I recently changed doctors. In fact, I switched to two new specialists because the first two kept trying to sell me things. It bothers me when I’m in a vulnerable state, which we always are in a doctor’s examining room, when after checking what I went there for, he/she suggests I partake of products offered for sale on the premises.
My Dermatologist began to push expensive services which are cosmetic in nature. I have nothing against cosmetic Dermatology, but that wasn’t the reason for my visit. However, after he excised the suspicious sunspots on my skin, I asked about a reddish place on my face, wondering if it was anything to worry about, and by way of answering my concern, he said “Just a minute, let me bring in my laser people.”
Before I could decline, the door to the examining room opened, the doctor exited, and a woman carrying laser brochures entered. She looked me over and surmised that for about $5,000-$6,000 for several treatments, she could make the reddish spots disappear. I asked, “But will they come back?” The answer was yes, “But you can always repeat the laser procedure again in the future.”
The other doctor I said goodbye to was my eye doctor. He’d had a shop adjacent to his office for some time, but they’d never tried to sell me things, so I walked past his boutique filled with designer eyeglass frames and headed to a less expensive dispensary to get my prescriptions filled.
The last visit, though, consisted of one part exam and three parts sales. First the receptionist pointed me to the shop and suggested I browse while waiting. Then the doctor finished the exam and left the room, returning with several eyeglass frames from his selection. I declined. And then I declined to make another appointment there.
This isn’t new, but it’s recently begun to bother me more. It’s not that I resent doctors finding new ways to make money, especially with insurance companies paying less of the cost of care, but I want to feel that my health is more important to them than their sales. I don’t even care if it’s true, just so I can continue to pretend it’s so.
Maybe you can separate science from sales, healing from hype, but I can’t. For me, getting a sales pitch along with an exam is full-service intimidation and I’m not willing to participate in practices (pardon the lame wordplay) that make me feel unsettled when I’m trying to look after my health.
I learned that you can Google doctors and read patient reviews. Not that someone else’s opinion is the final word, but I did find some reviews that mention whether the doctor pushes products as often as medical care.
It’s not just doctors. Decades ago, at a meeting with the minister who would perform our wedding ceremony, the preacher chatted with us for a few minutes, then handed us a packet containing brochures about life insurance. He was pastoring full time, but selling insurance on the side. We wondered, is he in touch with Someone who has knowledge of our future? Does he know something we don’t? There we were, young and in love, headed to our meeting with questions about the ceremony, but we left worrying about our beneficiaries.
I’m all for “additional revenue streams.” I embrace our capitalistic society, but assuming I can find them, I’ll continue to seek out doctors (and ministers) who stick to the main product I’m there for.
Ó By Anita Garner 2008