What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

John Marcille

If you travel to the south of France, you may find yourself drawn to the lovely scenery in the neighborhood of the Lot River. You may stroll through the streets of a quiet village and let the clean country air fill your lungs.

I just hope you don’t get sick and spend most of your vacation in bed, as happened to me. After nearly a week of self-medicating with Imodium, I sought out a physician. I was in luck. The village had only a few hundred residents, but there was a doctor. I went to see her (two hours after I called for an appointment), she examined me and prescribed medication, and I was able leave my room at Le Galerie, a charming B&B, without fear within 24 hours. Just like that. No forms to fill out, no waiting. And the visit cost me just 23 Euros (about $30).

The medication, it turns out, is unavailable in the United States.

Every month we present articles to help clinical and C-suite executives do their jobs better, but we also pull back and look at the bigger picture, about remedies for the system. Our cover story concerning the obstacles to value-based insurance design is one such macro-look.

Throughout this issue you’ll see various approaches and recommendations for improvement, from our Q&A with Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health in which she lets us know what big employers want, to our new department called Evidence Review, which is a collaboration with the ECRI Institute that looks at the latest health care technologies. Yet, as our Viewpoint points out, it doesn’t matter unless the consumer sees a clear path.

This is not to say that we should adopt a single-payer system, such as they have in France. It’s merely to point out that when I was down and out in a foreign country, it was nice not having to fill out any damn papers, to have quick access to a physician, and to have a wonder medication that did the job. With our system in such a mess, we could learn a thing or two from others that have high public confidence.

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