The Insurance-Hospital-Pharmaceutical Complex

The naiveté of the press when it covers medicine is wondrous. There isn’t any cockamamie nonsense they won’t swallow whole. Katherine Q Seelye has a piece in the New York Times that is about politics. I don’t know much about politics so I can’t comment on most of it. But in discussing the positions of the presidential candidates on universal health care she mentions the “insurance-hospital- pharmaceutical complex”. She appears to think that this nefarious complex has great influence over what happens to medical care.

I immediately asked myself how I could have missed this complex in over half a century of observing all things medical. I knew about the Oedipus complex, the Electra complex, the castration complex (this one may have something to do with politics), the Cassandra complex, the God complex (this may relate to medicine), the inferiority complex the messianic complex (think journalism), the Napoleon complex, the persecution complex, the superiority complex, and a bunch more. But I’d never come across the IHP complex.

Such a sinister and powerful entity implies organization. And if there’s one thing Medicine is not, it’s organized. Only the reality of immediate summary execution might change the way doctors or hospitals operate; it would probably take thousands to overcome the nonsystem’s inertia. And if there’s another thing we’re not, it’s closed mouthed. Even the CIA can keep a secret better than we can. Why do you think the government enacted the HIPAA law? An exercise in futility that any ride on a hospital elevator will prove. Do you think we could keep the IHP complex a secret from everyone but an intrepid investigative reporter? No body is in charge. Don’t worry about conspiracies. The reality is much worse.

So rest easy with the complexes you take to bed every night; there’s not a new one to worry about. Ms Seelye can keep this one for her very own.

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