Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Trip to the Doctor

Earlier this week, I started to develop a cold. I tried to ignore it for the first day or so, thinking it was just allergies due to the changing weather and what not. But by Wednesday morning I wasn't feeling any better and decided to make an appointment. When I called, I found out that I couldn't get an appointment until Thursday afternoon. Not a huge deal; it's just a cold. So I went earlier today.

After waiting a while in the lobby, I went back and saw the nurse. She asked me a few questions and told me the doctor would be there soon. When he came in, he was perfectly nice and helpful and I left with a prescription.

When I paid my bill I found out my insurance (which I just received about two months ago) didn't cover this type of visit; instead it fell under my deductible. I thought I had three doctor visits per year on my insurance plan, but apparently I was wrong. I ended up paying the entire cost out of pocket. The same thing happened at the pharmacy when I went to get my prescription filled. I paid much more than I thought I was going to for both the visit and the medicine--despite having paid my premiums on time.

The point of this is not to badmouth either my doctor or my insurance company; my doctor can't help it that our current health care system is deeply flawed. The point is that we already have all the things the anti-reform crowd wants you to be afraid of: wait lists, denial or abrogation of coverage, skyrocketing costs and an additional layer of bureaucracy between doctors and patients, to name a few. For me, the wait wasn't especially long and I won't have to lose my house for this trip to the doctor. But too often, that's not the case--whether a patient can't find a specialist in their small rural community or they just can't pay.

Progressives don't want handouts; we want fairness. We don't expect equal outcomes; we expect equal opportunity. And it's real damn hard to have either one of those things when you can go bankrupt because you got sick.

It's time to pass real reform.

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