8/28/2009

The Horror of Socialized Medicine

Tuesday morning and I have to have labs drawn and see my hepatologist. That's hepatologist, not herpetologist because I am a liver transplant survivor and not a turtle (thank you spellcheck).

Anyway, we've all heard the horrors of socialized medicine where going to the doctor means you'll have to wait and wait and wait for an appointment and then you won't be able to get care or you'll be seen by some hack. Unfortunately, according to many, I must deal with socialized medicine because I have Medicare. Heaven help me!

About 6am after dropping Michael off at work, I swung by Sonora Quest to get my labs drawn. I walked in and signed my name on the pad. The nice person at the desk asked if I had orders with me or if I have standing orders. Of course, since I have labs monthly, I have standing orders so told her. She asked me to have a seat as it would be a few minutes since I had not made an appointment as I usually do.

About 5 minutes later, a tech called my name and escorted me to her room where she quickly drew the required vials of blood to be tested. The entire process took less than 10 minutes. After she finished, she wished me a good morning and I left. I didn't have to pay out of pocket and I didn't have to sweat how much it was going to cost. I just got the labs necessary to make sure my liver and kidneys are functioning properly.

I had about two hours before I needed to go to my doctor's office so went home and caught up on email. Around 8:30 I headed out to Oro Valley to see my hepatologist (liver doctor) during their monthly visit to Tucson. (They are based in Phoenix.)

I arrived and checked in at the desk. The waiting room was a bit more full than usual so I wondered if I would have to wait. However, in less than 10 minutes (I was 15 minutes early) I was called to a room. Roger, one of my favorite nurses, checked that everything was up to date and did my vitals. We talked for a minute about general things.

Within 3 minutes the doctor entered the room. I normally see their Nurse Practitioner but today one of the physicians was helping out because of the number of patients. He went over my current medications and labs and decided to increase my blood pressure medication. He wrote me a new prescription for the higher dose. After making sure I had no complaints or concerns we chatted for a minute about his recent vacation to Fripp Island in South Carolina. When we'd finished he walked me into the hall and made an appointment for me for November. I stopped for a moment to chat with the Nurse Practitioner I normally see and then headed out of the office.

I did not have to worry about how much I would have to pay that morning and I did not have to worry that I'd need to cancel or re-schedule because I was strapped for cash this week.

Meanwhile, Michael isn't allowed to have insurance in our country. Because he had cancer he is not eligible for any private insurance even if his employer offered it. In fact, if his employer offered insurance he would lose his job because the company would slap a huge surtax on their premium because they employ a cancer survivor! (Up to $1 million.) The only way around that would be to fire the cancer survivor. That's something people aren't taking into consideration when they yell "Free Market" and mandated coverage. The only way around that is a robust public option where employers and people like Michael could buy insurance at reasonable rates.

So, while he is due for a colonoscopy to make sure he's still cancer free - he can't get one because they run about $3,500 and the doctors and hospitals want that money up front if you don't have insurance.

Guess, I'll take the horrors of my socialized medicine plan! Funny that the majority of the screamers at Town Halls also participate in this socialized medicine program and seem to love it. In fact, the only part (before all this) anyone complained about was the Medicare Part D. Know what? That was a Republican plan to slap some cash into the hands of their friends in the insurance industry. It was an experiment in PRIVATIZATION that has failed miserably as drug costs increase and companies continually limit what drugs they cover.

I am still amazed at the "rationing" fools out there as well. If it were not for socialized medicine I would be dead because my private employer backed insurance dumped me when I got sick. I was completely without insurance when I was finally diagnosed just days from death in an ER with End Stage Liver Disease. My doctors and social workers moved Heaven and Earth to get me Medicaid (the MOST socialized medicine) so I could have a transplant. Without socialized medicine I would never have received a new liver. The claims that people won't receive transplants because of "socialized" medicine are lies and I would personally like to punch every person spreading it right in the mouth. Socialized Medicine saves lives... the private insurance industry is designed to take the lives of our sickest people to protect profits. If you believe any different you are a moron and there is nothing anyone can do for you.

So, let's hear it for socialized medicine!

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