When you fly on an airplane, it is possible to be removed from your flight for no reason (especially when a flight is overbooked). Hotel reservations may not always come through with the “suite” you thought you had reserved. Hell, I even had a cruise cancelled because the ship had been “chartered,” by someone clearly with enough money to make my anniversary cruise irrelevant. The truth is, these are all examples of “privileges.” The companies are private, they can do whatever they want, whether the optics result in bad PR. We have no rights when it comes to things we do.
Health care is treated that way also, and it should not. Health care for the last fifty plus years has been treated as a privilege, in spite of advocates calling for it to be a human “right.” Whether we refer to ourselves as “Americans” or those who stand behind religion, the majority of people in the United States, if they believe in their tenets of patriotism and faith, MUST believe health care is a right.
Over the years, I have done my share of slamming any entity that does not support health care for all, as a right. My favorite targets have been politicians and insurance companies. To be clear, the health system is not perfect either, especially when they do not make it accessible. And I am not just talking about a “denial” of service.
It is no secret, I have cardiac issues related to my cancer treatments thirty plus years ago. So, I see a cardiologist once every year. My appointment is made upon my departure from the current appointment. Bottom line, I expect to see my doctor the following year.
Things can happen. A family emergency. An illness. In the case of my first ever cardiologist (I have had several over the last thirteen years), they might even leave their practice. So, I can understand if something has to be changed, even with a year’s notice given.
The timeline. Appointment made in October of 2020 for October 20201. Robo call received on a Friday, confirming Tuesday morning appointment. Monday evening, received call from cardiologist office, appointment needs to be changed.
Ok. No problem. Like I said, things come up. I have no issue with that. I am totally understanding. I do not even care why. I just need to get it rescheduled.
“The next available we have is in January,” the scheduling person stated matter-of-factly and calmly.
I responded, “excuse me?” because I really doubted what I had heard. She repeated the next availability again.
I said, “but you guys are cancelling the appointment. Why am I being penalized with the next appointment three months away instead of being booked upon the doctors return from his two week leave? At least squeeze me in somewhere…it is just a follow up for crying out loud.”
“I can get you to see his PA (physician assistant) at the end of the month.” I have already expressed my objections, no disrespect to PA’s all around the globe, to seeing a PA. Doctors do not understand my particular medical issues, yet, I am to be scheduled with someone holding just a masters degree in medicine? Complicating this, I do live in a high tourist area of Florida, and within the next week, “snow bird”, travelers from up north will arrive for the winter, bogging down our health systems down here, extending times to see a doctor, ESPECIALLY A SPECIALIST.
But it makes me wonder, I remember a time, when you needed to see a doctor, whether it was primary care, or an orthopedist, or a cardiologist, you got in, fairly quickly, at the most, perhaps a two week wait when it came to a specialist. Given that the cardiac system is a crucial part of the body to care for, what is the logic, of rescheduling someone, with known cardiac issues, who was last seen a year prior, of pushing off that patient another three months instead of perhaps three weeks later?
I am open for answers. Is it something corporate? Are doctors limited, seeing only a certain number of patients, regardless of need? Have the doctors been removed totally from the scheduling process, with a pen pusher sitting by a phone, making the determination when a patient sees their doctor?
As I said in the beginning, it is one thing for services such as flying, travel, dining out, and such to make decisions that negatively impact customers. As private entities, that is their right to do so. That is their “privilege.” But health care is not a privilege. Patients needing care have rights, or at least we should. And the number one right, should be that to be seen in a timely fashion, even if it means squeezing someone in.