Another One Bites the Dust

obamacareGot a letter from United Healthcare this week to inform me that my OB/GYN no longer participates in their network. I will call the practice to see why and to see if I can rustle up a replacement for her. Can’t see that she retired like my endocrinologist and our pediatrician and dermatologist all did, as she’s only in her 30s. Maybe she went concierge, as my 40-something primary care physician did.

How odd – we’ve lost four doctors in about two years. Until now, I’ve never had a doctor retire on me. One stopped taking our insurance 20+ years ago, before we had United. And one moved back to New York to be close to family after 9/11.

I’m sure it’s a good sign. After all, the healthcare system in Canada is so great:

– One of my best friends, in Calgary, waited 13 months for an MRI after a ski accident and, yes, she needed surgery on her knee. Too bad she’d been hobbling around on it all that time. Might have made it worse.

– Years ago, my sister had kidney stones and was going to have to wait weeks before the “kidney stone blasting machine” made its way to Calgary. This was a bit of a problem since she was a) in a lot of pain, and b) a single mom paid hourly – if she didn’t show up for work, she didn’t get paid. Luckily, my parents knew someone and he was able to get her in – although I believe she had to drive to Edmonton to have the procedure.

– My mother’s best friend has something wrong with her and has been waiting to be seen. She’s been getting increasingly depressed – enough to alarm her husband and kids. Luckily, her son is a vascular surgeon and pulled some strings to get her in and now they are running some tests.

– My friend’s mother (70s), in Winnipeg, wanted to have a colonoscopy, so she lied and told her doctor that she had blood in her stool. She knew he wouldn’t approve it otherwise.

– My brother would like a colonscopy as our great-grandfather and uncle died of colon cancer, but he’s not yet 50 and Canadian healthcare won’t cover it. My uncle was dead at 56 and my great-grandfather was even younger.

– My Dad was on a three year wait list to get his knee replaced, before he had a stroke and was no longer a candidate. Once his condition deteriorated badly, my mother assumed he’d get a spot in a nursing home that would be covered by the Canadian insurance system so she’d only have to pay $1,500 vs. $7,500/mo. It came as a massive shock when it looked like that wasn’t going to happen. Luckily, though, she needed a hip replacement and it ended up by all coming together. But, now we know that you need to get the ball rolling years before someone needs a nursing home – basically by having cognitive tests done unnecessarily early – just to get on the list. Plus, my mom is well aware now that there aren’t enough “beds” for everyone. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Lots of wealthier Canadians head south to the States for procedures they don’t want to wait for. I asked my Mom, who only watches CNN and adores Obama, where these people would go once the US healthcare system had deteriorated to the point of Canada’s. She said she’d heard that Cuba had a wonderful healthcare system. No joke. That’s what she told me. I suggested a country that routinely doesn’t have enough toilet paper for its citizens might be a little suspect when it comes to surgery. And I told her we could not discuss the subject again. Ever.

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