Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Curious Case of American Health Care System

Well for the last one week I am in United States of America, traveling from Washington DC to Newyork. This happened when I was in DC. On the first day of the conference I was mighty thrilled during the registration when they gave us a medical insurance card for 4 days and I casually commented to a fellow participant 'wow this is a good motivation to fall sick'.
Little did I realize God the almighty has tuned all his/her ears only to my pleas. My first encounter with the American Health System was quick enough when a fellow participant an Indian Judge had watering in her eyes which later turned into blurred vision in one of the eye. Armed with our medical insurance card we rushed to the minute clinic of a CVS pharmacy. The doctor there was very sweet and kind... put a of lot eyes drops,checked the eye inside out with all possible devices and than gallantly declared that he cannot treat it and we need to go to a eye specialist.So we humbly asked is there anything that we could do in the meantime.
And lo and behold the doctor opens his book and also the Google search engine...searches desperately for temporary solutions and then finally reads out that we may try hot compress on the eyes.
In the 20 minutes we spend with him, 10 mins was for documentation( which he said he has to complete), 6 mins to read from his books and 4 mins for the eyes. And after all that he says the insurance does't work. The Honb'le judge paid 62$ just to be told she has to go to a eye specialist !
12 hours later I developed severe pain on my knees...I just could not lift my knee...panic set in when I could not walk even after taking 2 pain killers. Well the wonderful organizers were worried and they rushed me and also the judge to the emergency care in a big hospital nearby. There again I was treated with some amount of compassion when a male nurse took my vitals etc...wrote on several papers my history etc. And after half an hour of waiting they took to the ward. In the ward they promptly put a identification mark on my wrist and then they left promising that the doctor will come soon to check.
Litlle did I know here in America "in a moment" could mean anything from 5mins to 2hrs. I waited and waited for some wonderful doctor to come. In the meantime I see a lot of doctors and nurses seemingly busy running around...not sure where( there were not too many patients anyway)
Finally losing patience after 2hrs I called a nurse and asked her when a doctor will come and check me. She in a very important tone told me that they had many other 'sick' people and they will attend to me only after some of those priorities are cleared.
Finally a doctor came,checked my kneed from all angles gave me some very serious looks and told me that there is a need to take an X ray under a scan as he suspects a blood clot. Since I did not look very impressed he continued and said this is a dangerous situation as the clot may got to my heart( Oh my gosh I may have hear attack) and then he said he will be back 'in a moment'
Again the moment streched to an half an I had lost any interest in getting my knees better I rather had an heart attack than while away my time in a Amercian Hospital.
I called for the doctor and I told him I want to leave...he was very upset and wrote in his notes that if I had a chest pain or breathlessness I should rush back to the emergency care...I was now just desperate to leave...I came out of the ward and who do I see still sitting in the reception 'the Indian Judge'.Even after 3 and a half hours they did not think her eye problem was a priority!
What did I learn? Never fall sick in USA,and if by bad luck you fall sick make sure you have a insurance that works otherwise you will pay through your nose just for a thoroughly useless check up. I wonder the fate of millions of migrants in America who do not have health insurance.
And finally I will never ever complain about Indian Hospitals not even a Indian Government Hospital...