Friday, April 24, 2009

Pet or National Treasure?

Uwe Reinhardt's Seriously, What Is a Child? is right on target.
An intriguing question to which I have sought the answer ever since coming to these shores is what Americans think of children. Do they view children as the human analogs of pets? Or do they view them, as do most Europeans and Asians, as precious national treasures? Perhaps a mixture of both?
We have about 3.3 working-age Americans per elderly American in this country now. According to the Social Security Trustees, that ratio will decline to close to about 2 by the 2030. In light of this trend alone, can anyone doubt that children really are precious? We should give medals to parents who have them, not penalize them financially.
The post is concerned with funding of health care for children, but it is applicable to any of the costs associated with raising children. If society benefits from well-educated taxpayers, then who should shoulder the burden of paying for education? What about health and disability insurance and pensions for parents (mostly mothers) who reduce their market work to take on the extra family work? Do we owe them something, too?

Do read the whole thing. Sadly, the comments have been hijacked by nuts comparing helping parents with Nazi eugenics. Seriously.

I am Ms./Dr. Crankypants this week because a small health matter for Iris turned out to be a very scary matter, due to her own reckless behavior. She doesn't want me to blog about the specifics, but I did my part, dragging the doctor into this century. When consulting with him on the phone about whether I should take her in to his office again, I asked if I could email him a picture of the affected area. (He had to consult with his staff to learn his email address, but he had one.) A minute after I pressed send, he called back saying that it was a very impressive picture. We both looked at the pix in high res on our computer screens and decided that it wasn't necessary to come in again that day. He wants me to email him follow-up pictures of the site though.

Insufficient Margin


  1. None of my doctors communicate by email or would accept photos. Most of them don't know they have an email address, and even those that do would never communicate directly with patients which is a shame because it would help so much and I think benefit them as much as their patients.

    I am always impressed with my SIL's doctors in Boston as she is able to email them with questions and they respond to questions or phone calls, and will comment on photos/other data. The few times I have been referred to doctors at Harvard and Columbia, they are always happy to communicate via email or telephone and are always responsive.

    With my doctors here, it seems to be a terrible imposition and all communication must go through a nurse/intermediary which results is delays and sometimes unnecessary office visits. But I really don't know if its the doctors who can't be bothered or the office staff who have convinced the doctors that it would be an imposition. It is probably a combination of both.

  2. Oh, and I hope Iris is better too.

  3. Me again. I just read the article which is fabulous, and as you state, right on target. But it the comments are amazing; really I can't believe what sets some people off. But then again, don't the comments just prove the point?

  4. That's only the 3rd doctor who gave me their email address.

    One did it because I periodically lose my voice and so there was no way I could call and speak to his staff.

    Another said that patients sometimes abuse email by innundating her with many messages. She is paid for seeing patients, but not for answering their Q via email. I send her journal articles and a link to an artist I thought she might like. (From her office artwork, I knew she'd like it.) She did discuss the findings of the journal articles and artists' online portfolio and thank me for passing on the info.

    I thought about emailing the photo because I watched another doctor and patient pair at the infusion clinic when I had a PICC line. The dr was concerned about the other patient's infected knee and the upcoming weekend. The dr was not on call and didn't want to drive in to take a quick look each day. Then his eye wandered over to the patient's cell phone and he asked if there was a camera in the phone.

    He whisked his camera/phone out and told the patient to take a picture and send it to xxx-xxxx. He looked at his phone's screen and said, 'Send me a photo of your knee every 12 hours and I will text you if it looks ok or if we should both drive in to the after hours clinic right away.'


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