Doctor Curmudgeon: Ben Franklin and Me

doctor curmudgeon, dr curmudgeon

This week, the old Curmudgeon had a mental bloppo.

I seemed to remember that great gentleman, Ben Franklin, saying something about insurance not meant to cover every penny of everything.

After fruitless hours of searching, I could not find that quote.

I did know that, in addition to being one of our Founding Fathers, he was the Father of mutual insurance.

I was hoping that, being a certified curmudgeon, I could channel him on that point, but he must have been busy as there was a huge waiting line.  I did meet a few other curmudgeons, but that’s for another column

Serendipity is an interesting muse, because in the course of searching, I found an unrelated quote which I feel compelled to post here:

“No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe while our legislature is in session”

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My door was partially open.  As I sat in my office, getting chocolate crumbs on my keyboard, I heard goings-on at the front desk.

Assistant (a smile and gentleness in her voice):  “Ma’am, your co pay is twenty dollars.  Would you prefer to pay by cash or credit card?”

Patient: (sounding unhappy and upset):  “What? Twenty dollars?  I thought my insurance paid for everything? I pay a ton of money every month.”

It’s true; most of us pay a very un-pretty penny each month for our insurance coverage.

There are many, many, many who believe that insurance must cover everything.  But, to insure is to cover against catastrophe, not cover every single dime or penny or pence or ha’penny.

Where did we lose this concept?

My parents had insurance and I remember them paying what the insurance did not cover.  It was so simple then.

If they were short of cash, they could always discuss this with the hospital or physician and make arrangements to pay it off and, quite often, get a decrease in the amount owed.

And along with that old fashioned concept of what insurance is meant to be, there are precepts that have disappeared:

Don’t expect something for nothing.

Take responsibility.

Have respect for others.

Honor those who have done their best for you.

I am grieved that we pay so much to protect our health.

I am grieved that many of us can afford a small copay of twenty dollars or so, yet become annoyed when the physician’s office asks for it. We feel we pay more than enough to the insurance industry. Yet, that copay is part of the physician’s reimbursement

Yes, I am sorely grieved by this.  As, I believe, dear old Ben Franklin would be … If I could only channel the man.


Read Doctor Curmudgeon as she talks about “Yes Virginia, there is still joy in medicine.”


Diane Batshaw EismanDoctor Curmudgeon is Diane Batshaw Eisman MD, FAAFP, a Family Physician, writer, voiceover artist, and medical educator. It was in the Neolithic Era that the doctor became renowned for expertise in Trephination. After so much time in practice, Doctor Curmudgeon is now cranky and has rightfully earned the honorific of “Curmudgeon.”

Doctor Curmudgeon has no idea of what will appear in this space. It depends on the Good Doctor’s mood and whatever shamans and doctors are channeled at the moment.

As a curmudgeon, I may stray from what I observe happening in medicine and slink into other areas. But that is the prerogative of a Curmudgeon.  Please check out my first book, “No Such Agency.”