We arrived in Los Angeles in August 1979 to take up residence for a year and for me to do a year’s teaching exchange. I came with my wife and three small children. First port of call was the doctor’s because my daughter had picked up a skin infection in Washington. The doctor checked out our insurance and registered us. We were then charged a large sum for a tube of cream and consultation – a good deal more than I would have paid at the chemist.
We spent two days in the central government buildings applying for a J2 visa to enable my wife to work. The bureaucracy was horrendous.
On the first day of sitting in lines that didn’t move our three children were playing in the corridor. My younger three year old son suddenly threw himself down on the ground screaming in agony. We comforted him and tried to check what the problem but couldn’t find anything. After a little while he recovered and was fine. We were bemused but kids are kids.
On the second day, as we were leaving, he repeated this. We undressed him to discover he had a bulging groin with a distended hernia. Being a biologist I was fully aware of the dangers of such an event. A strangulating hernia cuts of the blood supply to the trapped part of the gut which dies. That is major.
We rushed him out to the car and straight to the doctor’s because we knew where that was.
I rushed in carrying my screaming child and shouting to the doctor that we had an emergency strangulating hernia. The doctor took on a supercilious tone. Who was I to diagnose such an event. My son proceeded, on cue, to projectile vomit all over him (the best bit of the whole affair) which prompted him to take it seriously.
He examined my son and ascertained that yes he did have a strangulating hernia. He then proceeded, while my little boy was still writhing about and screaming, to check his eyes, ears, nose and throat and examine the rest of his body. He then gave him a penicillin shot for a minor ear infection while we stood around in a panic not understanding what was going on. What had all this to do with the hernia? We later discovered that he’s quickly appraised that this was an insurance job and made over $1000 dollars for his various examinations (all itemised) and treatment – while my little boy was in agony.
When he was through he directed us to take him in the car to the hospital. In a panic we rushed out and drove him in. The hernia was promptly dealt with by manipulation to prevent strangulation. The surgeon asked why the doctor had not dealt with it at the surgery? It was an easy standard procedure. By this time I was about to go back and punch his lights out.
My son was operated on that night to fix the hernia. The insurance picked up the bill for his operation and the consultation and treatment in the doctor’s surgery! Every suture was itemised. It cost thousands. Great service.
By the end of our first week in the States, due to the cost of the operation, our insurance cover reduced to $3300 to cover the whole family for the year. We couldn’t afford to take out more so we put it to the back of our minds and hoped that nothing serious was going to happen.
But if it had???????
It was obvious to me that the Health Care we received put profit before people. It was all about money. That doctor scammed us and didn’t give a shit about us or my son. We were a cash cow. He was incompetent, arrogant and callous. The hospital were great but they had made a fortune out of our misfortune. If we had not been insured or our insurance was not sufficient?? I’m sure he wouldn’t have been operated on. We’d have had to take our chances.
You’re OK if you can pay!!!
This is the system that the Tories would love for us to adopt! It puts money in the pockets of their chums!!