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Efficient Medical Care

April 29, 2010

Over the last year there has been so much talk in the US about reforming the health care.  Debate after debate went on in secret and then a vote crammed down our throats and wham. . . they say we have health care reform.  What I don’t understand exactly is what is “reformed”?  Are the lines going to be shorter?  The wait times for seeing a doctor reduced?  Fees reduced?  I honestly don’t know, because it seems like everything that is important to me: primarily the costs, speed of treatment, convenient access to medical care is going to be the same or worse!

In case you are completely disillusioned with health care in America I want you share with you about some medical treatment I just had.  It was in Cambodia.  The doctor was trained overseas and has tons of certificates all on the walls. . . just like the ones I see in America!  A friend with a knee injury recommended the clinic to me: Indochine Clinic.  I went to the clinic which is located beside a busy shopping mall during my lunch break from the office. They had many doctors on call, but I asked to see the “big doctor”, Dr. Ly.  The receptionist immediately picked up the phone and called the doctor and asked me when I wanted to see her.  I replied, “anytime” thinking it would be tomorrow or later in the evening.  The doctor responded that she would be there in 10 minutes and for the nurse to get all my information.  The doctor left lunch early to see me!

Within 10 minutes the nurse has taken care of all the vital information and preliminary “nurse work” like weight, blood pressure, pre-existing conditions and such.  Oh, and the nurse filled out all the paperwork for me, so I wouldn’t have to be bothered with a form I didn’t know or understand.  After all, it’s their form, not mine!

The doctor came and apologized for not being at the clinic when I had arrived.  My time at the clinic had only taken 8 minutes and I already was seeing the doctor.  I was there for a knee injury which I was very worried I would have to have surgery on.  I hurt my knee playing basketball.

I won’t bore you with details about how they check for a knee injury, but after a bunch of tugging, pulling and jerking she determined I would not need an MRI because my knee was very stable, it was only a strain.  She then showed me in pictures which muscles, ligament and tendons were affected.  She prescribed some pain medication and anti-inflammatory muscle treatments.  She also told me not to play basketball for six weeks. Urgh!  Total time with the doctor: 23 minutes from the time I entered the clinic to ask for an appointment until completion.

Then I went downstairs to pay the bill and purchase the medication.  This is the part everyone hates!  Not for me!  The total bill: $36.00.  No the period is not misplaced.  I received 2 boxes of medication and a wrap which came to $16.00 and the doctor charged $20.00 for her time.

In the US I might have been able to schedule a check up after seven days.  The paperwork alone would probably take 30 minutes to fill out.  Certainly with any knee injury the doctor would automatically require an MRI ($3,000) and possibly an x-ray ($500).  When I saw the doctor, it would probably be for only a few minutes so he could rush off to the next patient.   The medication: the exact same medication would have cost hundreds of dollars, not $16.

I was back at the office by the time my lunch break was over and I still had time to grab a quick bite to eat on the way back to work.

My doctor was busy too.  She had to quickly run off to her other office.  Do you know what her other job is?  She is a Senator!  I think we need new senators in America; some like Dr. Ly!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rini permalink
    April 30, 2010 1:50 am

    I enjoy and am often edified by your posts, Steve. Glad you got such good, quick, cheap care. Is that available to anyone in Cambodia who walks in off the street? When I was there for a couple of months a few years ago, I interacted with several people who could not get that kind of treatment, including two American citizens and about a dozen Cambodians. And would the average resident where you live who walks in off the street have the $36 at hand to pay? To get anything like this kind of access and affordability in the States would take a LOT more regulation than I think you’re politically inclined to support. As to your opening paragraph about the benefits of the (certainly imperfect) reforms that were passed after years of negotiation, I’d suggest that you may be right — you may not benefit. I don’t in any immediate or direct way. But people who otherwise could not afford or even be accepted for insurance (or other coverage) that allowed them to receive preventive or other non-immediately-life-threatening-situation healthcare — these are the U.S. citizens who will benefit most immediately and directly from these heavily compromised healthcare reforms. I’d be glad to share some of their stories with you if you’re interested. Peace — :) Rini

    • April 30, 2010 8:47 am

      Anyone can walk in off the street and get the same treatment. Unfortunately in Cambodia, nearly all of the hospitals and clinics are in the capital city. None of the treatment is subsidized, they are making money. This clinic has now opened three branches and is making millions in profit. Their are plenty like it in Cambodia too. I think the only affect we will see in the US is more regulations and higher costs and plenty more taxes for the rich people to pay! More regulations will never lead to lower costs, only higher costs, cause you have to add more layers of administration to oversee the new regulations. I do have insurance though… get this: world-wide coverage with only a $100 deductible good in any country in the world. . . except the United States. Cost about $150 per month for the whole family. If you want to include the USA, it costs about $1,000 per month! I don’t want to debate health care. . . but just seems the last twenty years of regulations, revisions, reforms. . . don’t go anywhere except we just pay more and more and more. Thanks for your comments Rini!

  2. Paul Brinkerhoff permalink
    May 1, 2010 2:55 am

    “We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and complex—but Congress can.”
    –Cullen Hightower

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