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Knowing What’s Important

The CBC correctly files this under its “Oddities” category: Air Canada ordered to pay Montreal doctor $1,000 for mid-air consultation

MONTREAL – Air Canada has been ordered to pay a Montreal doctor $1,000 in compensation for having to perform medical duties during an international flight in 2006.

That is less than the $3,058 initially sought by Dr. Henry Coopersmith, which he calculated as the equivalent of an executive-class fare, the value of medical services rendered and compensation for a day of vacation lost.

Coopersmith and his wife were on a Montreal-Paris flight on Oct. 11, 2006, when cabin crew implored him to help a woman who was suffering from an anxiety attack.

Coopersmith also had to fill out numerous forms and claimed he did not get any sleep during the transatlantic flight.

What a wonderful human being. Three thousand dollars for a consultation is what this guy thinks he’s worth and he filed suit to get it. I wouldn’t go to him on a bet with someone else’s money, because he obviously went into medicine for the paycheck.

6 comments

1 Steve Bates { 07.10.09 at 11:49 pm }

Oh, wow. That makes my IT consultant’s rate of… oh, now, in light of Dr. Coopersmith’s charge, I’m embarrassed to say what my fees are… seem insignificant by comparison. I understand the doctor’s wanting to be compensated, but jeebus cripes on a crutch, three grand?

This is a good reminder that insurance companies are only one aspect of the healthcare funding crisis. I could have told you that from personal experience in my wonderful post-medical-insurance life, but it’s more convincing if you hear it from Dr. Coopersmith.
.-= ´s last blog ..Friday Tour Blogging =-.

2 Badtux { 07.11.09 at 12:09 am }

Which points out the biggest problem of the current ObamaCare proposal. It is a healthcare *funding* proposal — a set of patches to the insurance system for paying for healthcare — not a *healthcare* proposal. Unless something is done on the provider side of things to rein in healthcare costs, this is going to solve the access problem, but not the fundamental problem — a healthcare system characterized by greed and waste that is bankrupting our nation. The same people on the provider side gaming the system for millions of dollars are going to just game the new funding system just as baldly as they game the current one, and the whole mess will just keep spiraling down the toilet as costs continue spiraling out of control. And people like Dr. Coopersmith are a perfect case in point of why that’s true.

– Badtux the Half-solution Penguin
.-= ´s last blog ..Why does the free market not work for healthcare? =-.

3 Bryan { 07.11.09 at 12:33 am }

If the flight crew couldn’t get the problem under control, they would have had to divert to the nearest airport and get the woman off the aircraft. He was doing himself and his vacation a favor by dealing with it. This was greed and a feeling of entitlement.

If he was worried, he could have passed but he chose to get involved. I would assume they tranked her, because they carry the meds these days, so he wasn’t asked to perform brain surgery with a sharpened plastic spoon. He needs to get over himself. No one is worth that kind of money for an office visit.

4 Bryan { 07.11.09 at 12:48 am }

One of the things that goes on locally that I would like to see made illegal is a group of doctors getting together to open diagnostic labs. If the doctors own it, they have a financial interest is seeing it get a lot of referrals which is a problem waiting to happen.

Medicine is the only industry I’m aware of where more businesses providing the same service results in higher prices, not lower. It’s like doctors believe they have to right to make a certain annual income, and when more of them show up in area, the prices rise to ensure that every doctor achieves that income.

5 Badtux { 07.11.09 at 1:11 am }

Yes, you mention a popular way to game the system. See, e.g., the sad story of McAllen Texas, the second most expensive health care in America because of this.

Every system gets gamed. The question is how to reduce it to an acceptable amount. For example, when Taiwan went single-payer with a single public health records system they removed pretty much all the ways to game the system via over-treatment, but because Taiwanese doctors are like veterinarians here in the US and also serve as pharmacies, Taiwanese doctors have gamed the system by over-prescribing medications.

Thing is, because Taiwan has a single payer and central records system, they’ve figured that out and are taking steps to deal with it. That’s impossible with the current US multi-payer system or ObamaCare modification thereof. Having a multi-payer system makes it too hard for the various payers to compare notes and figure out who is gaming them, even if that were allowed by anti-trust laws. Rising medical costs are a problem world-wide, but we’ve basically crippled ourselves here by giving us no effective way to even track who the people are who are gaming the system, much less somehow rein them in.

And of course, as the link below states, the free market inherently does not work for health care because pooling removes the immediate link between payment and cost, and you need pooling to cover the costs of things like, e.g, $1M for typical leukemia treatment or $650K for a heart transplant. Otherwise those advanced treatments simply aren’t possible for anyone other than millionaires. Without that immediate link between payment and cost, you’ve removed the primary means the free market uses to keep costs down, and costs just spiral up, up, up out of control unless there is serious government intervention to set rates and eliminate the side businesses currently being used to game the system.

Something is going to have to happen within eight years, because otherwise the nation is going to be bankrupted by our medical-industrial complex just as much as the Soviet Union was bankrupted by their military-industrial complex, but it is going to probably take a Taiwan-style meltdown — where they had 40% uninsured and people dying in the streets and implemented single-payer because they *had to* in order to prevent an armed revolt by the majority who were either uninsured or family or friends of the uninsured — before we get the health care system we need, rather than the one we have. And there is going to be one horrific lot of screaming from providers who have the clamps put down on them and insurers now in the same position as buggy makers, but there’s no choice — we can’t go the way we’re going without complete and utter disaster.

– Badtux the Healthcare Economics Penguin

6 Bryan { 07.11.09 at 2:37 pm }

One of the benefits of a single-payer system is the ability to actually do cost analysis on procedures and find out which treatments work, and which don’t. The question will be, will Congress allow failed procedures to be banned, because they have intervened to block a lot of oversight that is possible under the current system.

Congress doesn’t want oversight of the people who contribute to their re-election campaigns, or offer them jobs as lobbyists when the voters throw them out.

I am not going to agree to spend money on the criminal conspiracy that the health insurance industry has become. They can take their mandates and stuff them.