My Health-Care Story: Paging Dr. Popular
By Adam Ross
If my primary-care physician was in high school, he’d be voted prom king.
I called his office last week hoping to set up an appointment for a physical and to get something that had been worrying me checked out. I was told I could be seen sometime in January.
“Will that be okay?” the receptionist asked.
“Um, not exactly,” I said. “How can that be?”
“He’s quite popular,” she said. “But let me see what I can do.”
She fiddled with her computer for about 12 seconds (I timed her), then gleefully told me, as though she had just parted the Red Sea, that she could “sneak” me in on Dec. 28.
It didn’t seem to occur to her that she wasn’t being much help. Instead, she asked me if I would be around then, given that the appointment fell during the holiday traveling season.
I told the receptionist “thanks, but no thanks,” and was left wondering how in the world it could be ethical for my doctor to have so many patients. But I couldn’t get too angry, because when it comes to health care, everyone has a story, and most of them are much worse than mine. Now I’ll start the arduous process of finding a new doctor. This will be the fourth or fifth primary care physician I’ve had in as many years.
I’m usually forced to find a new doctor, either because I have to switch insurance companies due to the cost or because my doctor stops accepting my coverage. Whatever the reason, unless I strike it rich and get one of those “Cadillac” plans, I’m going to have to take my medicine the same way I take my sports. There are going to be some good years and some bad years, and the results are completely out of my control.
But at least, in this instance, I’m not stuck cursing Congress for the partisan bickering that has held up health-care reform for so many years. I can just curse my doctor for being too cool for school.
The writer is a washingtonpost.com producer.
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