Monday, October 6, 2008

That woman at the doctor's office was mean

Sadly, Casa de Hawg has been full of illness as of late.

I've harped time and time again here about my pesky ulcerative colitis flaring up and I wound up with some nasty sinus infection over the weekend, to boot. Both of my kids are nursing strep throat and my wife tells me she's not feeling too great, either.

My wife took our 11-year-old son to see the doctor today and I knocked off work early to take our seven-year-old daughter to see a different doctor. Why didn't they both go to the same doctor? I have no idea -- my wife set it all up and I've been married long enough to know when it's best to do what I'm told and ask no questions.

Now, my daughter's visit to the doctor was awful. Her doctor is in an office that's in a complex connected to Saline Memorial Hospital here in Benton. The place is dingy and has all the charm of the county revenue office -- the place where one has to go to get a driver's license, register new vehicles and all those pleasant things.

Like the revenue office, the doctor's office was packed full of people who looked mad about being there. Upon walking in, I knew it was going to be a bit of a wait. I wouldn't have been surprised if someone had removed all the hands from the clocks in there as that office (like most medical offices) is one of those places where time just has no meaning.

So we checked in and settled down. After only 10 minutes, one of the women behind the counter called my daughter's name! Yes, I was excited. It appeared the trip would be a short one, after all.

So I got my daughter and went to see the lady as I was sure we'd be called back and we'd get out of there in a hurry. She asked me if I had my insurance card. I started to dig for it in my wallet and she said, "Oh, never mind. It's right here in your daughter's file."

We were then smugly instructed to wait some more.

I realized right then why that woman was hiding behind a thick pane of glass. I'm convinced she was messing with us -- that she's the type who gets bored and likes to make people suffer. That, folks, is what I call mean.

So we waited for another 40 minutes. We got called back to see the doctor and waited another five minutes and visited with the doctor (who was very nice and my daughter declared upon leaving that she liked her) for about five minutes. So, the visit took about an hour and the payoff was about a five minute visit with a very nice doctor and a prescription for antibiotics.

So, nice doctor. Mean staff. OK.

While waiting in the doctor's office, a nasty thought occurred to me. I've got some kick-ass insurance -- my employer pays the premiums and I have no deductibles. That's right -- 100 percent coverage. Add my wife's AFLAC supplemental to all that and it's a pretty sweet deal.

All this talk of universal health care coverage worries me. Why? Since I started working, the government has found a way to deprive me of a lot of good things. For example, I've watched more than a few raises bump me into a higher tax bracket, resulting in a net gain of about nothing for my family and me.

I'm a bit worried, then, that the very government that seems hell bent on defining "justice" as that which makes us all suffer equally will be targeting my benefits before long. Throw in my long-held belief that those who rely on the federal government for anything will likely be disappointed and I do believe we're heading for a mess.

Getting the feds even more involved than they are in medical care will likely make those miserable trips to the doctor even worse.

Want some real health care reform? Start with a healthy dose of tort reform to keep the sue-happy lawyers in line and medical costs should drop accordingly. Then concentrate on those efforts that allow small businesses and individuals to "pool" and take advantage of the group rates that corporations enjoy. Those two measures, taken together, may help everyone in need of affordable, quality insurance.

Oh, and as for the pooling, here's little article about the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) that's kicking around in congressional subcommittees. Arkansas' own U.S. Sen. Blanche Lambert Lincoln, a Democrat, is one of the cosponsors of that legislation and has been a cheerleader for it all year long. She's one of those Democrats that I'm inclined to listen to as she's learned the difference between representing her constituents and representing her political party. By the way, Republicans and Democrats who are more interested in pushing the national agendas of their respective parties than representing the people who put them in office aren't worth a damn.

While the feds messing around in the free market often leads to disaster, that legislation may well represent a reasonable approach to dealing with the very serious problem of affordability of health insurance. It's worth considering, at the very least.


WindMill said...

Sorry to hear about the family's health condition. Godspeed that all will be back to good happy health!

I suppose, I am "lucky" as a Malaysian. Since Independence Day (Aug 31, 1957)till this day, the Malaysian Government provides free medical services to its citizens.

God Bless your family Always!

Toni said...

Sorry everyone is sick! Hope you all get to feeling better as quickly as possible.

I could not have said it better as far as the government running stuff. Seriously, can anyone name one thing the government has done that they did well?

It really irritates me when hard working people (I wanted to put educated here but I think intelligent is the better word) think government run "stuff" can improve their lives...

I understand if you are lazy and don't want to do anything then sure, it is only right that you are for government run healthcare, oil companies, etc. But the others, I just don't get it.

Rebecca said...

You're right about the health care reform disaster that the Gubmint is salivating to start.

I've been on state health insurance and IT AIN'T PRETTY. I shudder uncontrollably when I think of the Feds swallowing up my health care concerns. Good God.

Hope you guys are better soon.

la said...

Wow, sorry to hear you're having problems with the UC (you so know I can relate) and this weekend I also had a nasty bout with my sinuses/allergies. Must be "something" in the air. I hope everyone in your family gets better soon.

Don't start me on health care. It's not totally the sue-happy lawyers. I know a lot of working people with insurance (tho not the "top of the line") who are also treated crappy.

To me, it's the insurance companies who think more about the all-mighty dollar than what's best for the patient.

Having worked as a nurse in a hospital setting, I've seen things that should have never happened and it was all because the insurance companies were putting restrictions on how doctors should treat their patients. And it could even be argued that those restrictions caused complications which in turn led to those law suits.

The government has always hit the middle class. It used to be the backbone of this country. When I worked at Rheem, it was a joke (albeit not too funny) that no one wanted that seventh day of overtime at double time, because the seventh day basically went completely to the government, and folks would even lose money on their check (and that was during the Reagan years.)

The Natural State Hawg said...

windmill -- I'm afraid free health care is about to be inflicted on us here. So, my kick-ass health benefits will be out the window and my family will get hammered with more taxes and receiving worse medical benefits than we have now.

Pretty typical.

Toni -- I don't get it, either. I never have, actually.

The people that do have a valid concern are the ones who are trying to make it and just aren't, for one reason or another. High medical costs and prohibitively expensive medical insurance have left those people out in the cold.

To that end, I love exploring possibilities that will extend coverage to the people who need it and I'm against anything that will ruin the good benefits the rest of us have.

A compromise can certainly be reached.

Rebecca -- We're marching that way, seemingly. After the bailout nonsense, I'm not sure there's anyone left to stand against it, either.

la -- No, it's not all the fault of the sue-happy lawyers. They are a huge component of the problem, however, as illustrated by the amazingly high cost of malpractice insurance. We do end up paying for that, eventually.

Insurance companies do share a chunk of the blame, too, and let's not forget about the corporate mindset that runs the medical profession these days.

Someone needs to reign in all of those competing interests, but I'm not sure that tossing a big ol' government bureaucracy in the mix will do anything but make it worse.