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Column: Roger's Soapbox

Stupidity: A Medical Mystery

By: | August 29, 2017 • 3 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

Civilization began some 8,000 years ago. Yet we have never sorted out health care. Man on the moon? Instant worldwide communications? No problem.

Efficient health care for all? Not a hope.

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Three main systems have been tried. In the U.S., whatever help you can afford is available, but millions can’t afford any.

In the UK, everyone is entitled to free health care, but must wait their turn. In parts of the East, health care premiums are paid only by the healthy, but not everyone can afford to be well.

The U.S. situation is fluid, and I know little of the Orient, but I can speak on socialized medicine. And I shall.

Insurers live by the law of averages (and golf). Having enjoyed pretty good health over my lifetime, the law of averages dictates that I would eventually need more frequent medical attention.

This summer, I met socialized medicine and fought it to a tie.

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) provides free care to anyone in the country for any reason.

It’s a wonderful concept, but an often harsh reality. Serious underfunding renders people and equipment scarce. That’s a recipe for catastrophe, but in the main it works. It’s probably impossible to effect political change that would improve it meaningfully.

We worship money, but it’s useless if you’re unwell. For all the great medical achievements, the best we can offer around the world is half-assed medical care. What are we, just stupid?

The politicians who so callously underfund the NHS have private health insurance. I have private health insurance, covering only major medical. It would move me nearer the front of the line in case of urgency.

When the first disorder appeared a few weeks ago, I went to a private hospital. The receptionist asked why I had not gone to the NHS. I said I didn’t want to eat up its limited resources, and would rather pay for treatment.

Too bad. One may not, by law, see a private doctor before seeing one’s NHS doctor to seek a referral. “This is not America!” the receptionist barked at me. How I wished it were, Trump and all.

Off, then, to my NHS doctor’s office to make an appointment. A 10-day wait to see him was required. On appeal, I was allowed to see a trainee doctor a few days later. She solved the problem: mission accomplished.

An unrelated serious disorder broke out a week later. On my way to book a doctor, I took a turn for the nurse — my father’s perennial joke when illness threatened. And so to the NHS emergency room.  A doctor diagnosed a severe infection and prescribed antibiotics, which led to manifold allergic reactions. That meant a visit to an NHS walk-in clinic.

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That very afternoon, a new problem arose. I’m a wreck, baby. Back to the emergency room. After four hours waiting, my symptoms disappeared, so I did too. Days later, I was back at the clinic, referred to emergency (jamais deux sans trois) and given steroids.

In all, I’ve seen four different doctors and three nurses, and received four medicines. Total cost: $0.

Steroids supposedly induce rage.

Here’s some rage: We worship money, but it’s useless if you’re unwell. For all the great medical achievements, the best we can offer around the world is half-assed medical care. What are we, just stupid?

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

The risk manager for Boyd Gaming Corp. says curiosity keeps him engaged, and continual education will be the key to managing emerging risks.
By: | May 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I was trained as an accountant, worked in public accounting and became a CPA. Being comfortable with numbers is helpful in my current role, and obviously, the language of business is financial statements, so it helps.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Working in finance in the corporate environment included the review of budgets and the analysis of business expenses. I quickly found the area of benefits and insurance — and how “accepting risk” impacted those expenses — to be fascinating. I asked a lot of questions. Be careful what you ask for — I soon found myself responsible for those insurance areas and haven’t looked back!

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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I have found the risk management community to be a close-knit group, whether that’s industry professionals, risk managers with other companies or support organizations like RIMS and other regional groups. The expertise of the carriers and specialty vendors to develop new products and programs, along with the appropriate education, will continue to be of key importance to companies going forward.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

As I’m sure many in the insurance field would agree, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 changed our world and our industry. It was a particularly intense time and certainly a baptism by fire for people like me who were relatively new to the industry. This event clearly accelerated the switch to the acceptance of more risk, which impacted mitigation strategies and programs.

Bob Berglund, vice president, benefits and insurance, Boyd Gaming Corp.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

The fast-paced threat that cyber security represents today. Our company, like so many companies, is reliant upon computers, software and IT expertise in our everyday existence. This new risk has forged an even stronger relationship between risk management and our IT department as we work together to address this growing threat.

Additionally, the shooting event in Las Vegas in 2017 will have an enduring impact on firms that host large gatherings and arena-style events all over the world, and our company is no exception.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

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With the various types of insurance programs we employ, I have been fortunate to work with most of the large national and international carriers — all of whom employ talented people with a vast array of resources.

R&I:  How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

We use brokers for many of our professional coverages, such as property, casualty, D&O and cyber. We are self-insured under our health plans, with close to 25,000 members. We tend to manage those programs internally and utilize direct relationships with carriers and specialty vendors to tailor a plan that works best for team members.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I have been fortunate to have worked alongside some smart and insightful people during my career. A key piece of advice, said in many different ways, has served me well. Simply stated: “Seek to understand before being understood.”

What this has meant to me is try everything you can to learn about something, new or old. After you have gained this knowledge, you can begin to access and maybe suggest changes or adjustments. Being curious has always been a personal enjoyment for me in business, and I have found people are more than willing to lend a hand, offer information and advice — you just need to ask. Building those alliances and foundations of knowledge on a subject matter makes tackling the future more exciting and fruitful.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Our benefit health plan is much more than handing out an insurance card at the beginning of the year. We encourage our team members and their families to learn about their personal health, get engaged in a variety of health and wellness programs and try to live life in the healthiest possible way. The result of that is literally hundreds of testimonials from our members every year on how they have lost weight, changed their lifestyle and gotten off medications. It is extremely rewarding and is a testament to [our] close-knit corporate culture.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

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Some will remember the volcano eruption in Iceland in spring of 2010. I was just finishing a week of meetings in London with Lloyd’s syndicates related to our property insurance placement when the airspace in England and most of northern Europe was shut down — no airplanes in or out! Flights were ultimately canceled for the following five days. Therefore, with a few other stranded visitors like myself, we experimented and tried out new restaurants every day until we could leave. It was a very interesting time!

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

I am originally from Canada, and I played ice hockey from the time I was four years old up until quite recently. Too many surgeries sadly forced my recent retirement.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

That’s a funny one … I am a CPA working in the casino industry, doing insurance and risk management, so neighbors and acquaintances think I either do tax returns or they think I’m a blackjack dealer at the casino!




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]