8/21/2009

A Morning of Socialized Medicine

This morning I had to see my General Practitioner. This is how my visit went.

Since I worked in medicine for years, I always try to get one of the first appointments of the day before emergencies and kids sent home from school with the sniffles back up the day. So, I arrived a few minutes before 8am and signed in with the receptionist who double checked my address and phone number and my insurance. I then waited just about 5 minutes to be shown to a room. The very polite medical assistant checked my current medications to see if there were any changes from my other doctors then told me the doctor would be in shortly.

Less than five minutes later I heard him outside the door greeting staff members and then he swept into the room with a cheerful smile to shake my hand and get started. We talked about how I was feeling and the fact that I'm putting on far too much weight. We talked about how the blood pressure medication I've been taking hasn't been very effective. He suggested switching to another but wanted to talk to my hepatologist about it before making a change. We talked about my problems with diet and my food issues. He checked my right hand ring finger because I've been having pain the past few weeks bowling. He then suggested a cream that I might try to relieve the pain since he felt it was a deep bruise. We spent a few minutes talking about other things too - like our shared interest in history and his work with the Presidio Trust. Finally, he ended the visit and walked me out into the hall where he paused for another minute or so to recap a few things.

I then went to the front desk where a cheerful clerk took my paperwork with his notes and noted that I had an appointment scheduled in October for a full physical. She wished me a happy weekend and I left the office.

At no point did money change hands. That was a good thing, too because we're pretty much broke until Michael gets paid on Monday. If I had had to pay for this visit, I would have been forced to cancel.

That's the way a visit to the doctor should be. It should be a pleasant experience where you feel cared for by people who value you as a person and not a "revenue stream."

Now, the reason I was able to have such a wonderful experience was because of socialized medicine.

Yes, I have Medicare because I am disabled due to my transplant and a spinal fracture in the past. With my Medicare I have a Medicare Advantage plan that is paid for by the government as well. This plan takes care of my deductibles and co-payments that I would normally have with Medicare such as the 80/20 split. It also covers my prescription drugs, including my transplant medications for only a few dollars a prescription. For my visits to the doctor there is no fee at all.

So, thanks to the "evils" of socialized medicine. I was able to see my doctor today and be treated as a human being. I had a problem addressed (blood pressure) that could lead to serious problems down the road if not corrected and also a common little ache seen about that luckily is nothing more than an inconvenience. And all of that happened without me having to worry about whether I could afford that visit or to buy groceries.

This is what every American should be allowed to receive when it comes to health care. Everyone should have the chance to see their doctor regularly to catch problems early and treat problems before they become life threatening. Every American should be allowed the chance to do that without having to worry about how much it will cost or how much money they have in the bank this week!

I'll bet you most people would gladly trade their employer based high deductible/limited coverage plans for my "socialized medicine" plan. Yet, they will try to derail the public option which could extend them similar plans for a fraction of the cost of their current medical plan simply because they are either idiots or racists who can't stomach an African-American President introducing one of the most sweeping reforms since the establishment of Medicare.

The next time a pundit raises the specter of "Socialized Medicine" just remember how my morning went and think to yourself "Wouldn't it be great if my doctor's visits were as nice?"

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