Last fall, I went with my 12-year-old son to his middle school's opening home football game. The bleachers were lined with parents, the smell of hot dogs and nachos wafted over the field, the announcer's voice blared, and the cheerleaders jumped out of sync. The boys were dressed in shoulder, chest, thigh and kneepads covered with clean white numbered uniforms. They each wore a helmet that seemed to weigh more than ...

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On the day the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its historic decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, I was rounding on my hospital patients: a man on the ventilator with pneumonia who had private insurance, one elderly woman with abdominal pain going for gall bladder surgery on Medicare, and one middle aged obese woman with a skin infection without any health insurance. On my patients' TV screens I watched ...

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Rarely do people think about medical costs when there is a medical emergency or an urgent need for a test. Recently, I was in such a situation. A few days after a 22-hour international flight, the calf muscle in my right leg began to ache. If it were not for the recent flight, or if I were not a doctor, I would have just let it pass. But long periods of sedentary ...

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In January, when my close friend’s lymph node biopsy came back as a rare form of T-cell lymphoma, I scoured the scientific literature. What was his prognosis?He was 56, a little overweight but otherwise healthy. He had helped us move into our home more than a decade ago, and I was like an uncle to his son and daughter. In the literature I found jagged graphs plunging downward, indicating that my ...

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Several years ago, during an annual mammogram, my wife, who is in her 40s, was told a mass had been found in one of her breasts. Anxious and uncertain, she had a biopsy, and we braced for the worst. My father-in-law, when in his 50s, went through a similarly harrowing experience when a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test given during a routine physical exam came out positive, and he underwent a ...

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My 64-year-old patient with terminal cancer and less than six months to live wanted to go to Oregon. He was contemplating assisted suicide, which is legal there. “My life has been long and good,” he said. “I believe it is my right. I want the ability to say it’s too much, I can’t do it anymore. A person should have a dignified quality of life.” Another one of my patients, an ...

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Not long ago, when my father was about to undergo a heart procedure, I hinted to the cardiologist, a colleague, that I wanted to be there, too, not just to offer comfort but also to be present for the play-by-play that would lead to a critical decision: whether to open his blocked arteries with a stent or to perform bypass surgery. Draped in an X-ray-shielding body suit over his blue ...

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A decade and a half ago, when I moved to Memphis, I proudly hung a sign outside an office I shared with another doctor. It had my name followed by an MD. I had started my own small business as a solo practitioner in medicine. Over the years, the practice has grown. I now have several employees and my own office, with the names of several other doctors alongside mine on ...

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