And apology... I have just spent half the day in an "urgent care" clinic talking the doc out of sending me to the hospital. My flag article part II is therefore a bit behind, but will try to finish tomorrow.
In the meantime, since this was a Friday night, everything was busy and I had to wait two hours, giving me lots of time to chat with interesting strangers. One could not wait because she had a job which started at 10 at night and it was nearing 9 p.m.; she'd arrived at seven. Another needed a special transportation to get home, but they refused to come fetch her until she had been seen -- she was there with a lively year-old grandson and a damaged foot, and was having to chase him all around, which by the second hour was growing old.
The assistant who took my vitals was polite and a little standoffish till we wandered into the realm of health insurance. She was so excited by the Affordable Care Act. She'd just been at a training on its implications for health care workers and how it was going in Minnesota. "Imagine," she said, "A million more people can now get seen than could get care last week." The glitches were not as important to her as they were to the headlines: "There is no health care system without bureaucratic problems."
But, she said, at least she wouldn't have to cry the way she wanted to when they turned families away. "They require $150 here to see a patient without insurance -- $150 up front, and I saw people last week who just didn't have it, and had to go home. Now, we could help them."
Later, the doc (run off his legs, but succumbing to my charm, I suppose, since he became chattier eventually) was trying to determine if a particular test meant anything, since I was in another health system normally and therefore the other test results were not on his computer. I commented that I'd switched insurance, but had no inclination to switch medical providers.
"In a few years," he commented, "people won't be able to discriminate against prior condition, and the motives to limit who you can go to won't be in play. Maybe then we'll be sharing records."
I don't know. I only know that judging from purely anecdotal evidence, the medical people I see don't think Obamacare is a thing of the devil, and are excited at the people they may now be able to help.
I wonder if all those foaming at the mouth in Congress concerning Obamacare know that years ago federal money helped hospitals open, and in trade, the hospitals had to agree to treat people who couldn't pay, rather than kick them to curb. Probably they would have thought that was unwarranted government interference in human lives as well.
Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 10:19 AM PT: Sunday, 10/20/13
I do hope people who read this are reading all the comments, which are amazing and deserve whole columns of their own. I did want to add one bit which I have said a couple times in replies but deserves to be highlighted: Quality of care and time of wait tend to be class variables. Better insurance = more choices = need to make customers happy. (Don't fool yourself that for-profit medical conglomerates think in terms of patients.)
And second: class differences overlap with racism, big time. In the four hours I was in the clinic, I, the doc, and one young couple were the only white people I saw.
Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 10:22 AM PT: Can't figure out how to make a short link for updates, but one of my commenters rec'cd this site, which does a nice job of critiquing the ACA from the left: