I have been sick a lot lately, more than just the flu that I have had for about three weeks now. Without going into details I wanted to complain about an experience I had the other day. I was at an Urgent Care facility near my job in the middle of the week, mid-morning. The lobby was full and it appeared that about half of the 20 people there had appointments for the internal medicine part of the facility and the other half were walk ins like me.
It took about two hours before I was finally called in to be seen by a nurse and then wait another 15 minutes to half an hour to see a doctor. Why did it take so long? Well part of the problem is that the doctors tend to schedule their appointments 15 minutes apart which is simply not enough time for a doctor to really spend with a patient. The other part of the problem is that the doctors helping those with appointments were also seeing urgent care patients.
The third complication was the real clincher….the part that really gummed up the works–the pharmaceutical representatives. It must have THE day for sales people to stop by because one rep after another wheeled in after another. I say wheeled because they all seem to have wheeled cases full of sample drugs with them. All told while I was sitting there about 6 reps came and went completely disrupting the schedule.
Now here is my first bitch. Why do they let these sales reps have precedence over sick patients? I have known a few pharmaceutical reps in my life and to a one they made an absolute ton of money–at a minimum a six figure salary. I also know that pharmaceutical industry is a multi-trillion dollar profit making industry. And I know that they give doctors free drug samples to encourage the use of those specific drugs and that the odds are the drugs we are given are the ones pushed hardest by the sales reps, not necessarily the ones best suited for your situation.
More importantly, I know that those sales reps can wait. We have a shortage of doctors in the U.S. and there are tons of reps competing for their limited attention. So again, I have to ask why do those sales reps get preferential treatment over sick patients? They shouldn’t and the doctors should have the upper hand in that relationship but for some reason they don’t act like it.
The other thing that pisses me off was how much the facility charges and their policies. This was the fourth time I had been to this Urgent Care for the exact same problem–there aren’t that many urgent care places in my neighborhood. Most doctors don’t charge you for follow up visits related to the same problem….usually because they should have helped you the first time and subsequent visits are usually their fault. Not this place. They charged me all four times as if it was the first time I had walked in the door.
Add to that the fact that I didn’t know that they would take my insurance for the first three visits. So they charged me $115 each time. On the fourth time I finally got them to accept my insurance and you know how much I saved? $15…that’s it. When I asked them why they said, when you were self-pay the $115 was a discount. It’s normally $200 when a person has insurance and my insurance required a $100 co-pay….hence the whopping savings of $15.
One more little gem to share….there was this young man in his twenties with his mom who waited over an hour. They finally called him up to get his co-pay and the receptionist wanted to charge him the co-pay for both his primary and secondary insurance. Does that makes sense? Isn’t secondary insurance supposed to cover what the first insurance doesn’t? Why would anyone ever have secondary insurance if they had to pay twice to see a doctor one time?! The mother and the son stormed out after having waited all that time and I didn’t blame them one whit.
But the U.S. healthcare system is soooooooo awesome and the best in the world!!!! (for the sarcastically impaired this is snark)