Wednesday, March 11, 2009

If It's Wednesday...

..It must be time to talk about medical mayhem!

Ugh, I know. I KNOW. Another post about my malodorous malady, my ignominious illness. My compunction for consumption. This despicable disease. Well aside from a lovely catch up last night with my friend Stephen, who is visiting from Brisbane, there ain't a lot else going on this week. I could FILL your screen with posts about the 2009 "So You Think You Could Dance", so just be glad it's sputum instead. So to speak.

I went back to my doctor this afternoon, and surprise! I might have whooping cough after all. I got jabbed with a needle and had a throat swab taken, as 2 weeks of a deep, persistent cough is officially not good. That and a bulletin was faxed to doctors today saying that Sydney has has over 3,000 diagnosed cases of whooping cough so far this year and is officially in epidemic.

One minor comedic moment was the throat swab. After a few minutes of warning that she had to touch the back of my throat with the swab, an advance apology and warning for the gagging to ensue, and even a 'now get ready' count down, I was like "have you done it yet?" Even though in truth I did feel the gentle caress of her giant cotton-bud swap as it brushed my uvula on the way out.

Chalk that one up to years of experience.

It still might not be the dread Cough of Whooping, because I have to go and have a chest x-ray as well. The lower left lobe of my lung sounds 'crackly' apparently, so it may be a common old chest infection.

It seems apropos to talk about the cost of medical care. I watched with horror a story about the cost of medical care in the US on "Foreign Correspondent" last night. I'm sure they chose extreme cases, but the story of a woman who wasn't allowed to have her chemo bag hooked up until her husband arrived with a cheque, or the woman with Parkinsons who was told to bring a cheque for $45,000 with her to her medical appointment (and consequently she has been without treatment for nearly a year) were shocking. People queuing all night in the freezing cold to receive free medical treatment in a school gymnasium. With the US economy tanking, how many more people who are without insurance, or under insured, will go without care?

As I saw my GP tonight, even though she ran nearly an hour late (I was the last appointment of the day) I was so thankful for the cheap care. I had a swab and blood test done at no cost and of my regular $58 consult fee I get $33.55 back from Medicare within about 48 hours. On Saturday I have to have a chest x-ray, which shouldn't cost me anything either, and then another visit to the GP. So all up, what, $48.90 out of pocket? (If I've done my sums right.)

Yes it is true that as well as these up front costs I have also contributed to my medical care (and everyone else's) through taxes, the Medicare Levy and the $27.56 a fortnight I pay for basic private cover as well. But that's not huge sums of dollars, and it's mostly money that I either don't see or don't miss. If it means that I, and others, don't have to queue for treatment in a draughty gymnasium when I'm feeling poorly... well it seems especially cheap.


Cecilia said...

The American healthcare system is shocking, isn't it? They have the best medical care in the world, and yet it is out of reach to too many.

Hope you are feeling better! At least now that they have diagnosed you, they can give you drugs and fix you, right?

The Other Andrew said...

Well, the diagnosis is sort of up in the air still... but they have put me on the treatment for whooping cough as a form of prophylaxis. Given how contagious WC is.

Andrea James said...

Before I moved here, when I had glandular fever, my private health care covered most of my one night in the hospital, and I still had to pay over $2k for the remainder.

Adam didn't believe me about how bad it was until one visit when he got bit by a venomous spider (o irony!) and we had a hospital road trip through several states (all on the credit card, fortunately reimbursed by travel insurance). One doctor raided the supply cabinet and gave us a bunch of free stuff because he knew how much we were paying for a basic bandage change.

The Other Andrew said...

Andrea, I can't help but compare my experiences in having overnight stays in a private hospital for my sleep studies. $200 excess for the first one (because I hadn't claimed on my private cover before), then nothing at all to pay for the ones since. Private room, flat screen tv, cable... so nice I almost wanted to move in. Almost. The food was still hospital food.

James Polley said...

A workmate of mine visiting the US passed out in a bar and woke up the next morning in a hospital.

Ambulance to take him a few kms to the hospital; bunch of blood tests to check for various intoxicants; some bags of saline to up his blood pressure - and one MRI scan, because he was still unconcious and they wanted to be sure.

By the time he work up he had a $25k bill waiting for him.

Fortunately travel insurance covered it.

LynS said...

I had a recent half-day in hospital, admitted through emergency services to check on some chest pains. Extensive checking, and no evidence of heart problems. It cost me nothing other than the taxes and levies I pay over time, and I left feeling extremely grateful for our medical system.

Tall and Handsome said...

Oh, Mimi. It's not long now before I hold your tiny, frozen hand. Love Rodolfo.

Mousicles said...

Hoorah for a medical system that means you don't have to think about whether you can afford to be healthy.

Until reproduction was involved, I'd never needed a hospital but my 3 stays in there since cost me nothing and if I didn't go, I'd be dead.

I have no issue with the government spending my tax money on health care. There should be more of it!

jason said...

" brushed my uvula on the way out."

Gosh..for a minute there I read the word "vulva".

aaaanyway...I won't even bore you with the horrors of the post- hurricane "health" "care" "system" here.

I hope you're feeling better soon.

whooping cough sounds rather exotic, rather like a whooping crane.)

Quatrefoil said...

Oh no. I really hope for your sake that it's not WC as I learnt to call it during the *eleven* weeks I had off work with it in 2000 (I was so sick I eventually went home to Mother). You'll know soon enough if it is - it's hard to diagnose because it looks like a chest infection for about 3 weeks (and there can be secondary chest infections) but then you will cough with a very distinctive sound like a seal. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Lara said...

Oh dear. I hope it isn't WC (or consumption). And I hope I didn't give it to you!

The bad news about the cost - if it is WC, you have to take anti-biotics that won't make you feel better, but will stop you form being infectious will cost you about $30.

And if anyone you've been in contact with need to have a vaccination, it can cost a lot. Mark paid $75 to see a GP, and $130 for the jab. Medicare covers about half of the GP, private cover paid back about $60.

My GP said it is called the 100 day cough, so I hope you don't have it and are feeling better soon (still coughing here).

Victor said...

I had whooping cough about three years ago. It took my doctor weeks to correctly diagnose it and that was only following an x-ray and blood tests. Until them I had no idea that adults could get it. It took over three months to clear and there has been no reoccurence since.