I can't remember going to the doctor when I was young, except to get my ear pierced. It's not that I dislike doctors, I just have very rarely had decent medical insurance, and it semed like more of a hassle to go to one than to just stay home. Sometimes, though, the garlic/spinach/eye-of-newt concoctions I whip up at home just can't crack the problem, and so off to the doctor I go.
This was my first time using the socialized medicine that the Military so graciously offers its active duty and their dependents. I called up at 7am, said I'd like to see a doctor. "Ms. Preston, how does 8:40am today sound?" Sounds like good service to me. Within an hour I was out, on my way to get my prescription (in the same building). I asked the pharmacist how much I owed him for the little brown bag, and he says "surely, Ms. Preston, you must be new. Your medical care is our first priority, it's all on the house!" Imagine that. Medicine that is timely, free and doesn't drag a sick person through the mud in order to just get in her car, drive home and go back to bed.
Okay, I left one little part out. When I was waiting for the MD to come in the little room, a "tech" (not a nurse, but a very early 20's young lad) had to run down a list of my medical history with me. Typical questions:
Q: Are you a smoker?
A: Not for a year now. (yay!)
Q: Do you drink coffee?
A: Not for about 5 months now. (another yay!)
Q: Do you drink alcohol.
A. That would be a yes.
Q: How many drinks would you say you have a week?
A: (let's see, one while making dinner, one while eating dinner, a few at the club, a beer at the beach....boy am I glad I quit drinking for New Years) "I'd say ten. About ten."
Q: I'm going to go ahead and put down 3. 3 is a much more acceptable Air Force Number.
Excuse me? Acceptable Air Force number? What exactly does that mean? I have visions of being summoned to AA meetings by John's commander. Who exactly sees these records anyway? Does HIIPA even apply? What about doctor-patient confidentiality? Who is this kid anyway, he doesn't even look old enough to work here. Is there a camera in this room? I start to glance around. What if my illness is directly related to the number of alcoholic beverages I consume weekly, and because you are trying to shield me from Big Brother, the doctor might never find the cure for me. This is how episodes of House begin.
All in all, I'd give socialized medicine an 8 out of 10. Especially when I think of the various times in my life when I did not have insurance. Yes, the Big Brother aspect of it creeps me out. But it's better than sitting at home sipping that stinky garlic tea waiting for my immune system to kick in.