New York Congresswoman Says Patients Should Get Health Care on Their Own Terms

A chart shown at a recent conference in Boston identified high-risk cases as patients not covered by insurance that were being examined for self-diagnosis, according to health care industry journal Harvard Pilgrim. But the numbers the chart’s author, Chai Feldblum, failed to mention, were unrelated to right-to-try legislation, said advocates for right-to-try.

Some providers will stop performing major surgeries because they don’t feel it’s financially worth the expense, said Feldblum, a former Democratic member of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. One example was hip replacements.

Patients continue to undergo advanced treatments despite the potential risks without proper insurance coverage, and the rising cost of coverage drives costs higher for everyone.

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“The private insurance systems are used to look at treatment options based on whether there is a clear risk of harm,” Feldblum said. “Insurance companies, they want a bright line between good and bad care. But as more people become insured and develop cancer, the patient-provider relationship changes. [Patients] want treatments that doctors don’t agree to do.”

This is hardly novel. Doctors and policy makers have known for decades that federal law does not protect patients whose conditions were not covered by their health insurance.

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The same lack of laws and social norms that open the way for patients to self-diagnose and fly “ghost buses” across the country to access unlicensed doctors also undermines the public’s faith in the health care system, where “physician providers” have become so ubiquitous that even the most demanding patient will gladly settle for a plan option that makes sense to them.

The priority of medical decision-making, said Feldblum, should center on the patient and provide a path to healing.

“The cure is dependent on the cause,” Feldblum said. “And the more you talk about what you want, the more you look for an answer that doesn’t exist.”

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