Sicko and Speaking Out on the Medical Industrial Complex
August 3, 2007
I saw Michael Moore's movie Sicko, a typically Moore-style documentary on the American medical industry. I can't say I was disillusioned by the movie - I didn't have many illusions to "dis" in the first place.
To be sure, Moore's take on anything is highly subjective, designed to convey his point of view in the most hyperbolic manner. But that doesn't mean he's completely wrong. He's not the first to say America's healthcare system is a disaster.
Most players in the medical device industry have to keep their mouths shut and play by the rules of the insurance companies. The reason is that they live or die on whether Medicare and the insurance companies will reimburse the use of their devices. In fact, devices are pretty much designed to create a reimbursable procedure. So there's a huge disincentive to speak out.
We're not in that boat, and we don't have to shut up about anything. The reason? A stethoscope is not paid for by insurance or Medicare. If someone buys a Thinklabs stethoscope, it's because it makes medical practice more rewarding in ways that transcend the purely financial, and our customers consider the sound to be superior.
A better stethoscope is about a better patient examination, about the rewards of figuring out a condition there and then, rather than being in the dark and having to make a non-specific referral. It's about the psychic rewards that make medical practice more enjoyable.
Medical "consultants" sometime come to me at medical conferences and tell me, "You have to find a way to make this reimbursable, and then you can charge thousands for your stethoscope."
No thanks. We'd rather make an honest living and have the freedom to speak our minds. The insurance companies are screwing the medical industry, and even if Moore exaggerates, we're happy that both he, and we, don't owe anything to anybody and can speak our minds.
I've written a lot about globalization and China's rise. But the one thing we certainly do better here than in China is free speech. Why would I sell that to an insurance company?