August 19th, 2009

How I Survived Socialized Medicine (Barely!)

Posted in Personal, Policy, Travel by MB

So, earlier today, I found myself in the terrifying position of relying upon socialized medicine. Around 11a, it became apparent that I needed to quickly see a general practitioner (albeit one with a bit of specialised skill). With much trepidation, I rang the number of the nearest office. Having been well educated by my fellow Americans on the evils of socialized medicine, I was certain that I would be placed on a months long waiting list. Nevertheless, I politely made my query, bracing for the worst.

“Yes, Mr. Blacknell, we can certainly see you today. How does 2pm sound? That should give you enough time to get over here.”

What?! I was immediately suspicious. Clearly, I had been tricked into calling some impersonal superfactory of “health care”, where I’d probably only ever get to talk to some bureaucrat who would place himself between me and the doctor, making sure that he approved of all questions and answers. Unfortunately, I needed a doctor, and I needed one now. So, steeling myself against the threat of collective health, I headed to the address I’d been given.

Arriving at the small office, I smelled deception. It appeared to be a one doctor operation, in a small standalone building just across from the local supermarket. But I knew this was impossible. All small businesses are destroyed by socialism, as every American knows. Perhaps this was a clever front, with an above ground entrance leading to an underground warren of government functionaries and outdated equipment. My worst fears were confirmed as I entered:

“Hello, I have an appointment for 2p . . .”

“Oh, hi, Mark!”

I was ensnared by The System already.

Fearing the worst, I decided to play along. Against my better judgment, I confirmed that I was, in fact, “Mark.” And that I’d made an appointment earlier in the day. At this point, the bureaucrat (cleverly disguised as a really nice lady, full of smiles) went in for the kill – “Mark, before you see Dr. X, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork.” Oh, right. Here it comes. The invasive queries. The recording of my every intimate moment for government use. The reams and reams of paperwork designed to deny me any sort of actual health care.

She handed me a clipboard with a single page, printed front and back.

Obviously, this was another trick designed to lull me into a sense of complacency. To be come reliant upon The System. First it’s simplified paperwork, but the next thing you know, you’ll be getting simple health care. Devious, really. However, because 1) I needed to see a doctor, but also 2) because I am dedicated to exposing the evils of socialized medicine to my fellow Americans, I complied. I have to say, I found it very uncomfortable, answering questions directly related to the reason I came to see a doctor in the first place. Ridiculous bureaucracy, really.

Having slogged through the questionnaire, front and back, I handed it back to the cleverly disguised government functionary. She smiled, and – this is where the metal meets the road – she produced a specimen cup. In the interests of protecting your sensibilities, I will just confirm that yes, as the great patriot General Jack Ripper warned us, they’re after our precious bodily fluids. It was when I – fearful of the many consequences that were certain to now befall me – handed back the sample that the government functionary (until then maintaining her clever disguise, greeting everyone as they came in by name) showed her true colors “Thanks, Mark, please have a seat and the doctor will be with you shortly.” HA! Busted. I knew I would be sitting there for an eternity.

“Would you like some tea? Coffee?”

I knew better than to accept such an obvious Trojan horse. In my experience, no real doctor provides any sort of comfort to his patients. So I politely refused, wondering if I’d set off a warning somewhere in Central Administration. About three pages into a 1995 article (see?! Outdated equipment!) on Kiwi nationals in the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, I heard a dark (okay, friendly, but still) voice say “Mr. Blacknell?” I looked up to see what could only have been an evil government agent disguised as a middle-aged and kindly doctor calling for me from within what was probably some sort of worth-estimation chamber. Surely, my fate was sealed.

I entered, senses ablaze, ready to defend myself from malpractice, medieval equipment, and/or death panels. I was in the belly of the beast.

[What followed, I cannot reveal here. It was, without a doubt, obviously part of some conspiracy to fool me into telling my fellow Americans that I received excellent evaluative and prescriptive care. I knew it was fake when I spent 10 minutes chatting with the doctor about our travels and skiing and the nature of local tourism. A wiley one, she was. I will always remember her parting words, though. “Take care, Mark, and have a great time [insert name of socialized hell]. Please call me if you have any questions.” Pure, unadulterated socialism.]

Exiting my time with the doctor, I was prepared for the worst. This is where they would find out that I was not part of the collective, that I was a free American who has no option to be part of refused to be part of the evils of socialized medicine. Surely sirens would sound and lights would blaze, indicating that should not be allowed to leave the premises with my life intact.

“Oh, no problem, Mark. That’ll be [US$ 50.00], if that works for you.”

Oh, ho. Clearly, this was part of another clever ruse to disguise the fact that no one outside of The System is ever allowed Into The System. Me, a well-off American, would never be granted treatment in this workers’ paradise. I decided to prove this fact by feigning a lack of cash, and asking if they would take my American Express. When they refused, it would provide the string I’d need to unravel this blanket of deception.

