White Coats Outside the Capitol on Night of the State of the State Address: Future Doctors Concerned About Health Care

By David Miller
Second year medical student
University of California, Irvine

On Tuesday, Jan 9, the day of the State of the State address, 100 doctors and medical students marched on the capitol. Doctors normally don’t have time for social activism, although the capitol is a lovely place and the governor’s speech was interesting, we would rather be seeing patients. Time is so important to doctors, what could be more important? Patients!

Unfortunately our health care system is in crisis. Many of the underlying problems never make it into the spot light but the net result is that the price for health care is rising very fast and access to care is decreasing. Some of the problems that we see are insurance companies taking money from patients and turning them into profits or “administrative costs� instead of spending the money on patients. Paperwork is inefficient; every insurance company has their own billing system that frequently reject claims, and each provider feels obligated to collect exorbitant data on every patient to prevent law suits and for billing purposes of their own. Money is spent on tests simply so that a hospital/doctor is less likely to be sued.

We must even blame ourselves as patients. Many people do not take proper care of themselves and become unhealthy and require more expensive procedures. It would be more effective if we had a system that spent more effort on preventative care than on emergency care. Our society would be much more healthy if everyone could see a family doctor frequently and never ended up on dialysis.

As doctors and medical students, we are encouraged that the governor and many in the state assembly and senate are focusing on health care. Hopefully more money will be spent on education and primary care and less will be spent between hospitals fighting insurance companies to be paid. Hopefully malpractice expenses can be kept down and doctor-patient time increased. And the white coats will be back. Just next week ~250 medical students from California will come to the capitol demanding reform, simply demanding that California cover everyone. Let us hope that access to health care can be expanded, costs can be decreased and that Californians can be even healthier.
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