HOUSTON — As an independent patient advocate, I field phone calls and emails from upset, frustrated people who don’t understand their high medical bills that include incomprehensible explanations for the care they received. I deal mainly with people here in the Houston area and I network with my patient advocate colleagues around the country—and all of us have been grappling with a dysfunctional system that doesn’t seem to work very well for patients or doctors.

We needed something to connect these dots into a bigger picture—and this book is it. In their book “The Patient, the Doctor and the Bill Collector”, Robert Goff and Jerry Ashton use the metaphor of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man—the struggle between head and heart.

The head part? Our health care system has to be financially sustainable. If hospitals or ERs close due to money problems or doctors leave the profession due to the same reason—the very people and facilities that we expect will be there to save the lives of our loved ones might be gone. And if these are gone—the “Golden Hour” when the most critical medical care needs have to be delivered to save lives might come and go with no one to help us.

The heart part? It seems like not a day goes by that I don’t see a “Go Fund Me” page posted for medical costs with sad stories about people losing their homes and unable to afford basic necessities—it’s heartbreaking, but it’s also not sustainable. We can’t have people depending on the kindness of strangers instead of being able to have the dignity of finding some way to pay their own medical bills.

This books calls for our country, our society to have a long, hard conversation about our health care “system” (and as Robert Goff writes in one of his chapters—it’s a stretch to call it a coherent system).

No one likes to think about getting sick or having a terrible accident—but if we don’t think about this and have this discussion, we stand to lose our health care facilities on which we depend on for our care or being incapacitated by debt for the rest of our lives. For a productive society to go forward, this is no way to proceed.

Buy this book. Read it carefully. Then, take action.

Republished with gratitude to
Houston Health Advocacy
(July 28, 2016)