Doctor No Feelgood
Have you visited a doctor lately? I have. Do you have insurance? I don’t. So if you wish, please follow along as I colorfully paint a picture for you of my most recent trip to our local Family Clinic.
I chose a crappy time of the year to develop symptoms of sinus infection. Summertime is meant for having fun in the sunny high Sierra, not for lying around your dark one bedroom condo feeling sorry for yourself. So, after a few days of whining to my girlfriend about my health, she threatened to ‘cut me off’ if I didn’t see a physician. Apparently my 60-hour work weeks and nightly pint of Chubby Hubby weren’t effective enough in helping me get better.
I made an appointment and drove myself down to the clinic. I sat in the waiting room and took my pick from the litter of magazines. I barely got a chance to look at the pictures before my name was called. A nurse leads me to the torture chamber. I have my temperature taken, I’m weighed and my blood pressure verified. It turns out I’m alive, although a bit heavier than I last recalled. Might be a good time to rethink that pint-a- night diet.
The nurse then leads me into the catacombs. Sweet! I get a private room. Awesome! Another library of outdated magazines. Have you ever checked out Popular Science? I did. I won’t be subscribing anytime soon. After a few minutes and pages upon pages of literary genius, a knock on the door. The Doc comes in, seems like a nice enough guy. He asks me a few questions and then proceeds to invade my cranial orifices. He listens in on my lung activity. “All looks normal,” he states. Only problem is, I suspect differently. A few more moments of me alluding to the fact that wasn’t at the clinic because I wanted to diversify my indoor summer activities, I get diagnosed with ‘acute sinusitis,’ a doctor’s obscure term for “we really don’t know what is causing you to feel like crap, but obviously you feel like crap or you wouldn’t choose your one day off from work to come hang out with us.” We make small talk. He writes a prescription. Surprise! Antibiotics. Actually the surprise was awaiting me at checkout.
My entire interaction with Doc took less than 10 minutes. The nurse, less than five. I phoned in my appointment. That took less than a minute. My bill upon exit was $182. Not cool. This was twice the amount I have ever been charged for a previous visit! I understand that the clinic is a ‘for profit’ enterprise and that employees and rent must be paid and the Doc assuredly has some leftover med school loans. But for a hard working Mammoth local, $180 for a simple doctor visit is obscene. I didn’t even get any lube.
I was charged $180 for a ‘level 4 care’ visit. It turns out that level 1 care is eye contact ($50), level 2 is verbal acknowledgment and a head nod ($100), level 3? A superfly secret handshake complete with a fist pump and eye wink. You got my version of level 4 care. Level 5 care ($250) gets you a bottle of lube.
I apologize for being snotty with the employees of the Family Clinic upon my checkout. I admit, it was not my best moment. Please forgive me, but you must understand that it sucks to make a choice between paying rent and getting a $10 bottle of ‘get healthy’ for $200 while other undocumented ‘locals’ get free health care. I don’t want free, but I deserve reasonable cost. And the right to know what I am expected to pay before my visit, not according to some creative ‘level of care’ assessment. I’m sure you could have charged me less knowing I was paying out of pocket for a very simple visit. And for this reason I chose to write of my experience and let others know what is going on. It’s time to take your own thermometer, Family Clinic, and stick it.