With all the news about healthcare reform and the passage of Obamacare, we sat down to interview ER-DOX‘s own Dr. Kessler for his insight. After all, he did write a book about it! “We All Die Once” by Dr. Larry Kessler is a comprehensive examination of what has gone wrong with healthcare in America, and what we need to be aware of in order to fix it.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to become a doctor.
Inspiration is often difficult to fully assess its origins; however, I remember being told I was quite ill as a child with asthma. So many doctor visits, my parents recalled I would panic even at the butchers shop because he was wearing a white coat! Eventually, I outgrew the child affliction but my forte was science and medicine was a natural progression. Caring for people comes naturally to me and Emergency medicine is a field with such expansive variety, another natural selection for me.
2. You had a successful career as an emergency room doctor. What was the impetus behind opening up ER-DOX?
After working several years in a variety of ER’s, it became evident to me the vast majority of patients did not need the full services of the ER but lacked alternative options for care. When Brunswick Hospital closed in 2005, we opened ER-DOX across the street in an effort to provide walk in care for the community.
3. You’ve had a career in ER, you then start your own business, how did you fit in writing the book “We All Die Once”?
The book project took over 3 years to write. I devoted 1-2 days weekly to writing and research not knowing how much time and effort would be needed. Much to my amazement, 3 years passed! I did work with an editor throughout the entire process.
4. Do you remember a particular moment when you thought “I have to write about this”? What was it that inspired you to start writing?
Years of frustration over the diverging cost-benefit of monies spent on medical care, especially in the later years of life, when the cost is not absorbed by the patient of the family, rather the tax payers and remainder of the population. A study I recall from Detroit: The inclusion criteria were all nursing home patients who have not spoken or got up from bed on their own within the past year. The cost for caring for these patients would have added 1 teacher to every city classroom in Detroit for 10 years! Do we support people who are slowly dying no matter we do or education? Now, let’s understand, I am not in any way denying right to live, rather we need to address what quality there is to life and who is paying remains integral. We have finite resources and infinite demands, the 2 cannot co-exist. Reasonability is what our society needs to adopt on some level.
5. Your book focuses on the problems with America’s health care system, particularly with the insurance industry. You detail how insurance should be used for catastrophic events and that day to day healthcare should be paid for out of pocket. For the average American it’s hard to visualize that being a possibility since healthcare is so expensive. What would we need to do as a nation to make your proposal a reality?
It’s really not that hard to imagine. If the average young healthy person buys a health insurance product that offers to pay for all services, it has to cost more than the services provided otherwise the insurance company would not be profitable. At $400/month, that’s almost $5000 per year. If she sees the doctor 3-4 times per year for routine issues, the overall cost would not be more than $500. A huge savings. Insurance policies are nothing more than pre-paid spending accounts now. That’s not what insurance was designed for.
6. Since your book was published, Obamacare was passed into law. What positive and negative impacts do you think the passing of the law will have on healthcare in America?
It’s still too early to assess.
7. What aspects of the new law do you think are the most misunderstood by the general public?
As most people are not versed in reading public policy and law, we are subject to the interpretations of others. The promise of accessibility and affordability still remains suspect as far as who will incur the cost – the public, the employer or . . . ???
8. If we believe the media, it seems like political wars in government are hindering any real reform to our healthcare system. Public opinion also believes that drug companies are powerful and wealthy enough to dictate whether any real reform is passed. Do you think either of these are true and why?
The labyrinth of medicine prevents any one from understanding how the entire industry/entity works. Drug companies do dictate health policy-cost and distribution but are also restricted by government. Alternatively, they are empowered by public fear which acts as fuel by false promises of a system that should operate on a zero-miss rate and 100% guarantee of results – both of which are impossible.
9. Explain what you think the public needs to do in order to effect real change.
For true change to occur, education is the key. Reasonability and understanding: Medicine, while altruistic in its core is flawed by design and when operated under capitalism, for profit, there will always be rationing, access issue and cost variability. What society must accept is we will all enter the health system at one point in our lives. Some will improve, some will not. Our bodies are leased and the term is not disclosed when the lease starts. Inevitability is certain, we all die once.
10. Is there anything you are able to do as a doctor to make small changes on a local front? Explain how ER-DOX plays into your vision of personalized, affordable healthcare and what you see and hope for its future.
Yes! Doctors are the first line of defense in a medical system awry. Doctors need to practice reasonable medicine without fear of litigation when health turns sour. People need to be accountable and assume the responsibility of their health, health maintenance and life style. There is so much modern medicine can do to improve lives daily. There is more the average person can do to prevent disease and injury. Combining the two with a sense of reasonability, accountability and good faith will go a long way.
ER-DOX offers a sensible alternative for routine injuries and illnesses. We hope to impact the lives in our community by offering quality timely health care, advice, treatments and referrals when needed. It is our hope to remain a fixture of common health sense for many years to come.
Thanks so much for your insight Dr. Kessler! It’s great to hear reasonable, honest insight from someone on the front lines of the healthcare industry!
Be sure to check out Dr. Kessler’s book “We All Die Once” on Amazon! You can also view his website here and his Facebook page here! Have any questions about healthcare and healthcare reform in America? Ask away and Dr. Kessler will answer!