:

“I look forward to meeting doctors from other countries. I’m not worried about language barriers because I never understand what my doctor is telling me anyway.”

“I’d love to have surgery outside the US. It’s like getting medical care and a vacation at the same time.”

“It’s about time that someone put doctors in their place. In the old days, if a doctor charged too much, I’d switch practices. Now that I’m stuck with managed care, I love the idea of going to another country. Is France on the list?”

Wait a minute, Karl. Greenspan fell into my trap and nabbed my queen. I’ll have him on the ropes in no time.

Greg

* * *

Karl,

While I was finishing off the chairman, I got a call from the CEOs at United and Delta. They’re willing to provide discount rates for patient fares as long as we guarantee 90% occupancy on each plane we use. Once we’re rolling, we can set up “diagnosis-specific” flights. This will allow patients to commiserate with each other the way kids do when they take buses to summer camp. It will also enable us to keep contagious and non-contagious patients away from each other, which will get us some good press with the media.

Hold onto your hat! Tommy Thompson is on the phone, and he hangs out with lots of doctors these days.

Greg

* * *

Karl,

Whew! That was close. Tommy thinks it’s a terrific idea. He’s already talked to the folks at customs and came up with the idea of providing people with Freedom Cards, which will double as health care ID cards and passports for international travel.

I realize that we’re not in the clear yet. We’re certain to get a lot of flak from the Democrats and a number of interest groups. The American Medical Association will be up in arms over lost income, and the trial lawyers won’t like it because this model will leave them with fewer doctors to sue. The drug companies may or may not be with us. We’ll have to make sure they get enough tax breaks to offset any losses incurred by patients who fill their prescriptions before coming back to the US.

Hold on, Karl. It’s my doctor calling to confirm my upcoming physical.

Greg

* * *

Karl,

Bad news. My doctor just quit because his malpractice premiums are getting too high. I will have to find another doctor or I’ll be going to India with everyone else.

Greg

© 2012 Howard J. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.

(First published in Stitches, The Journal of Medical Humor May 2004.)

For more articles and other information,
please visit Dr. B’s website at http://www.howardjbennett.com

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