HOWTO: visit a doctor

Life in the US is often interesting, from an introspective viewpoint anyway. Yesterday, I decided that this sore throat wasn’t going to get better on its own and needed some antibiotical assistance. So, I figured it was about time to register with a doctor and take care of all that jazz. Actually finding a doctor wasn’t too bad – I just used my health insurance provider’s website to find one down the street, called and got an apointment a few hours later. But when I got there, there was more fun to be had:

  • Fill in registration form.
  • Fill in more registration forms.
  • Fill in background form (all ok so far, overdone, but ok).
  • Fill in survey about depression. So I’m not depressed but they wanted to check I wasn’t about to kill myself as part of their paranoid default paperwork for new patients. I was tempted to write that the hassle involved in treating a sore throat was making me re-consider…but it’s not worth assuming a sense of humor exists.
  • Fill in survey about domestic violence. Yeah, that’s right. A sore throat requires this kind of information.
  • Take my blood pressure, weight, oxygen, heartrate, other vitals.
  • See doctor, who repeats most of the above.
  • Tell doctor “dude, I’ve got the same symptoms as someone who’s now already on antibiotics, I’m not dying, I just want a prescription and then I promise not to come back until I’m actually sick again”.
  • Doctor takes swabs of my throat to send off for analysis (presumably because they can claim this as an additional expense to my insurance company).
  • Discover the doctor is actually an OK dude. Originally Canadian and therefore versed in the Province based system in Canada, we had a good discussion about his support for universal healthcare, which local charities are good to donate to (I constantly feel guilt/annoyance that so many people here don’t have health coverage…and it really pisses me off) and the differences between US, Canadian and European healthcare systems.
  • Get prescription.
  • Go to CVS to claim it. They can’t find me in the insurance database. Phone calls, more waiting (and of course, I’m grumbling about the merits of universal healthcase by this point) and eventually after a wait they are able to process it.
  • Got antibiotics.

Thank goodness I only had a sore throat. I hate to think how bad it would be if I actually had anything particularly wrong with me. It’s not that any one thing was annoying/excessive, it’s just the overall experience that’s typically overblown and rediculous. Anyway, they’ve even more than in the UK, convinced me to avoid seeing a doctor here again unless I really feel like hours of fun and enjoyment just to deal with a trivial sore throat :-)

Irony of the day: being asked a bunch of times for your “social security” number and thinking to yourself “that’s right, social security, because the government here really provide for the people”. I like a lot of things about the US, but nobody is ever going to sell me on how healthcare works here…and now I’ve briefly experienced the whole broken mess for myself. People here do know the healthcare system is broken, it’s just that nobody can agree on how to fix it (read: rightwing types unwilling to pay higher taxes for universal healthcare benefits to wider society).

The number one reason I’m pissed off? Because of the disparity. I get good coverage through my employer, but so many millions of people don’t get anything – I hate to think about their experiences. Health should not be about who you work for, what job you do or how much you can afford to pay…not in an advanced society, anyway. I wish people who vote for fucktarded losers would finally realize this. But they won’t, because it’s not in keeping with unrealistic, unmaintainable tax cuts and general cuts to federal programs in order to spend more on fighting daddy’s war…


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