Letter: This Doctor Rolls In A Geo Prizm, Not A Helicopter : Planet Money A listener objects to a Planet Money podcast about health care, saying we focused on the most abject stories about wasteful spending in hospitals.
NPR logo Letter: This Doctor Rolls In A Geo Prizm, Not A Helicopter

Letter: This Doctor Rolls In A Geo Prizm, Not A Helicopter

Not a helicopter: the 1997 Geo Prizm. Edmonds.com hide caption

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Friday's podcast about health care included the story of a doctor who'd asked his hospital for a helicopter to use in commuting. That struck Ronald Meyer of WBEZ land as ridiculous, on our part. He writes:

As one who has listened to virtually every podcast since you began last autumn, I can tell you that the foolishness over the helicopter rides for the doctor was not up to your usual standards. Imagine having a show about journalism, and focusing only on the most abject plagiarism. I believe you spent about 10 min acting as though all doctors commute in helicopters. Not true.

I am an anesthesiologist in suburban Chicago in my 26th year of practice. I commute in a 12 year old Geo Prizm. I typically awaken at 5:10 AM so I can get to work and make sure everything is safe for my 7:00 or 7:30 case. The hospital I work at is pleasant, but all they give us is a 9x15 "office" for members of our 16 person group to hang out between cases. An adjoining room is just big enough for a bed for the days I spend 24 hrs there.

Were he worried about costs, why did the hospital CEO you interviewed not "just say no?" A CEO is NOT the only one trying to be efficient and save money... anesthesiologists and other doctors try that all the time, and are often stymied.

I see all sorts of savings possible: reduce the number and salaries of unnecessary administrators address the issue of tort reform so doctors stop ordering tests they KNOW are a long shot to show anything stop direct-to-market advertising address the problem of the huge amounts of money spent on extravagant care of patients hopelessly ill or clearly at the end of their lives.

I have supported Barack Obama in IL since before he was a US Senator, I am for single-payer, income tax supported universal health care. But I can tell you that Congress, the administration, and you journalists are talking AROUND the essential points.

It is possible to improve our health care system while broadening access, but not as long as we as a society latch on to foolish solicisms.