Monday, January 30, 2006

A Personal Healthcare Anecdote

Last June, I broke a bone in my foot. My husband drove me and my crutches to a podiatrist's office (the first one I found at the best hospital I knew) where the receptionist responded to my request to see the doctor by saying, "We don't take walk-ins." I politely pointed out that I hadn't walked in, but rather had hobbled in. She relented.

[Thanks to for the picture.]

The kinder doctor's first question was, "Do you have health insurance?" I answered, "Yes, I have catastrophic coverage with a $5,000 deductible." ...[pause] "You don't have health insurance." ...[pause] "Oh." which point he told me that if I had had insurance, he could have proposed an operation to place some shiny pins in my bones to insure their proper alignment.

But being as I didn't have any coverage (so to speak), he thought the bones would heal pretty well as long as I wasn't a ballet dancer. I reassured him that I was not, and he issued me a heavy ski boot with instructions to put my foot up for the next month or so and come back for another X-ray.

Today, seven months and a few hundred dollars later, after a second, lighter shoe and lots of rest, I feel like I could even put my amateur toe shoes back on if I wanted to. Everything is fine, and I'm relieved that the $20,000 (?) operation is reserved only for the professional ballet dancers and/or the insured.

The Economist does an excellent job of analyzing Bush's challenges as he sets out to reform health care in America (which they announce as his main point in Tuesday's State of the Union speech.) I don't agree, however, with their conclusion that "[u]nfortunately, it will not work. The Bush agenda may speed the reform of American health care, but only by hastening the day the current system falls apart."

I wouldn't be so hasty to write it off, especially if I were as experienced as they with the fallacies of Britain's own nationalized healthcare headache. Nope; on the contrary, if by some miracle Bush can get Congress to play the game by the rules, he just may create an example for the world to emulate. (Economist article here.)


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