Today was my first experience with the Australian health care system.
It reminded me of the Simpson’s episode (Treehouse of Horror III) where Homer goes to the ‘House of Evil”:
Owner: Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse! Homer: [worried] Ooooh, that's bad. Owner: But it comes with a free Frogurt! Homer: [relieved] That's good. Owner: The Frogurt is also cursed. Homer: [worried] That's bad. Owner: But you get your choice of topping! Homer: [relieved] That's good. Owner: The toppings contains Potassium Benzoate. Homer: [stares] Owner: That's bad.
I’ll highlight “That’s Good” in Blue, and “That’s Bad” in Red
Since I arrived in Australia, I have stopped taking my allergy medications and really haven’t needed them
I came home from Work Friday with a sore throat
Saturday I went mountain biking because it didn’t feel that bad
Sunday I woke up feeling a lot worse.
I still stumbled out the door for our first ever “drive on the left side of the road” experience.
Sunday evening I began to feel nasty again
Nyquil knocked me out
Monday morning I felt like death re-heated in our narrow oven. I woke up and sent email to some co-workers asking how the hell to find a doctor in Sydney.
A colleague fired back a great response explaining that a “Medical Centre” would see you as a walk in, while a better practice would probably not have availability.
I called a reliable practice close to our apartment and managed to get an appointment two weeks out.
I walked to the closest Medical Centre, “Paddington Medical Centre,” which was only a few blocks away from home.
They do not see walk-ins. I asked, “Don’t places named Medical Centre take walk-ins?” “Yes, but not this place.”
I walked further down a k or so to the Darlinghurst Medical Centre, and they do take walk-ins!
There were 22 people in front of me to see 4 doctors.
I was still seen in less than 50 minutes after arriving.
The doctor examined me for what must have been 45 seconds and said “you have no bacterial infection so there’s nothing we can do” and the appointment was over. Typically in the states if I explain my medical history, (i.e. I drop the “transplant” bomb) they counsel me through what they think I have and how to deal with it. Or maybe they actually try and help because of 1) fear of malpractice 2) the chance to work with a patient with a complex medical history. Here, no dice. At the end the doctor asked me “What do they usually do with you?” which did not inspire confidence.
I walked out knowing that I just had a virus or cold.
I paid $90 for that privilege.
I contacted my health cover (insurance company) and found that I could submit my receipts and be reimbursed.
I could not submit them online.
In the end every health care system is a flawed, mixed bag of being too expensive, not paying enough attention to patients, patients who are too demanding, not enough controls, too many controls, doctors with too much power, doctors without enough control, and latex. It’s never going to be perfect. But I hope in my lifetime I can find ways to make a difference.
And I’m really tired of being sick.