So as we face “Universal Healthcare” which is just a nice way of saying Socialist Medicine, I am giving a Public Service Announcement to the masses to assure you this was an absolute mistake on part of the voters. The US Military runs off of a healthcare system called TriCare. TriCare operates federally under the US Department of Defense Military Health System (the federal government). I laugh when people say military healthcare is free. Ha! We pay taxes, firstly, just like every other working person, except we sign away the majority of our personal freedoms and then are upheld to not just civilian law, but the UCMJ. Secondly, we don’t have a choice. You know, the power to make your own medical decisions? And finally, the amount of pain, strife, and poor care involved in government managed healthcare is a price greater than the premium of a private PPO. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
- If you’re sick, good luck. You won’t be accepted at an urgent care facility with TriCare, because they don’t want to deal with the bureaucracy, so you don’t need to waste your time on that endeavor. There are no walk-ins and no last-minute appointments at most government facilities anymore. However, TriCare’s random call center can make an appointment for you with a random physician with whom you have zero history, zero rapport and who has no idea of your medical needs, and you can get booked for an appointment in about 4 weeks. If it’s a medical emergency, call an ambulance.
- If you are a woman, and need your annual pap smear and physical, you will be shuffled to a general practitioner, usually an internist. No they’re not gynecologists, but Big Brother knows what’s best for you. If you need a specialist (TriCare considers OB/GYN’s “specialists,” by the way), you can make another appointment to visit again in a month, and request a referral from yet another general practitioner. That physician’s staff members will try to assure you that you don’t need to see a GYN, after all, they know enough about women’s health to handle your issues. STAND STRONG! Be your own advocate! After another hour of waiting you’ll finally meet the new physician, and retell your entire medical history. That physician will enter the referral into the “system” and that referral will be available to TriCare in 48 hours. You can then call the general 800 number that will place you in a call center. Once you identify yourself as the sponsoring member, you can obtain an appointment for that unknown “specialist” who is located approximately 40 miles away from your home, who also has no idea about any of your history. Your appointment will be set for a month from the date of your phone call.
- When doctors don’t need to compete for patients, they, just as in any job, get complacent. This leads to poor diagnoses, lacking diagnostics, and an overall degraded level of medical care. My advice? Get a second…then a third opinion. Don’t stop there. Get a fourth.
- Government physicians (not all, but many of whom I’ve come into contact) use patients as guinea pigs. I have been the unwilling and personal recipient of an unnecessary SPINAL TAP. Ever had one of those?? Sucks. I went in for a severe migraine, and before any urine or blood samples were taken, I was strapped down and forced into a spinal tap by two physicians and their despondent nurses. I suffered from spinal tap headaches for over a week following that visit. The cause of my original headache came out in a blood test: I was deficient in a few vital nutrients. Too bad they didn’t check the blood sample first before sucking out my spinal fluid. Second Guinea Pig experience? I was, at the age of 32, given a dosage shot of Guardasil, which was “not FDA approved for women of (my) age group, but we’re sure you’ll be fine.” A month later, I had my very first abnormal pap, which resulted in my receiving my very first colposcopy. I was consoled, however, by the nurse practitioner who said, “Well, if you have developed cancer from this, the military will take care of you for life.” This segue leads to number 5: cancer and federal medicine.
- Three times now I have heard the term cancer. Now I’m not a doctor, but I would like to think that there is some sort of ethical understanding within the profession that you don’t throw around that word to patients without absolute certainty. In one instance, I was told I had throat cancer and I lost about 10 pounds in a week from the stress. I was terrified; I called my mother, desperate to figure out how to tell my children and wondering if I’d lose my hair, my voice, or my life. It took three more appointments with three other doctors before I was finally referred out to a (thank GOD!) CIVILIAN physician. It took three months to get the referral approved to see that specialist (see #2 – same process applies for ENTs). I did not, by the way, have cancer; but I found out that I had been misdiagnosed by the government physicians for two years, and had such severe reflux that I had ulcers all down my esophagus, and had destroyed my vocal cords. Did I mention I’d been a professional singer? Career ended (see #3 – get multiple opinions); I learned the hard way that you can’t accept the advice of a government doctor no matter what they insist (“You’re fine! You just have laryngitis!”)
I’m sure you get the point. Sure, something might be better than nothing. For many without insurance, this something seems to be an improvement to their situation. But OCare, to me, is just the beginning of mediocre, socialist healthcare. I would get a second job to pay for private insurance before I’d participate in this again.