“No worries. It’ll just take a second.”

Hmm. Cleverer than I thought. So clever, in fact, that I simply handed her my card, was charged, and left (even with the copy of everything, that I pointedly asked for near the end.). As I set out to cross the street on my path back to my hotel, though, the reality of the system was finally revealed. I stepped up to the road, and looked left, as any red-blooded American knows to do. And I began to cross the road when all of a sudden, a TRUCK CAME BARRELLING DOWN THE STREET FROM THE RIGHT. This is how they make it work, people! They kill everyone by driving on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD, thus saving future health care costs!

Read this again. Do you want to have this sort of experience in the US? I think the answer is obvious.

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  1. Dirt says:

    Why the hell didn’t I take the blue pill?? ;)

    Thanks Sir. Good reading.

    August 19th, 2009 at 7:42 am

  2. selila says:

    I believe it is your duty to embark on further travel to expose other such devious practices of socialist states.

    It makes for great reading.

    (I hope you are feeling better.)

    August 19th, 2009 at 7:53 am

  3. DT says:

    so, if you are goign to make us guess what the ailment was (privacy and all that), my two guesses are –

    1) blue balls from when M kicked you in the nether region

    2) crabs – once again provided by above mentioned M.

    August 19th, 2009 at 8:54 am

  4. Tube Sock Wearin' Troidl (when its not 100 degrees) says:

    You feeling better? I know that’s not the correct comment – but am just a tad concerned.

    Well written – still seems a tad off to me – I can’t imagine friendliness being coupled with medicine. I’m going to have to ponder this one.

    August 19th, 2009 at 8:56 am

  5. Will says:

    Have you checked that both your kidneys are still there?

    They must fund this service somehow.

    (nice article)

    August 19th, 2009 at 8:58 am

  6. The Fairer Herrington says:

    You are obviously a bleeding-heart-liberal-socialist, hellbent on confirming Michael Moore’s biases. You’re lucky you’re young, employed, and have a strong back. Otherwise you would have been led through doorway #2, behind which waited a firing squad.

    I hope you’re feeling better!

    August 19th, 2009 at 9:17 am

  7. Plin says:

    Damn you for making me teary-eyed first thing in the morning!

    And the worst part is, I can’t tell if it’s from amusement or acute nostalgia for The System.

    August 19th, 2009 at 9:52 am

  8. Jared says:

    Your use of ‘specialised’ in the first paragraph points out that, your wide-ranging formative years not withstanding, you were lobotomi(s|z)ed or otherwise brainwashed while on your adventure. I am amazed your handlers allowed this through.

    Speedy recovery and safe travels. The lines you didn’t have to wait in to see a physician will surely be made up for in passport control.

    August 19th, 2009 at 5:33 pm

  9. Mike@Blueweeds says:

    A pretty good post for a socialist cog.

    Even if it was written and edited by slave laborers warehoused in a remote gulag in some workers paradise.

    August 19th, 2009 at 6:12 pm

  10. Vivian J. Paige says:

    Great article! Hope you’re feeling better. And get back home safely.

    August 19th, 2009 at 11:15 pm

  11. Amit says:

    oh let me guess! you’re in India. no? China? no? A country with less than 10% of the US population? :-)

    what works locally doesn’t usually scale. and I thought you were against anecdotes!

    August 20th, 2009 at 11:42 pm

  12. MB says:

    What is it that the kids say? Oh, that’s right:



    August 21st, 2009 at 7:26 am

  13. Amit says:

    I’m guessing since you’re on vacation you don’t want to stress your brain. we can have an intellectual discussion about this when you return with that Aussie Shiraz ;-)

    August 21st, 2009 at 10:38 am

  14. MB says:

    Absolutely. Fantastic shiraz in batches. But don’t think I’m going to buy into some bullshit ideological claims re: insurer markets, tort reform (seriously, have you be laughed at enough, re: that?), or some silly claims about the harm to small businesses.

    This is serious shit. People die. I have zero inclination to indulge imaginary free markets on the matter.

    August 21st, 2009 at 10:46 am

  15. Amit says:

    its not just about free markets. what is going to happen when some nut like Huckabee or Palin becomes president? They will keep the Terry Schavio’s alive forever and deny care to conditions related to “alternate” lifestyles

    you’re viewing healthcare through rose colored Obama goggles but at most he is going to be president for another 7 years. how much control over your life do you want to hand over to the next Administration?

    and how much negative influence do you think lobbyist groups will have on our care? I’m sure laser eye surgery will eventually be covered at everyone’s expense

    August 21st, 2009 at 12:37 pm

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