Topeka doctor airs frustrations with health care system in new book
By Karrey Britt
on December 25, 2011
Dr. Kipp Van Camp, an interventional radiologist in Topeka, is frustrated with the health care system and instead of just grumbling about it, he decided to write a book.
Among his frustrations are the high costs for care and the need for tort reform. He’s really irked about global health care rankings. He said often organizations are not comparing apples to apples, especially for infant mortality and life expectancy. He said the U.S. should be near the top in both categories.
“That’s been insulting. Health care in America is good and someone needs to talk about this stuff,” he said.
Van Camp said the book, “Misdiagnosis: A Practicing Physician’s Case Study in Health Care Reform,” covers the history of how we got to where we are, identifies what’s wrong and right with the system, provides details about the Affordable Care Act, and provides solutions.
“My goal is to bring about an awareness, to educate, and to debunk some myths,” he said.
Van Camp, 48, grew up in Colby and graduated from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. For three years, he was a family doctor in Weston, Mo., were he did everything from deliver babies to appendectomies. He decided to go back to school because he didn’t like the demanding hours and pushing paperwork instead of caring for patients. He became a radiologist and then an interventional radiologist, who does image-guided procedures. For example, if a woman finds a lump in her breast, an interventional radiologist does the biopsy to see if it’s cancerous.
Van Camp owns a radiology company called Critical Imaging Associates in Topeka. He’s also one of two hosts on a medical radio talk show called Doctor’s Orders, which airs on stations in Topeka and Kansas City.
In a 45-minute telephone interview this week, Van Camp covered a variety of topics contained in his book. Here are a few of the highlights:
• Pushing paperwork — He said navigating the increasing mandates for insurance coverage is reducing the time doctors are caring for patients. In 1979, there were 252 state mandates in place across the country, an average of five requirements per state. By 2009, there were 2,133, an average of 42 per state. “Patients are noticing the impact when they are increasingly being treated by nurse practitioners and not physicians,” he said. “It’s a trend that’s not going away.
• Tort reform — He said Congress should have included tort reform in the Affordable Care Act. “There are so many frivolous lawsuits that come in this country that it’s absolutely ridiculous,” Van Camp said. He said doctors are afraid they will get sued if they don’t do every high-tech test possible, which drives up costs. He said Texas has done an overhaul of their legal system and studies have shown it’s lowered health costs and drawn more doctors to the state. “Tort reform affects everyone because of the unnecessary costs it adds to already costly health care.”
• High-tech generation — Van Camp also blames the high cost of health care on society. He said Americans want the latest, greatest technology and medicine and as quickly as possible, but they aren’t willing to pay for it. “When you have high technology, you are going to spend a whole lot of money and America wants technology,” he said.
• Decision-making — While everyone wants the best medicine and tests, not everyone gets it. He said insurance companies have started making those decisions instead of doctors and patients. Van Camp said if an insurance company won’t pay for a drug, we have the ability to appeal it at the state level. He fears with health reform that appeals process will be taken away.
• Mandating insurance —He believes there is merit to a mandate because there are Americans who can afford insurance, but choose to spend their money elsewhere. When those Americans end up in the emergency room, hospitals are required to care for them. He said there may be years of wrangling over the bill but if it’s not paid, it costs the taxpayers. Under health reform, Van Camp thinks there should be an option to buy just catastrophic coverage.
He’s also concerned about the exemptions that fall under the Affordable Care Act. Among them: Christian scientists, American Indians, Muslims and Scientology. “I could claim Scientology and not have to buy insurance. That’s ridiculous,” he said.
• Insurance portability — Under health care reform, insurance will become portable, meaning if you have insurance in Kansas and move to Missouri, providers have to accept your insurance. That’s a good thing, he said.
• All or nothing — Instead of passing the Affordable Care Act, he said the country should have tried changing just one area, like tort reform or outlining what’s considered basic health care under insurance. Does it include: all vaccines, high blood pressure, smoking cessation and weight loss? That’s still to be determined.
“We never do anything in steps. We didn’t try something in one area, instead we pass this monstrous bill that’s out of control and affects the whole country,” he said.
SOLUTION: LESS GOVERNMENT
Van Camp, a Republican, said he tried not to play politics in his book, although he does “throw stones” at Congress for a lot of problems. “I tried to be as objective as a person can be carrying with them all of their biases,” he said.
Van Camp believes less government involvement is one of the keys to fixing the broken system. “My philosophy and my belief is that the private sector works. Get out of the way and don’t regulate too much and they will find the most cost-effective way to get things done,” he said.
He thinks people should be able to put money into health savings accounts for medications and procedures without being taxed for it.
Van Camp said he’s spent his medical career — 25 years — working on the book, but it only took six weeks to write.
“What I’ve realized is the system is broken but what I’ve been so upset about is that the system isn’t broken because the quality of care is bad,” he said.
The book is available online at www.drkipp.com.
Dr. Kipp Van Camp, an interventional radiologist in Topeka, will be available Jan. 11 to discuss his new book, “Misdiagnosis: A Practicing Physician’s Case Study in Health Care Reform.”
Van Camp will be participating in an online chat at 3 p.m. Jan. 11 on WellCommons.com. And, you can submit your questions anonymously at anytime at WellCommons/chats. Make sure to log back to WellCommons.com during or after the chat to see if your questions were answered.
Dr. Van Camp owns a radiology company called Critical Imaging Associates in Topeka. He also is owner and medical director of Rejuvenate Medical Spa, providing minimally invasive cosmetic medical procedures. He serves as an adjunct professor at Washburn University and Kansas University.
Van Camp is one of two hosts on a medical radio talk show called Doctor’s Orders, which airs on stations in Topeka and Kansas City.