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Daily Archives: September 12, 2008

Given the previous post here I believe it’s rather apparent that money is tight. Being older, it’s supposed to be important for regular doctor visits and given that I have a few identified health issues, it’s certainly important for me. Not having health insurance because of being self-employed and not making enough money at it to afford individual healthcare (someone of my age and health will pay over $500/month at the least and you still have exhorbitant deductibles) I opted for a clinic that has a sliding scale. I pay the maximum fee at this clinic because of our combined income but it still beats the $200/minute price of other doctors plus they have in clinic urine and blood tests which always accompany my visits.

Now, before you curl your noses at my going to such a clinic, remember these clinics need money to operate, especially when they operate on sliding scales. I don’t mind in the least rubbing elbows with the folks who have no other option but to go there because it’s all they can afford. Realize this is what the Democrats have in mind when they talk about Universal Healthcare. Remember this paragraph when I’m done.

My doctor is always accompanied by a nurse practitioner because he’s pretty much blind now at his age. Mind is still sharp as a tack so that’s okay. They have been a decent team and I have no objection to them in this scenario. But that’s as pleasant as it gets.

I’ve been seeing this team somewhat regularly since I started going to this clinic at the first of the year. I say somewhat regularly because I’m supposed to have been there every month for the last nine months but wasn’t able to do so and only once was it my fault.

Every time I go, I make the followup appointment but within a week or two afterwards, I get a call saying there was a mistake made and could I reschedule. The reschedule is always more than a month later that the day they called to reschedule. Finally get to the next visit, repeat scenario. Then again. Then, I had to cancel one because of circumstances beyond my control, which is the only difference between that rescheduling and the previous ones, because the very same thing happened. A week later I got a phone call that there was a mistake and could I reschedule. It’s getting old now, right?  Don’t worry, that rescheduling resulted in yesterday’s visit so we’re done with that part now.

Yesterday, I showed up for the interminably rescheduled appointment. On top of this, I was fasting in anticipation of blood tests. Nothing to eat or drink after 6PM. The eating part I could handle alright but the drinking part is a little rough because I don’t function well without my morning cup of coffee. I wasn’t even allowed water let alone coffee. I suppose that comes from getting up before 4AM every morning. But the appointment is for 9:30AM.

In retrospect, I should have known from the get go something was terribly wrong. I walked up to do the sign-in ritual and watch the receptionist look at a computer screen with a blank stare. She asked me to spell my name and several other questions. Then printed out a piece of paper for the visit. About 9:20 a medical assistant calls me back for the vitals and I thought to myself I might get out of here a little early and grab that thermos of coffee in my car and get that “lack of coffee” headache nipped before it gets too bad.

Not so. The medical assistant did the vitals then took me back to an exam room; a 6 feet by 6 feet crowded with equipment room where I sat for 35 minutes. Having gotten tired of sitting there and no room to pace I open the door and look out. I stood in the doorway for a few minutes and the whole place was quiet with one lone medical assistant sitting at a desk doing paperwork. I just stood there but while standing there, I look at my chart on the side. They use computer printouts for visits and write the names of those you’re seeing on the back of these printouts. The names on the back were not who I was supposed to be seeing.

So, I take down the papers and walk over to the medical assistant doing her paperwork and ask do I need to reschedule. I showed her the names on the back and said these are not the people I’m supposed to be seeing. At which point, to put it bluntly, all hell breaks loose. Another medical assistant comes up and breezily informs me that they all see each other’s patients to which I responded what’s the point of making appointments, if that’s the case? I told her, fine, I’ll reschedule but I was out of refills for meds that I have to take daily. Instead of dealing with that, she tries to cover by going to get one of the team I was supposed to be seeing and I was informed that they could see me but didn’t know when. By this time it’s 10:30AM, I’m still fasting, and that coffee headache is ready to take over for the rest of the day.  I blew my top at that point and said, no, just see if you can get me those prescriptions and I’ll reschedule. Instead, they go get the nurse practitioner who proceeds to get angry with me because they are supposed to see me every month but haven’t seen me since the beginning of June. I was told then, I have a urinary tract infection and that since I’ve fasted I should at least go ahead and get the blood test done while she promised to make sure I got an appointment as soon as possible with her and the doctor. I said okay because I’m really tired of this now.

They put me in the chair at the lab where I waited five minutes only to find out the lab technician wasn’t there because he was interpreting somewhere else and he would there in a minute. Another five minutes and I was in tears. Unfortunately, when I get angry I tear up first and they mistook my anger for something else. But I told them point blank that I’m just plain “pissed off.” Needless to say, I didn’t get the blood test, either. I do have an appointment for two weeks from now with the right people because the nurse practitioner set it up herself. Whether I get to keep it is another question. Who wants to bet they don’t call me within a week to reschedule it?

I wouldn’t bet it.

Welcome to the future, ladies and gentlemen. This is universal healthcare in the making. And to think, for every dollar you pay in, you’ll get something like $.04 worth of healthcare. Is it going to be worth it?

September 2008
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