Health Care

Yes, I’m going there. But not for the reasons that you might expect. I’m not going to make this a right vs left, red vs blue, or bears vs packers issue.

I’m going about this from a bit of experience in the not so distant past. My wife and I had been traveling in another state and unfortunately had to take a trip to the emergency room. It was early in the morning when she fell ill. Its happened before and we basically run down to the ER, she gets an IV and we’re good to go in a few hours. We had narrowed down the condition but at 3 in the morning, neither one of us could remember what the heck it was. Its noted in her medical file back here in Des Moines.

Are you seeing where I’m going here?

The check in experience took 20 minutes while my wife was sitting there, not seeing a doctor, but definitely in need of some help. Not life threatening at this point mind you, but definitely beyond sitting in the waiting room waiting for 20 minutes of paper work, most of which I filled out. If we could have simply flashed an insurance card with a universal identifier that would allow the hospital the opportunity to pull up her health information. Primary doctor, recent visits, notes on the file, allergies, medications, issues, insurance company, weight, last checkup, etc. This would have saved valuable time and filled in the gaps that the doctor needed later on.

Now as an engineer, I can tell you that a system like this is very possible. It is also very very risky. But still very possible and there are many companies that are out there putting these types of systems in place. There is a good chance that if you live in a large enough city in the US, you have such a system in your local medical network. So your branch family medical practice can update your file on a regular basis for when you come in for a checkup or come down with the flu or some other virus. Then, god forbid, you have to go to the emergency room, they can pull up that information because they are in the same medical network. Its slick, convenient and your information is always up to date and available for the doctors on the network.

But the catch is “on the network”. What happens when you move? What happens if you are traveling and need to go to the ER and they are not part of the network as what happened in our situation.

I’m a libertarian and I have a hard time getting behind government control. But this is something that I think that our government can help get off the ground. The system needs to work with us. I’m not sure if it is a simple matter of put it all in one master system and let the networks pull from it like a central library. Or…do you have the smaller networks tie together with some sort of system for routing information between the networks. So my identification number is much like a phone number where it knows that the first 3 numbers of my ID area a zone or state routing so the network knows that it needs to head in that direction to grab the file that it needs to be securely pulled across the ‘net.


A lot of people will be afraid of this solution. It can be scary to have a centralized repository of this information as it will be a huge target for hackers. But I think that the system can be built. There are private networks that can be built up. Security checks and balances that will be required. Sure it will cost some money. But the overall savings and improvement to the health care system I think out weigh those costs. Now instead of 20 minutes to get in the door and extra tests that are done that are not needed since there is a full medical history gets us in and out of the hospital faster, and still provides a very high level of care if not better!

This isn’t part of the debate yet. Which is fine, we have other things to deal with like a–hole companies that are dropping guys like this guy.

I feel for the guy, I do. And I think that we need to take that insurance company out back and beat it around the head and shoulders until it gets a clue.

I’ve heard of other companies where their default answer is to deny the claim. No matter what, just deny it if it is over a certain amount. Then you have to re-submit the same paperwork and this time it will get through. But they figure that not everyone knows this trick so they get off by not paying. They purposely slow down the system and raise the costs by this one simple policy. And does it really save _that_ much money?

And don’t even get my started on pre-existing conditions. That statement alone makes me want to take a flame thrower to an insurance company.

Maybe the public option will fix all of this. But then again, it IS our government running that program which I have very little faith in them doing it well or cost effective.

So my fellow Americans, I urge you to write your representative. Write what you feel. Think of your situation and think of what it would be like to be told you have a curable disease, but insurance is going to deny it and you have no way of paying for it out of pocket. What would you do?

Matt Patterson avatar
About Matt Patterson
Husband, Father of 3, Programmer at heart, spends his days running ridiculously large data centers in the midwest.