Tuesday, 10 May 2011

I AM PAYING THEM TO DRINK THEIR MILKSHAKE. Once upon a time, as most of you know, SEK had cancer. His cancer requires he take thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of his life, but this January his Primary Care Physician informed him that he could not, in good conscience, continue to prescribe said hormones unless SEK saw an endocrinologist at least once a year, so he referred SEK to one who works at the UCI Medical Center. Because the United States has the best health care system in the world, three months later he arrives at the UCI Medical Center for his appointment. SEK: I am here for the appointment I have been waiting three months to have the pleasure of attending. NURSE: Do you have a referral? SEK: My doctor referred me, otherwise I would not have the appointment which I waited three months to have the pleasure of attending. NURSE: Let me call your Primary Care Physician. (dials phone, provides my name and information, listens) They have no record of a referral. SEK: Then why am I here? NURSE: (shrugs) SEK: Why did I receive an email reminding me to be here today at this time? NURSE: (shrugs) We can always restart the process— SEK: And I can wait another three months to be told there's no record of my referral? NURSE: Or you can see the doctor (which was becoming a pressing necessity, as SEK was experiencing some of the same symptoms that led to the diagnosis of cancer in the first place—most notably, an uncontrollable urge to nap) and pay out of pocket, straighten things out with your insurance company and be reimbursed. SEK: Fine, fine, this is why the Good Lord invented credit cards. SEK sees the endocrinologist, who is really quite extraordinary, has a few tests runs and leaves the office to get three gallons of blood work drawn at the lab. SEK: I have this long sheet of paper covered in X marks and this pad of stickers. Please steal my blood. LAB ATTENDANT: Gladly! The LAB ATTENDANT rolls up SEK's sleeves and withdraws three gallons of blood from SEK's arms. As the LAB ATTENDANT's affixing the stickers to all the tubes, he says LAB ATTENDANT: Wait a minute—these stickers have your Primary Care Physician's name on them in addition to the endocrinologists'. SEK: And this is a problem? LAB ATTENDANT: You needed to get this blood drawn at your Primary Care Physician's lab, otherwise you'll have to pay for these tests out-of-pocket. SEK: (sighs) How much out of pocket? LAB ATTENDANT: $1,800. SEK: Fine. I'll just take these tubes and stickers and drive them to the other lab. LAB ATTENDANT: You can't do that. You need a special license to transport blood. SEK: My blood? I believe it's called a "Driver's License," and I used it— LAB ATTENDANT: It's the law. SEK: (feeling the effects of losing all that blood) So what you're telling me is that I need a special license to transport my blood— LAB ATTENDANT: As...

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