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Doctor Curmudgeon® Ben Franklin and Me


By Diane Batshaw-Eisman, M.D. FAAFP

This week, the old Curmudgeon had a mental bloppo.

I seemed to remember that great gentleman, Ben Franklin, saying something about insurance not meant to cover every penny of everything.

After fruitless hours of searching, I could not find that quote.

I did know that, in addition to being one of our Founding Fathers, he was the Father of mutual insurance.

I was hoping that, being a certified curmudgeon, I could channel him on that point, but he must have been busy as there was a huge waiting line. I did meet a few other curmudgeons, but that’s for another column
Serendipity is an interesting muse, because in the course of searching, I found an unrelated quote which I feel compelled to post here:

“No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe while our legislature is in session”
* * *

My door was partially open. As I sat in my office, getting chocolate crumbs on my keyboard, I heard goings-on at the front desk.

Assistant (a smile and gentleness in her voice): “Ms. Difficult, your co pay is twenty dollars. Would you prefer to pay by cash or credit card?

Patient: (With no smile and no gentleness in her voice): “What? Twenty dollars? I thought my insurance paid for everything? I don’t have time for this. I’m catching a plane for my vacation.”

There are many, many, many who believe that insurance must cover everything. But, to insure is to cover against catastrophe, not every single dime or penny or pence or ha’penny.

Where did we lose this concept?

I do remember my parents having insurance and I remember them paying what the insurance did not cover. It was so simple then.

If they were short of cash, they could always discuss this with the hospital or physician and make arrangements to pay it off and, quite often, get a decrease in the amount owed.

And along with that old fashioned concept of what insurance is meant to be, there are precepts that have disappeared:

Don’t expect something for nothing.

Take responsibility.

Have respect for others.

Honor those who have done their best for you.

As has been discussed and railed against and cried over and ranted about many times and coined by someone else (I would give credit and attribution but I do not know the individual who first used the word), we live in the age of “Entitlementiasis.”

The generation of “gimme, gimme” has metamorphosed into the age of “Entitlementiasis.”

And, I am sorely grieved by this. As, I believe, dear old Ben Franklin would be, if I could only channel the man.

Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.

SERMO www.sermo.com “talk real world medicine”

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