April 24, 2020
I have written about healthcare issues for several years. Under the blog name Frugal Family Doctor (http://frugalfamilydoctor.blogspot.com/), I authored around 175 short pieces between November of 2011 and July of 2015. After a hiatus, I am writing again. As my blog name implied, I am concerned about the high costs of healthcare in the US. My blog posts attracted only modest attention, so I am trying a different strategy.
Over the last 18 months I have been writing a biography of a brilliant family doctor named Richard Buker. Doctor Buker, who died in June of 2018, was my doctor. He was also my inspiration, my mentor and my friend. His death prompted me to write again about healthcare using his story in addition to my essays to scrutinize some problems. Many years ago a wise educator taught me that story changes things that facts alone cannot penetrate.
Buker was an amazing man and an original among family practice doctors. He started at a time when general practitioners in small communities did everything themselves. Buker performed surgeries, delivered babies, attended patients in hospital and nursing home, made house calls and endured long hours seeing multitudes of people who sought care in his clinic. He was unique in many ways, but one of his extreme character traits was frugality. Richard was the child of missionaries who did not charge for their services. Throughout his practice life he worked hard to keep his fees low. His efforts to keep costs down in his venues are legendary
Richard’s life and stories are entertaining and, at times, difficult to believe. That alone makes his biography a compelling read. My abiding concerns about the enormous expenses devoted to healthcare in the US are advanced in some respects by recounting Buker’s saga. I think we pay too much, seek too much, are offered too much that does not work well and I fear that the consequence is a dangerous drain on our country. I also regret that our (my) venerated profession of medical doctoring is being tarnished by ongoing profiteering.
My hope is that aspects of Doctor Buker’s life might encourage us to challenge the medical industry in constructive ways. I plan to resume blogging now that the biography is completed. Please read Windblown, The Remarkable Life of Richard S. Buker Jr., M.D., A Family Doctor. The book will be available soon at https://www.publishingconceptsllc.com/product-category/healthcare/.