When It Works
There are some things that I am grateful for that I had are almost entirely based on luck. Had a been born a mere 100 km or less away from where I was, this story might have been very different. I’ve complained before about how long it can sometimes take to get decent medical care here but over than past two decades, things have trended very well.
This is the second year that the entirely family had been hit with illnesses in short succession. I’m not sure if these viruses and bacteria have the ability to evolve in each of us and increase in potency, but it seems like it always reaches some culmination where the index patient get sick again but even worse.
Fortunately, when this occurred, we had the strength and wherewithal to get to a walk in clinic. There are 10 within a 10 minute drive of my house… that are open… on a weekend. More had opened in the past year and it was easy to search for them in Google Maps from my phone, see which ones were listed as open, and even to call a few to see if there was a long wait.
When we arrived at the clinic (we did have to stop by the office adding a 15 minute extra trip to pick up one of the kids’ health card… without it, you have to pay out of pocket but can get reimbursed a few weeks later once you do bring it in), there was no wait. We were brought into the check up room after our information was entered. About five minutes later, the doctor showed up and checked over each of us.
On the spot, we were swabbed for strep throat and he came back that this was the culprit. We were given a prescription for antibiotics (different types and dosages for us, our girls and based on their ages and weights), when we could expect to feel better, possible over the counter drugs we could take and any side affects. We were asked about allergies and were given a fairly good amount of diagnostic questions to feel confident that the doctor was doing good doctoring. Picking up the drugs at a nearby Shoppers was a solo 20 minute trip after the family had been dropped off at home. While the drugs were covered by private insurance (except for a $12 dispensing fee per prescription), the drugs were generic and fairly inexpensive, likely less than the fee itself.
Nearly two days later, we’re mostly on the mend. No fevers, a good response to the course of treatment, and symptoms subsiding. If the equivalent visit had meant paying several hundred dollars out of pocket, of course I would have paid it if I could but there would be others who would be very pained by that and might have avoided seeking treatment. The alternative outcome could have been complications from the infection that led to pneumonia or worse and emergency interventions that would have cost much more.
Some would argue that I could have benefited from better service but I don’t know how much better I could have had it in this situation. No wait, lots of choice, an abundance of drug availability. As I get older, and public health care gets better, the argument for a US style fully private system makes less sense.