Tag Archive: Heathcare


Waiting Room

In Beetlejuice, the Neitherworld Waiting Room is a waiting room for ghosts. The waiting room is run by civil servants, and it is where one goes to meet or make an appointment with your afterlife case worker. There appears to be other types of offices leading from the waiting room but there is little to show what they are for.

I thought of the Neitherworld Waiting Room after attempting to reschedule a medical appointment.

“Greater State Medical and Pharmacy, how may I assist you?”

“Yes, my physician requested an MRI. I was originally scheduled for an MRI this past Thursday, but I was informed the MRI machine required repair. So, I would like to reschedule.”

“Okay. Are you a current patient?”

“No, I am being referred by Dr. Good Guy.”

“And your insurance?”

“Green Cross, Shield, and Holy Insurance Emporium.”

“Okay. The next availability we have is October 17th. I have both morning and afternoon available?”

“October?”

“I’m sorry. I know that’s quite some time away, but that’s our first availability. I can place you on a waiting list if you like?”

Boston Magazine’s noted a 2017 Merritt Hawkins study found, that in Boston, a new patient can expect to wait more than 52 days. Need a mental health professional? Three weeks. And to emphasize, I received a recommendation with an arthritis clinic to review my spine. My consult appointment is scheduled for the second week in November.

Therein lay the difficulty, wait times mean little for receptionists and billing specialists. They hold the power.

My guess is that the current system works quite well for most. However, specialists can be tough to get appointments with. In my case, I felt the receptionist was really saying, “This is the way we do things. If you want to be seen, you’ll follow the rules – our rules.” Should death take a holiday, I will have waited months. If death refuses to take a holiday, the above conversation is just another pretty pointless exchange in a probably quite common day – for her.

For a moment, I did think of Canadians. Then again, Canadians are reported to have it worse. In 2017, The Fraser Institute reported overall waiting times for medically necessary treatment increased. Specialist physicians who were surveyed, reported a median waiting time of 21.2 weeks between referral and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 20.0 weeks reported in 2016.

I note several weird stories from the news. A woman in Santa Anna, CA made news for billing her physician for the 45-minute wait time. The woman, who gets paid hourly, reportedly deducted $150 from her $223 bill return the bill, with a letter, explaining why she wouldn’t pay in full. The physician’s office reportedly agreed to the adjustment. Another physician reports he credits his patients $50 when late.

Both are interesting stories. Maybe I can buy some extra minutes from the Angel of Death.

Greetings oh great Reaper. I received this $50 bucks from my doctor, can I credit it to my account?

We take no credits.”

Damn. Mr. Reaper, you have a poor attitude.

As for me, Neitherworld Waiting Room. I wait.

Like racers competing for a prize, I wonder who’ll win: the Angel of Death, the doctor, or me? Should the Angel of Death appear and inform that my time is up and offer one final request before being accompanied from this world, I will, without hesitation, reply:

“I want a second opinion.”

“What you say, ‘six months for the first available consult?'”

“Hey. I have $50. Want a drink?”

sanders-cruz-485x261Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz went toe-to-toe over healthcare last night. In the CNN face-off, Canada made a surprise appearance when Cruz claimed Canadians leave their country in droves to seek out health care in the United States.

When I lived in Toronto, CA for a year-and-a-half, I worked on Canada’s Healthcare system. However, when I meet with focus group participants, critics of universal health care in both Canada and the United States claimed Canadians left Canada in groves to receive healthcare, especially elective healthcare in the United States.

However, the best-available research shows it’s simply not true. Canadians are not fleeing en-masse to US medical facilities. The most comprehensive look was a 2002 Health Affairs article, entitled “Phantoms in the Snow.” Researchers gathered data on Canadians’ use of US healthcare. In a nutshell, almost zippo. They found this happened rarely.

Personal experience of living and working in Canada found one true fact – even if Canadians wanted to escape, most could not afford US medical care.

The other cringe-worthy moment was Senator Ted Cruz congratulating a woman for dealing with MS.

“Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on dealing with MS,” Cruz said. “It’s a terrible disease and congratulations on your struggles dealing with it.”

If there’s a moment when someone can point to the GOP on being out-of-touch with regular Americans on healthcare, that was pretty damn close. In response, one blogger, penned:

Congratulations Ted Cruz on your struggle with being a human being.”

CNBC Jake Novak actually authored a noteworthy response.

But the best way to tackle a problem is to pinpoint what the problem is exactly. And Tuesday night’s debate helped anyone paying attention to zero in on the key problem in American health care, health insurance, and health legislation: The expense. Time and again, questions were fielded from audience members who are dealing with costly personal medical problems and challenges. They each served as crucial human examples that better showed what the colder statistics have told us for years. The hard truth is that people like those audience members, those 10 percent of Americans who are the sickest, are responsible for 64 percent of all health care costs in the country, according to research by the Department of Health and Human Services. That includes Medicare, Medicaid, and all the other forms of coverage and payment in America.

Some argue the Buddhist approach to health and healing emphasizes spiritual practice. Buddhism asserts that spiritual practice makes it possible for an individual not only to see opportunity for practice in the face of adversity, including sickness and injury, but use the opportunity for personal transformation and transcendence.

As a Buddhist having worked in the medical industry for quite some time, I see a deep awareness of cause and consequence, and insight into the nature of conditioned interdependence. Whether Buddhist, Catholic, Atheist or whatever, choice, practice and cost are factors many simply do not have control over. If you’re in pain, Buddhism, Christianity or transcendence means squat. Eventually, everyone will suffer equally. Almost everyone will become part of the 10% group absorbing 64 percent of all health care costs. So by my definition, there is a 90% chance each of us will become a class member.

In ancient days, Buddhists were healers. They cared for one another. Due to budget battles, lack of income, family resources and political partisanship, all us face or will face similar struggles as the woman Ted Cruz congratulated. I personally believe it’s up to the average joe citizen to care for one another. Why? Because our political leaders are too incompetent to help.

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