Thursday, December 12, 2013

chatting with the rooster

Mexpatriate is coming to you live from Rooster's in Melaque this morning.

Our program would have begun earlier, but I have been indulging in one of my favorite early day activities -- chatting.  It is a professional hazard.

I had every intention of writing about several topics (first graders suspended for sexual harassment; my trip to a coffee plantation; Jennifer's birthday; how gringo businesses have succeeded in Melaque).  But all of that paled into journalistic insignificance when I opened my post box.

There were two items.  My latest edition of The Economist.  And a letter from St. Charles Hospital.

Let me tell you about that letter.

The week before Thanksgiving, I had my blood tested at a lab in Bend.  My doctor was interested to receive my triglyceride levels to let me know if I could cut my medication in half.

I spent almost a half hour giving information to the clerk before my blood could be drawn.  When she asked which doctor should receive the report, I told her my doctor was in Mexico.  The report should go to my brother's address in Bend.

Of course, it never showed up.  My brother and I had to drive several miles (almost two weeks after the test) to get the report.  The good news was that I could halve my medication.

Today it showed up in my Mexican postal box.

OK.  I know.  I know.  If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I am going to be riding high.

But it is symptomatic of the crisis the American health care faces.  Costs and processes may all be worthy of reform.  But the greatest problem up north is the distance that has been created between health providers and patients.  And nothing in Obamacare is going to resolve that decline. 

Patients are an afterthought because they are not an economic part of the system.  Someone else is usually the payer.  And the medical system reacts to the needs of the payer, not the ultimate consumer.

So, we end up with labs that have no concern about providing the service requested -- or doctors who are far more concerned about Medicare payments than Medicare patients. 

Both of those are stereotypes.  And I know there are exceptions.  But stereotypes exist for good reasons.

When I returned to Melaque, I simply walked into my doctor's office -- who sat and talked with me for about an hour concerning my trip, how my neighbors and she felt bad about my burglary, how I had been feeling over the last month, and only then did she talk about what she wanted me to do about my health.  If I had needed a lab test, I would have walked over to Beny's office, who would have the report ready for me (and in my hand) the same day.

From my seat at Rooster's, on a 79 degree day at the beach, the Mexican medical system is looking far better to me.

Life is good.


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