I have a bad knee. A knee replacement candidate bad knee. All courtesy of Kaiser Permanente. It is time they changed their slogan.
Their new slogan should be Kaiser Permanente. Thrifty.
One of the largest HMO’s in the country is Kaiser Permanente. As is the case with most HMO’s, and most insurance companies of any kind, they want you, the customer (and sometimes a patient) to pay them money, but not to collect on health care.
In the case of Kaiser, they wanted me to pay money, stay healthy, and not collect any health care. Why? Because health care costs money. Kaiser, as it is with most HMO’s, prefers money coming in, not money going out.
Many years ago I banged my knee on a large rock just off the beach in Waikiki. The pain was sufficient that within a few days I went to the nearby Kaiser Clinic. X-rays showed there was no fracture, so the prescription was for extra doses of Motrin until the pain subsided.
Unfortunately, the pain did not subside much, regardless of how much Motrin I took. In fact, the pain continued until I developed a limp. The medicine prescribed by Kaiser’s doctors went from Motrin, to Vioxx, to Bextra and various flavors in between.
The pain in the knee persisted. More x-rays divulged nothing more than joint inflammation. Really? What a shock.
Over the next couple of years the pain would increase and decrease depending upon medicine dosage. Finally, my patience had ended and I escalated my way through Kaiser’s layers of resistance to health care prevention. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) revealed a damaged knee joint. Surgery was offered as an option, but I was told that there would more than likely still be plenty of pain and discomfort.
Really? What a shock.
Thanks for the tip, Kaiser.
Shortly after that we changed our health insurance from Kaiser to a local system which allowed us to choose a primary care physician. I am most satisfied with Dr. Guy Yatsushiro and his no-nonsense approach to health. He referred me a specialist to look at my sore knee. Yes, still limping after all these years.
The knee specialist is at the other end of the Kaiser scale of non-health interference. He recommended knee replacement surgery right away. Uh. oh. What’s at the other end of the scale opposite thrifty?
I asked for alternatives and received a synthetic injection in the knee joint which improved mobility and lessened pain to a point where I could walk without a limp. Exercise helped, too. Kaiser Permanente didn’t prescribe the injections or recommend anything other than waiting. Why? Maybe knees are too expensive. After all, the cost of the injections are about what we paid Kaiser each month.
An improved diet, select supplements, and regular knee exercises have reduced the pain to almost nothing, though the knee joint is malformed from the years of inflammation and, now, osteoarthritis.
What did I learn from this event? Make noise about your health. Rattle the pots and pans until someone cooks up a proper diagnosis.
Oh, I also learned that Kaiser needs a new slogan. It should be: Kaiser Permanente. Thrifty. Not Thrive.