The enormous challenge of revamping our nation's health care system has congressional leaders promising to work harder than ever. Some are even considering returning to work after lunches. Others are promising more fact-finding trips to beach resorts and lengthy, one-on-one interviews with experts in the bartending industry.
No one can say what a revised system may look like, but as we consumers brace for a possible new structure of health care delivery ("Hey, this medicine is cold and it took more than 30 minutes to get here, so I don't have to pay, right?"), we may need to turn to alternative methods to ensure the same level of quality care.
Because of recent events in my own life, I have come across an unexpected source of low-cost health care. It's not in any of the White House proposals, even though it has been an established part of the American medical system for more than 200 years. I'm talking about the well-established, yet underutilized, system of American veterinary medicine.
Now before you scoff at veterinary care for humans (What? You've scoffed already?), let me remind you that the veterinary industry is staffed by the same kind of highly qualified health professionals as your regular AMA types. Animal doctors study just as hard and take just as many courses as regular doctors. So what if medical students study six years longer. Can they really learn that much more by interning at a hospital? Of course not.
A veterinarian will treat you with the same courtesy and respect afforded to all patients. Probably more, since you don't have to be picked up and put on the table. And the stethoscope will never be cold - it just came off a warm golden retriever.