Medical care?

One reason that this was a good week to start a new blog is that I’m home from work. I didn’t plan to be. I’m home taking care of Mr. Yenta who is suffering from phlebitis. He had this four or five years ago and no sooner did he show up at the doctor’s office with a pain in his leg they were ultrasounding him and sending him off to the hospital, STAT. He was in for about a week and he’s been on Warfarin ever since with no recurrence of the problem. Yes, things were going fine in that area until a couple of weeks ago, when his endocrinologist sent him to a vascular specialist because she was concerned about the circulation in his feet. Mr. Yenta is diabetic with advanced neuropathy, so he’s at risk for circulatory problems and if they’re in his feet he’s not likely to recognize them by feel or lack thereof.

Vascular specialist seemed more interested in why he had been taking Warfarin for so long. She did tests, told him he was free of phlebitis and that he should stop taking it. Funny thing, though – turns out he was free of phlebitis because he was taking the drug. Not more than a couple of weeks after stopping it, he started having pain in his leg. It felt familiar this time. It felt like clot to him. We packed a few things just in case and I drove him to our family doctor who, unlike several specialists he’s seen, has never tried to kill him.

Things have changed in the last few years and you don’t necessarily have to be hospitalized for this now. That was good news. The doctor still needed an ultrasound and he still needed it STAT, so he sent us to the hospital because they’d be able to do it right away. And they would. But our insurance company wasn’t ready to approve it. Nope, they thought that later on, in the afternoon, when our assigned lab had time would be good enough. From what we heard later, the doctor’s office tried every which way to get an approval for an immediate test, but were unsuccessful. Their flimsy reason – that if he had the suspected condition it could be life threatening if untreated – didn’t impress them a bit.

The lab did indeed find a clot in his leg and sent us back to the doctor’s office, where he got injected, prescriptions and instructions. He has to go back each day until his tests are where they need to be. So I ask again, just how much worse off would we be with universal health care? With a single-payer system, even? How much less choice would we have?

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