DJH: In case you didn’t know, I had a Total Hip Replacement Thursday night. It was at the New England Baptist Hospital, which specializes in major elective surgeries like spines, hips, knees, etc. My story is a little unusual, but it demonstrates exactly why we have the best health care system on earth and what has been put to risk with Obamacare.
I won’t bore you with the details of my ailments, but I will tell you that it took over a year to diagnose my left leg problems as hip arthritis. I live in Southeastern Massachusetts, near a typical suburban healthcare center in Dartmouth MA. At first, we thought it was a knee problem and then spine. Since spines are serious stuff, I decided it was worth the trip to Boston (to New England Baptist) to see Dr. Eric Woodard. He looked at my back MRI and said it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t the source of my problem. He was the first one to suggest that I might have a hip problem. That was April 28th, about one month ago.
I immediately started researching hip replacement on the Internet and by the time I met with my first hip surgeon, I already knew that there were new techniques available that minimized muscle damage, recovery precautions, and resulted in very quick recoveries — that’s what I wanted!
On May 11th, I met Dr. Carl Talmo (also at NEBH) who specialized in all of these new techniques. I immediately told him I wanted him to replace my hip and that I would take any cancellation that opened up in his schedule. Within a few days, we were booked for May 27th — 16 days after I met Carl.
What a great decision? I was out of the hospital in 2 days and walking within 3 days (although a little shakey I admit).
What does this have to do with Obamacare?
Let’s start with New England Baptist. It’s a great private hospital that prides itself on innovative techniques. It attracts the best surgeons for the same reason that the New York Yankees attract the best baseball players; the best want to work with the best and get paid for their performance. The halls of NEBH are lined with plaques honoring the thousands of private donations that made the hospital possible. The NEBH is truly a hospital where great doctors go to seek perfection in their trade. They earn good money and they are supported in great part by grateful patients; all of this is brought to you by the private sector.
Here’s the thing, along the way, I met surgeons who haven’t learned these new techniques. Sure, they do a good surgery, but the patient takes months to recover. Their patients are stuck using a walker and all sorts of devices to hobble through life. But, bad as this sounds, these surgeons are all very busy. They have plenty of patients and a 6-8 week wait for surgery. These guys are not willing to take the time and buy the equipment needed to do the kind of work Dr. Talmo is doing at NEBH.
The beauty of our system is that we provide the kind of entrepreneurial environment that produces guys like Talmo and rewards him for discovering and perfecting the kind of medical breakthroughs that enable me to walk 4 days after getting a new titanium hip. And, under our current health care system, I can choose the surgeon I want.
Hip Replacement in Canada
A recurring claim from the left during the Obamacare debate was “it will be wonderful — just like Canada, and everyone in Canada loves their healthcare system!” While I was researching hip replacement options, I discovered this woman in Canada named Sigrid Macdonald. Sigrid had a hip replacement like mine and wrote a book about it called Getting Hip.
The idea of the book and her blog: Sigrid’s Recovery, is to provide hip replacement patients with tons of tips for preparing for hip replacement surgery and then dealing with the months of recovery that follows. Clearly, it is a book that assumes the reader gets the “Canadian Version” of hip replacement. As I contrast my own experience with her blog, the differences make your hair stand on end; here are just two:
Waiting Time: As I said, a total of 16 days elapsed between my first meeting with Dr. Talmo and my hip replacement. Here’s what Sigrid had to say about waiting times under Canada’s National Healthcare system:
“We have universal health care in Canada. When it works properly, our Medicare system is fantastic because everyone is insured. Health coverage is a right in this country, not a privilege. However our health care system is overburdened and under funded. Consequently, there are long waiting list to get in to see a specialist and even longer lists for surgery. I had to wait 18 months for my operation. This was in addition to the 18 months that it took to decide that I was going to have the joint replaced. That translated into three completely lost years for me.”
Three freaking years! I can tell you that I would not have survived waiting three years for my new hip; but wait, there’s more:
Recovery Time: Since heath care in Canada is provided by the government, they don’t tend to be on the leading edge of new techniques. In fact, if you go to the government in Canada for a new hip, you get one using the traditional technique. Keep in mind that I’m walking after 4 days when you read what Sigrid said about here recovery time in Canada:
“I had a significant degree of pain and swelling in my leg that lingered for months after my THR. Although I was only 50 years old, which is young in the world of hip replacements, I needed to use a walker for more than ten weeks. I spent an additional eight weeks on a cane. Instead of feeling well three months after the surgery, my hip did not feel anywhere near normal until five or six months postoperatively.”
This is so sad, and so unnecessary. Americans need to get past all of the Disneyland promises regarding Obamacare and look at what we really have and compare it to the “models” Barrack Obama has laid out for us. The contrast is painfully striking. Today, I just talked about Hip Replacement, but think about all of the other specialized techniques in the medical world, and think about all of the innovative doctors and surgeons of tomorrow who are now rethinking their career plans in light of the oncoming government takeover of health care.
I really think we need to keep up the good fight and vote for candidates who will repeal Obamcare. The alternative is just unthinkable!