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- January 12, 1998
- Vol. 49
- No. 1
Doctor-Turned-Bluesman Sam Bierstock Puts Managed-Care Medicine Under the Satirical Knife
Frontman for Dr. Sam and the Managed Care Blues Band, Bierstock, 50, a retired ophthalmologist from Highland Beach, Fla., has set aside his scalpel to needle the medical insurance community and protest the pit-falls of managed health care. Not only do insurers take too long to repay patients, he says, but doctors paid set fees by insurers feel as if they are working in a system focused on profits, not sound medicine. "They're going to get a fixed amount no matter what effort they put in or how good they are—it can't work," concludes Bierstock. He plays more than a dozen gigs a month at medical conventions and seminars, has launched a Web site (www.managedmusic.com) and just released a CD, Minimal Service, featuring such crowd-pleasers as "You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Blue Shield" and "Mastoid Sally" ("Grind, Sally, Grind").
The son of a scrap merchant and a homemaker, Bierstock, now divorced and with three grown daughters, was born in Kitchener, Ont. After a shoulder injury left him with diminished feeling in his fingers, he gave up his practice in Rhinebeck, N.Y., in 1992 and moved to Florida, where he became a medical management consultant. Frustrated in that job by doctors' low morale, Bierstock, who had played trombone, guitar and banjo as a kid, quit to form his blues band earlier this year (the keyboardist, a dentist, is the only other doc on board). They're booked through 1998, so they're resting comfortably. "If I tried to explain managed health care to the public seriously, I'd put everybody to sleep," says Dr. Sam. "This way it's great fun, and we're educating the public."
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