Goal: reduce unnecessary medical consultations and lower health care costs.
Method: make every patient pay €10 the first time he visits the doctor every quarter.
I’m not dying or anything. In fact, based on how often I have called in sick in nearly eight years at my full-time job – that would be twice – I am pretty damn healthy, touch wood.
But over the past six months I have had to see not one but two specialists for completely unrelated and – let me stress this, Mom – non-life-threatening conditions.
Last fall, one of the specialists referred me to a third specialist, and because this new guy is really booked out, I couldn’t get an appointment to see him until next month.
So this is where German efficiency kicks in. I’ll try to keep it simple.
Unless you’re insured under a private scheme and therefore get
your ass kissed by everyone the royal treatment, you have to pay €10 the first time you visit your doctor in any quarter. You receive a little receipt with a stamp on it from the doctor to show on arrival at any further medical treatment during that quarter.
Too bad if one appointment is at the end of March, the follow-up the beginning of April. Ten bucks each time.
If you need to see a specialist, your family doctor will write you a referral. So last autumn I took a referral to see one of the specialists, who did some tests, the results of which made him write out another referral to the third specialist.
I phoned the third specialist, but because I couldn’t get an appointment until February, and thus in the new quarter, I had to go back to my doctor to get a new referral. Apparently they die, like mayflies. So I went back to my doctor today to get a new referral. They gave me one, but then they asked me for €10.
Damn. Even though I’d already paid €10 at another specialist’s office this month, and so covered myself for this quarter, I’d left the receipt at home.
No problem, they said. We’ll issue you a bill for €10, and if you come in any time over the next two weeks with the proof you’ve paid the €10, it will be waived. Otherwise you’ll have to pay us €10.
Not wanting to forget the matter, I pedaled home and came back with the receipt within the hour.
Sorry, they tell me. We know this says you paid your €10, and we believe you actually did, but because you also need to give us a referral from the doctor to whom you gave the €10, we can’t accept it.
But he’s an ambislambic bardgimologist specializing in midgemriolic gambiderpodery, I tell them, and has nothing to do with this other problem.
Sorry, we need a referral.
So I take the receipt and, since they’re within a few blocks of one other, pedal over to my family doctor and tell the nurses there the whole story. They issue me a referral.
As I was riding back to the specialist I thought, good thing I’m healthy and can take my bike all over the place to do this shit. What if I were really sick, or old, in a wheelchair, or God forbid forced to jump through hoops behind the wheel of a car? I’d probably just drop 10 bucks whenever anyone asked for it just to avoid the hassle.
The receptionist at the specialist’s office looked at the referral, ripped up the bill, and said it’s all taken care of.
Though I know she was just following procedure, I felt like saying thank you and have a nice fucking day.
© 2008 lettershometoyou