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Under the "Cash for Cluckers" Program, How Many Chickens Is a Mammogram Worth?

Good news doctors! Although the current Congress is content to fritter away your future income with so-called healthcare reform, a plucky Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada named Sue Lowden has offered a sensible (and tasty) alternative to the usual fee for service: poultry!

Lowden recently extolled the old-timey virtues of trading goods and services in exchange for medical care, claiming it was a solution to help control the cost of healthcare. Click here to watch video of Lowden defending the concept on a local Nevada news show.

“I’m telling you that this works. You know, before we all started having healthcare, in the olden days our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor, they would say ‘I’ll paint your house.’ I mean, that’s the old days of what people would do to get health care with your doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that system,” Lowden told her fellow panelists.

A spokesperson for the Lowden campaign defended the statement, saying, “Americans are struggling to pay for their health care, and in order to afford coverage we must explore all options available to drive costs down. Bartering with your doctor is not a new concept. There have been numerous reports as to how negotiating with your doctor is an option and doctors have gone on the record verifying this.”

The campaign has also sent around a letter to the editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal written by one Robin L. Titus, MD, a family physician who practices in a rural community. Titus says he “can state from personal experience that bartering works” because he has bartered with patients “for alfalfa hay, a bath tub, yard work, and horse shoeing” in exchange for providing medical care.

Cash for Cluckers?
Figuring out payment and billing for medical services is already a nightmare without throwing livestock into the mix, so how’s a doctor supposed to figure out what to charge a patient with a well-stocked barnyard?

Not to worry, the helpful folks over at The Lowden Plan have come up with a handy calculator that converts many common procedures into chickens.

For example, according to The Lowden Medical-Procedure-to-Chicken Converter:
  • Colon Cancer Surgery = 8738 chickens
  • Hip Replacement = 6549 chickens
  • Appendectomy = 1019 chickens
  • Colonoscopy = 514 chickens
  • EKG = 77 chickens
  • Mammogram = 18 chickens

Now, we know what you’re thinking: What if I don’t like chicken? The Lowden Plan website does offer a couple of alternative payment suggestions, advising patients that “because live chickens are 20 times more expensive than eggs,” the site offers “palettes of 1200, 3600 and 6000 fertilized eggs.” Patients are advised that all they need are a chicken coop, feed, and feces pond “for the inevitable flood of waste.” Sounds sensible to us!

Also, because some people might shortsightedly think that “it’s not realistic to take 10,000 chickens to pay for major surgery,” The Lowden Plan offers “full grown cattle herds that [patients] can ride to the hospital for major surgery or just take a couple to pay for chemo.”

Unconfirmed sources tell HCPLive that President Obama, who certainly knows a good healthcare idea when he sees one, plans to reach across the aisle to support this idea and will soon announce the formation of the Commission to Revalue Animals for Physician Payment (CRAPP). Sources also claim that a White House spokesperson today announced “Doctors, although we’ve successfully passed healthcare reform, we’re not through with you yet; so be on the lookout for more CRAPP outcomes.”

Doctors, Help Us Out!
Tell us what you would be willing to accept as payment in lieu of money for a given medical procedure or service? Leave your suggestions in the comments!



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