Saturday, July 12, 2008

Adventures in Health Care

Then I got sick. Really sick. After trying to convince myself and Amy that I only had a cold, and I'd be fine, it became apparent that I didn't have a cold, and that I wasn't going to be fine.

We all hear horror stories about the US health system. The doctor I saw was nothing but professional and capable, personable and thorough.

But ti took us a huge amount of time to get to see him, and what surprised me even more was how long it us to get out of the surgery, after he'd seen me and prescribed.

The paperwork is phenomenal. I kept thinking of Libby, my doctor in Geelong, and that she'd never put up with the paperwork required. And that she sees patients every 15 minutes.

We signed in and I expected to have to fill in medical history, and so we did that. At the same time we filled in paperwork indicating that we didn't have insurance (although our travel insurance will cover it) and that we'd be paying cash.

We waited about 50 minutes, during which time the waiting room filled up, and I got fainter.

Then we were told that I'd been approved to be seen – I'm not sure who or what approved me to be seen by the doctor – and so we would need to fill in more paperwork so that I could be processed. It wasn't medical history – it was about insurance and costs and waivers of this that and various others.

Amy began remembering another of the reasons why she loves Australia as much as she does, and I began to black in and out in the waiting room.

All up we waited just over 2 hours before we got into a room, and then it was another 20 minutes or so till a doctor came in. Along the way, a clinician came and took my temperature and blood pressure and the like. She clearly had no idea what she was doing. The doc was a good guy, who diagnosed with me an upper respiratory infection, and prescribed killer antibiotics to take care of it, a spray to take care of the wheeze in my chest, and a suitably evil tasting linctus to take care of the cough at night, and help me get some sleep. Amy got to smile knowingly – all along she'd be telling me I had an infection.

And this, dear Australian reader, is where I walk out of the consulting room, pay the bill and leave – right? 'Fraid not. Not in the US. The doc told us that he had to do some paperwork that would then be scanned, photocopied and submitted. (I don't know who or what it was submitted to). He suggested I take a seat in the waiting room while all this was done, and they would call me again.

Roughly 40 minutes later – after Amy had told them that I was really sick and having trouble - I was still blacking in and out – I got to fill in more paperwork, sign more papers and pay the bill. Then they handed over my prescriptions and we got to leave.

Getting my prescription filled at Wallgreens was similarly complicated. I'll never ever complain my chemist at home in Geelong again – his jokes are awful, but I've never ever had to wait more than 15 minutes. In fact 10 minutes is a long wait. At Wallgreens it took over an hour.

Then - over 4 hours after we'd left – we came back to the hotel room and I went back to bed. Somewhere in there we organised for another 4 or 5 days at our hotel. 3 days later I was well enough to get out of bed, and now – nearly a week later – I'm pretty right except for a bit of a sniffle, and a tendency to tire really quickly. Thank goodness for antibiotics and Amy's love and care.

1 comment:

Laura and Flexcab said...

Sounds like an awful day, hope your feeling much better with Amy's love and care!