Popcorn, Lasers, Rudy, Golfers: Woes of Healthcare


I get the NY Times e-mail for movie reviews.  I got it today, in fact.  I don't really watch many movies in the theater (I have long lost the stomach to be able to pay that much for what I will be able to rent later), but I like to keep up on the popular culture and know what to rent when they do finally come out. 
So when today's came I was surprised to find a little nugget tucked away in the middle of the newsletter:

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No, it wasn't the Ethanol Stock News or the cruises that caught my eye, it was the fact that a physician group was advertising to little ol' me in Georgia in case I wanted my spine operated on.  My spine is fine, however, and so I went to the website out of curiosity rather than a real interest in getting lasers aimed at my back.

The Laser Spine Institute website looks really nice.  It plays very loud music when you enter, so be careful you are not at a meeting when you surf on over there.  There is a "mute" link in the upper right corner.  There is much information about back problems and laser surgeries to fix them.  Unfortunately, there is virtually no information about where this place is located.  I had to look around quite a bit to find that they are actually located int Tampa, FL.  I guess this makes sense, given the number of New Yorkers living in Florida (Who knows, it could have been the reason Rudy Giuliani spent so much time in Florida - it was not a campaign strategy, it was a nagging case of sciatica).

I am not certain what demographic that reads the movie reviews in the NY times is especially well-suited to laser surgery on the back.  Perhaps the chairs in movie theaters are not as good as the seem.  Perhaps folks who watch movies are more likely to think lasers are "cool as heck."  Perhaps they figure anyone who is willing to pay $5 for a box of Junior Mints and $10 for a hot dog is a worthwhile demographic to tap into.  Sounds reasonable to me.

While I am not sure about any of this, from the website, it seems that this place looks pretty good.  Even Peter Jacobson (as pictured below in his mug shot) the golfer has used them.

It appears his back is not bothering him.

So the obvious question is, why am I writing about this?  Well, I find it quite interesting that some doctors in Tampa should be advertising in the Movies e-mail of the New York Times.  We have an ad in the phone book (that costs us a bundle), but we have yet to land someone as prominent as Peter Jacobson (although I do have a shirt that looks like his).
This does say something about our system;  primary care physicians are getting more scarce, people have no money for drugs that they need, primary care physicians cannot buy an EMR for their office as it costs in excess of $50,000 per doctor (often), yet these physicians in Tampa can afford easily that much for an ad in the NY Times e-mail, reaching out to patients all over the country, and even the world. 

Despite the opinions of some, we really do have a two-tiered system in this country.  There are the haves (the procedure specialists and those who perform cosmetic procedures) whose income is growing, and the have-nots (the thinkers and those who coordinate care for the average person) whose income is dwindling.  Here we have a healthcare crisis, and yet have some people becoming tycoons off of the same system.

Odd.

Sad.

I smell popcorn.

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