Since I had a visit to the E.R. brought by paramedic ambulance last week, I’m experiencing the classic aftereffect symptom: financial panic. I’m tensed for the blow when the bill arrives, prepared for my insurer to deny everything, ready to fight collection agencies and complain to commissioners and end up paying the whole thing outright on my credit card at 14% interest.
The old joke about bleeding heart liberals is that the difference between a liberal and a conservative is a police report. Good point; no one likes getting their ass kicked, and it doesn’t do much for your progressive values to have the pain and fight-or-flight chemicals running.
I’d add another rule, though. The difference between a conservative and a liberal is a hospital admission. Prosperous middle-class Americans who’ve never been seriously ill and have confidence in their medical plans are fooling themselves. They’re all only one illness away from total financial ruin. The insurer will deny claims, the hospital will press them, a collection agency will buy them, and no one will forgive anything. Welcome to Ayn Rand Memorial Medical Center, folks!
My pharmacist is now required by law to counsel me if the prescription is new. This is a fine idea in theory, since physicians don’t know everything about a drug and don’t take the time to discuss it. In practice, it’s a joke. I go to a 24-hour pharmacy in a drugstore chain and it’s understaffed. With my latest, I waited ten minutes before a rumpled and worried Indian man rushed out and said “It is diuretic. Do you have questions?” and then ran off. This is his usual practice.
When I got home I looked at the bottle and there was a sticker on it saying that I should stay out of direct natural or artificial sunlight. Sure enough, looking up the stuff revealed that it increases sensitivity to the sun and that special attention to sunscreen and protective clothing is strongly advised. What if the clerk hadn’t put the sticker on the thing, or I hadn’t looked? People around here have the hobby of lying in the sun.
Requiring professionals to do something vital and then giving them no time to do it doesn’t work. The invisible hand just punched me in the nuts again.