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How much does gender matter when choosing an OB/GYN?

October 3, 2012 in Medical Care

2012 will be my 15th year as a Urogynecologist – an OB/GYN who specializes in the treatment of incontinence and pelvic prolapse.  Every so often a patient will ask me or one of the staff members in my office “wouldn’t I be better off going to a female doctor for these problems?” This is a legitimate question.  As a male practitioner of women’s medicine and surgery, here are some of my thoughts:

One assumption you might make is that women must be inherently better as OB/GYN’s because of their personal experience of being female, but this isn’t as much of a plus as it might seem.  Sometimes your personal experience may actually impair your ability to empathize with someone having a different experience from you. If I was female and never experienced painful menstrual cramps and you (my patient) were terribly bothered by them, I might discount your experience.  Deep understanding and empathy come from participating in the care of thousands of women with gynecologic problems and all the different experiences they have, and choices that they make. 
Let me be clear.  I am NOT in any way implying that males are inherently BETTER as OB/GYN’s. All successful physicians derive their competency from the sum of their experience of listening to thousands of patients. I have not heard any discussion about whether or not only people who have had cancer can truly be competent as oncologists.  Read the rest of this entry →

Managing High Health Care Costs on Your Family’s Budget

July 22, 2012 in health care costs, Health Insurance, Hospital Bills, Insurance Bills, Medical Care, Medical Debt

Recent news on the costs of health care, in the U.S. and around the world, is focusing on what experts call “double digit levels” of annual increases. This is bad news for us, and troubling for the country as a whole. What it translates to is annual increases over 10%, where health care costs could conceivably double in a decade. Since this kind of price spike has been going on for a while already, many American families already consider major medical care to be priced above their ability to afford it.

Who Pays the Bill? 

Part of the particular desperation that has surrounded the American medical industry in the past few years has to do with who usually pays the bill.

In the past, employer group plans provided coverage for the majority of Americans. A few decades ago, this model was built on stable, long-term contracts between workers and companies, where those who stayed loyal to a business could expect to keep a job for life. Also, employers paid a major part of all premium costs.

In the present, however, we’ve felt the rise of health care prices. First, employers started to lower the premium amounts they were willing to pay. As jobs went overseas, employers laid off workers. Then, as the economy grew weaker, more lost jobs. An unemployment rate of over 10% means much more than lost wages: it means that many thousands of American families are suddenly left without coverage.

Meanwhile, the group plans that are left often do not pay the majority of premiums and often include high deductibles, which are also extremely expensive for the average family. In fact, some employers hardly pay anything toward premiums at all, while others provide “mini-medical” plans or other virtually useless coverage, or move full-time positions to part-time and thus avoid offering plans.

What Can You Do? Read the rest of this entry →