Giving thanks for our healthcare system — which needs reform

Take it from me, when your own well-being is at stake, you don't think twice when your doctor says, for instance, that you need an MRI. Cost isn't a factor at that point. In my case, I was fighting for the continued use of my hand.

I'm a fairly adept consumer. I shop around for the best deals. I don't buy things if I don't have the money. But I have only two hands, and I wasn't about to possibly sacrifice one of them for the sake of saving a buck.

With healthcare, you have to trust the experts. These are decisions that are beyond the capabilities of most people. High deductibles don't make us better healthcare consumers. They make us poorer consumers, and that's "poorer" in the sense of having a lot less money.

Our medical system is remarkable, but it needs to change. The emphasis should be on keeping us well, rather than fixing us when we're sick. But all the financial incentives at the moment are on dealing with problems after they arise.

Our insurance system, obviously, is a mess. About 50 million people in this country lack coverage. And for many who do have insurance, they don't have enough coverage.

I'll write about my hospital bill after it arrives. I can't wait to see what I was charged for six nights of care, not to mention the operation, the anesthesia, the antibiotics, the pills.

For the moment, I just want to say thanks. Thanks to all the doctors and nurses who got me through this thing. Thanks, too, to the insurance company that, as far as I know, didn't throw any roadblocks in the way of my treatment.

I typed this column with both my hands.

I'm very grateful for that.

David Lazarus' column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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