Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Just Sit Tight
We have been caught between two health care systems. Ours, which has ridiculous hoops to jump through, and the Canadian one, which is a government run bureaucracy.
Before leaving home, we obtained new prescriptions for which we were told we could obtain 90 day supplies at Walmart. In Baltimore, MD in May, we determined that was BS; 30 days only. Not to worry, Walmart was in Canada so we were told we could fill our monthly prescriptions there…
So here’s how that goes:
8:30 AM Phone Walmart, find that our US prescriptions are worthless; must see Canadian doctor to obtain new ones.
8:35 AM Call first clinic…told they cannot see us. Called second, told to “sit tight”, they’d get back to us…
10:00 AM Determine that the two “clinics” (the only place besides a hospital you get care here) will not see us.
10:30 AM Leave Killbear Marina on taxi ($60) to hospital emergency room , our only option. Told by the triage nurse to “sit tight”, she’ll be with us in a few.
11:30 AM Find out from the nurse that to get treated there will cost $500 each to get in, PLUS whatever doctor fees.
11:35 AM Call the two clinics again, begging. The second one tells me to “sit tight” and after 10 minutes on hold agrees to see us at 1:00 PM.
1:00 PM Taxi to clinic ($15). Meet Dr. S., a great guy, who writes the five prescriptions we need. (Doctor fee $80).
1:30 PM Taxi to Walmart ($10). Drop off prescriptions. We are told it will take 2 hours, so we slowly, do our grocery shopping, visiting also the hardware, sporting goods, electronics, housewares, children’s clothing…you get the picture.
3:30 PM I sit in the Walmart entry with a loaded cart while my bride goes to retrieve the meds at the pharmacy…
4:00 PM Reluctantly, I end my conversation with Leonard, the Walmart greeter (whose great-great uncle was Daniel D. Tompkins, the US Vice-President under President Monroe. Mr. Tompkins was apparently impeached from office, either hung or drank himself to death, but, was later exonerated of all charges…I kid you not. Haven’t had time yet to double check Leonard’s story, but, somehow I believe it) when Carrie calls from the pharmacy and tells me there is a problem with one of the prescriptions. They had sent the clinic a FAX an hour earlier…
4:01 PM Talk to Mary at the clinic who says they never got the FAX; have the pharmacy call soon, because Dr. S. will be leaving shortly.
4:02 PM Get Leonard to watch my cart, sprint to the pharmacy, give them Dr. S.’s number, run back to my cart.
4:05 PM Get another call from Carrie…the doctor had left.
5:15 PM Arrive (by taxi, $60) back at Killbear.
5:16 PM Martini…OK, two.
8:30 AM Start calling clinic.
9:01 AM Reach clinic on phone, told to “sit tight, they are on it.
10:30 AM Tired of sitting tight, call Walmart, learn that they had talked to Dr. S., but that Dr. S. needed to talk to me…huh?
11:35 AM Finally reach Dr. S., who explains the problem to me. We already knew the solution (it had been obvious since yesterday), but…whatever…we agree to his solution.
3:30 PM Taxi from Killbear to Walmart ($60). Pay $250 for our prescriptions (don’t even think about trying to get our insurance carrier involved).
5:15 PM Arrive by taxi ($60) back at Killbear marina.
5:16 PM Two martinis…OK, three.
What we learned
1. American insurance companies rules are designed so that you get fed up and pay for stuff yourself
2. The Canadian single payer system results in hugely crowded clinics AND emergency rooms, and there is nowhere else to go.
3. Canadians hate their system, so those that told you otherwise were lying.
4. Drugs are cheaper here. One of my prescriptions cost us $120 in Canada. It was $354 in Baltimore, (where for some unknown reason our carrier refused to cover it after six months of doing so…see #1 above).
5. We have been “sitting tight” for too long…and if someone tells me to sit tight again, I may go postal…tomorrow we head for Britt, on the Byng Inlet.
6. Daniel D. Tompkins was the VP of the US under President Monroe…maybe!