NoisetteandtheDude’s Blog

November 26, 2008

A short anecdote: health-care reform needed?

Filed under: Election 2008 — noisetteandthedude @ 12:22 pm

My Tuesday started out like my Monday ended up: with me passing several small but painful kidney stones. Fortunately, I had a couple Vicodin pills left over from some awesomely bloody dental work last summer, so I survived Monday night in a state of befogged bliss.

Which ended Tuesday morning, because I was out of pills (even my Tylenol bottle was empty). Obviously, I needed more Vicodin. So I went to see my doc at 9:00, only to find out he couldn’t see me until 3:00 and – more to the point – wouldn’t write an Rx for painkillers until after he’d examined me, no doubt to make sure I wasn’t just another senile senior seeking oblivion by feigning pain (or, heaven forfend, a Reagan “welfare queen” gaming the system). Just giving me what I wanted (an Rx for Vicodin) wouldn’t be ethical, you know.

So I staggered across the street to Safeway to buy some Tylenol and I survived to my 3:00 appointment just fine, at which time I persuaded Doc that my history of 15 years of kidney stone transmigration was not an elaborate subterfuge. Just to be certain, Doc sent me down the hall to meet his new CAT scan machine (as I knew he would, since he’d just spent $3,000,000 installing it: my town’s third CAT scanner in a three-block radius, all of them owned by competing medical firms, all of them installed last year). I’m no medical facilities planner, but three CAT scanners to serve a town of 10,000 might be overkill – but it has certainly turned my town into THE place to find a scanner; we’re the left coast’s Mecca for people seeking visual proof of virtual ills.

A few minutes later, when Doc’s pretty new machine finished my scan (for which Medicare will foot the bill), I returned to Doc’s office and set up an appointment for Friday, at which time Doc will review my scan results with me (they will, of course, show a small treasure trove of tiny kidney stones that will either find their way into my ureters, or not, over the next several years – just as they have since my last scan five years ago).

Doc’s appointments nurse also handed me Doc’s Rx for. . . Surprise!  Vicodin. Many many Vicodin, actually: 50 tablets, on a prescription I can refill four more times, as I wish, at $5.72 per bottle. I am set for life on Vicodin.

Doc’s Rx was written, of course, before any scan results were available; for all I know, he wrote the Rx during my morning visit. But if he’d given it to me then, Medicare couldn’t be charged for that afternoon’s visit with Doc, nor for that expensive CAT scan from Doc’s expensive machine, nor for my Friday followup visit with Doc. This way, everything can and will be billed – and Medicare and my supplemental insurance will pay for it all.  

Except my Rx, of course.

Isn’t our health care system wonderful? One hand washes the other, and many bonus hands get cleaned and polished as well. Everybody wins!

Except the folks paying the freight for our busted health-care system. Oh, right, that’s us.

But like most everyone who is fortunate enough to have good health insurance, I don’t seem to care. I’ve got 49 pills left in Vicodin bottle number one (with four more bottles on their way), I’m feeling no pain whatsoever, and I’m turning in for the night, having just watched the best superhero movie I’ve seen in awhile: “Hancock” – my kind of superhero: a grungy, foul-mouthed dude who is compelled to fight injustice in a very messy way – but doesn’t really enjoy his job.

Let’s hope President Obama cares. Someone should.

Thanks for tuning in.

G’night all!

–The Dude

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