So, I went for an eye test yesterday after realising that my prescription had run out (well, for a start I didn’t realise it actually had a date on it!) and I couldn’t get anymore contact lenses without a test.
I checked with our health insurance and found an eye doctor to sort it all out – of course, I had to choose one that was covered by my insurance and after checking a few reviews found one that looked decent enough. Appointment made I turned up and checked in.
Here’s the first problem whenever I go for something medical over here, the fact my insurance card is issued by a British company – it confuses the hell out of the people on reception because it’s not one of the usual plans they see. Cue Rachel waiting 30 minutes for them to sort it out, usually by calling the insurers to see what the deal is before saying ‘yes, Ms Richter (just about always pronounced wrong!) everything is fine.’ Phew because I really have no clue what I am doing and anything about US healthcare, or my insurance plan for that matter to try to help them out! I often look at them with a blank look on my face – especially when they mention things like co-pays and the like! I have no idea what they’re talking about – they could tell me I needed to pay $1 million and I’d probably believe them!
Drama one over, off I went to take my contact lenses out and get these blind eyes of mine checked. The optician came in, nice fella, did the test with all the which looks better, read the bottom line, blah, blah, blah and came to the conclusion that my eyes have stayed the same. That’s good, at least they haven’t got any worse – they’re bad enough!
Then came the checking out…turns out I have a $300 allowance with my insurance – sounds good right? Yeah, until they tell you the actual eye test costs $245!!!!! I nearly passed out with shock! 245 dollars!!! I still can’t believe it now! Especially when I saw an advert in Costco for a contact lens check and that cost just $99! I thought that was bad enough but 245 bucks is just unbelievable! I have no idea how they can charge that much for about 20 minutes with the actual optician! And he didn’t put any of the yellow drops I usually have in my eyes at an eye test or blow air into them, I’m sure what he did was perfectly fine, in fact it was, he’s a professional, he knows what he’s doing, I just don’t think it warranted a $245 price tag!
Back in the UK I used to trot into the doctors, opticians, anywhere medical and get something done without having to pay a penny (well apart from the National Insurance tax from my pay check but still, that is nothing compared to the $245 for an eye test!) and now we get bills for months if we take a trip to the doctors and I’m not just talking about a bill for the appointment…nope. You get that one, followed by a bill for the urine test you had, another for the blood tests, another for the tests that took place in a lab, not forgetting the bill to get rid of the rubbish (yes, they actually charge you for that!) – they seem to be never-ending and they all come with a good price tag! There is one bonus though – you know exactly how much things cost!
Oh and we can’t forget the pre-existing conditions, yep, if you’ve already had problems when signing up for an insurance plan, the insurers don’t cover you for that problem because it’s a pre-existing condition. Well that’s helpful isn’t it? Cue the millions of bills through the letterbox! Also, when we signed up for our insurance plan we decided to put maternity cover on there, not because we are planning a baby anytime soon (don’t get excited Ma Cook, you won’t be a grandma just yet!) but for ‘just in case’ knowing that if something did happen it would of course come with a nice big price tag in the thousands of dollars range. But, when the insurance policy arrived, it turned out the maternity cover didn’t kick in for a year anyway! Useful.
The system here in America is fine if you’re rich and can afford a top of the range healthcare package that covers your every need, but if you’re poor you’re basically screwed. Millions of American’s don’t even have insurance because they can’t afford the monthly premiums. In some cases, even those that do have health insurance are hit with huge bills because their plan doesn’t cover the treatments, you often see stories in the news about fundraisers to help pay for healthcare for a child who had a bad accident, or hear of people who are in danger of losing their house because their healthcare bills are so high. You shouldn’t have to live in fear like that – healthcare should be a human right, everybody should be entitled to it, no matter what it’s cost. Can you tell I’m all for Obama Care?!
Basically, what I’m saying here is I miss the NHS. People moan about it back home in the UK, about the fact you have to wait for weeks for an appointment, some reckon the level of care isn’t good enough but I for one think it is amazing. We should be proud of the fact that everybody, no matter how much money they earn or don’t earn, what social standing they have or the state of health they’re already in, gets access to high quality medical care without having to shell out thousands of pounds. It’s a service that is the envy of countries around the world and we’re the ones lucky enough to be able to use it, we shouldn’t moan, we should embrace it and not take it for granted, because if it was suddenly ripped from under our feet, believe me, we’d know about it.