What do those without insurance do?

Today’s health care debates have made me very aware of the stability I’ve had in my own health care for a long, very long, time. And for that I’m grateful.

I’ve also noticed that an attitude of  selfish indifference for what others may experience in health care tends to yield few ideas for reform. Although, I can most assuredly state from observation, that it does yield much spirited opposition to any attempts to make things better, for oneself or anyone else.

Anyway, the internist I had since the 70s retired a few years ago. I needed to find another, as did my wife. Her ob/gyn gave her a list for us to consider. A little online research (yes, I have online access as well as health care insurance) gave us a few promising prospects, those who were also “in-network,” so we began making initial appointments.

My choice wasn’t a complete failure, and I stayed with him for a couple of years. In the end, however, he seemed more interested in asserting his office hours than attending to those who might need his professional assistance. An excruciating headache accompanied by red blotches all over my legs elicited a question about  why I was calling after 4:30 since the office was open all day.

Well, I don’t need a doctor to make me feel disrespected when I was already scared with a headache reminiscent of my meningitis of ’92. So, I asked my cardiologist for a couple of names. My favorite on the list spoke my language … also a  meningitis survivor  … and upon hearing about my headache, ordered a scan to dismiss a “sentinel bleed” as a potential cause. He had asked, “Was it the worst headache you’ve ever had?”, rather than “Why are you calling after hours?”

A year later he left the group and established himself beyond a 15-mile non-compete radius. His new location wasn’t what I would call convenient, at least for the long term. I signed up with the new guy in the same group, an internist from Iraq. He left for family or other personal reasons before I could see him more than once.

I again signed up with the new guy in the group. This one is from Pakistan. I have seen him once, and he seems to be a good fit. He also listens.

What am I trying to say? After more than 30 years with the same internist, I am now on my 4th replacement. But I’m not concerned. The hospital system I have aligned myself with has incredible bench strength. My insurer has an online resource for quick and easy assessment of credentials when I’m given a list of names.

What do those without insurance do?

I’ve had my ophthalmologist since ’85, my cardiologist and electro-cardiologist since ’06, my ENT since ’07, a retinologist since ’07, my dermatologist since the early 90s, and a 2009 model internist.

But something may be of interest, I’m actually in very good health, run regularly, am very active in whatever I wish to do. Feel good, not over-weight. Pacemaker gets good battery life, and if they ever make one which is rechargeable based on exercise, they’d really be on to something … something of a hybrid, I suppose.

None of this is by accident. As I’ve said, I’ve had great stability in my heath care for a very long time … the same length of time I’ve had health care insurance.

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