March 15, 2010

Health Care and the DMV

I just got back from a quintessential DMV experience (which is not yet over), and I was going to pen a tirade against the abuses inherent to government controlled industries.  Things like lamenting the fact that you can't go to the competition, that the employees are hired based on criteria other than competence, hours not conducive to working people's schedules, etc.

But it got me to thinking: what if the government really did run health care?  Instead of writing on my DMV experience as it happened, then, I am going to relay to you my experience through the lens of government run health care.  Same scenario, different details.

My Recent Experience with the DMV, as Portrayed by Government Health Care

It all started with a tickle in the back of my throat.  I knew I was getting sick, but decided to see if it went away after a couple of days.  It didn't.  I knew what that meant: a trip to the doctor's office.  This would not be pleasant.

My doctor is only open from 8-5 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 9-5 Tuesday and Thursday (with every other Friday off, and all major and minor holidays).  I don't have a general practitioner; I have to see whoever's available when my number is called.

I tried to call in to schedule an appointment, but I couldn't get passed the automated system to a real person.  I was able to leave a message, though; the system said someone would get back to me within 48 business hours.  No big deal; it's not really an appointment you can schedule, but simply access to a faster line.  Since I was feeling pretty poor at this point, I just decided to call in sick in the morning and head in to my local health care centre (mine is the State Urban Care: Kennedy Building).

When I got to the SUCK Building, I parked my car about 300 yards from the entrance and trudged through the snow to the lobby.  Unfortunately, there was a line out the door for quite a ways (it was the 1st of the month, so everyone's monthly service allotment had renewed which made it very busy) which required an additional 20 minutes in the elements.  Needless to say it didn't help my cold, but I knew I would see a doctor soon so I let that pass.

I entered the lobby (finally!) and walked up to the greeter to get a number.  He asked what I was there for, and I explained my symptoms.  After he entered those into the computer (I watched; he really only entered in the first symptom I gave, but I wasn't about to complain), a number was generated to direct me to the proper department in the order I arrived.  I then sat and watched the state news on closed caption (the TV was muted) for the next hour and a half.  At least it keeps your mind off of the hacking, wheezing, crying, and bleeding going on around you.

My number came up on the big screen and I hurried to room number 35.  After presenting my paperwork to the doctor (actually, Clinical Research and Aid Practitioner; no one gets MDs anymore because the pay doesn't cover their schooling expenses), she decided everything was in order and went over my symptoms.  Per the Western Treatment Federation guidelines (all CRAP employees must adhere to WTF guidelines), she garnered a prescription and wrote it on my official health form for that month.  She accidentally filled it in on the wrong spot, so she crossed it out and filled in the proper section.  I wasn't worried about it because they would issue me a new sheet at the Department of Health and Vaccination once I had my prescription filled.

Next stop: the DHV!  Lucky for me it's also located in the SUCK Building, so I didn't have to drive across town or anything.  It was a simple process of waiting in line outside in the snow on the other side of the building for another 20 minutes, showing my paperwork to the greeter over there, and watching the silent news for another hour and a half.

My number was called and I went to the Medical Officer of Rehabilitation Oriented Nutrition at window 13 ("drugs" is now considered an offensive word, so pharmacists are said to deal in "rehabilitation oriented nutrition").  This particular MORON had two signs on their desk, one that read, "Do I look like I care how your day is going?" with a wet cat, and another that said "Customer Service: Take a Number" with a picture of a grenade that had a number attached to the pin.  Our conversation was frequently interrupted by my MORON talking with other MORONs as they passed by.  He advised me that, since I had an entry filled out in the "For Senators, Overseers, and Bureaucrats Only" section, I would have to have the CRAP employee apply for a new prescription sheet and then refill it out.  I tried to protest that I'm obviously not an SOB, so that section was clearly filled out in error, but to no avail.  MORONs generally don't listen to reason.

I went to the other side of the SUCK Building, but my CRAP employee was gone for the day.  I had to come back in two days, they told me.  I trudged back to my car and headed to the store to stock up on tissues and comfort food for the next couple of days; I could tell that my cold had settled in to stay, so I might as well be equipped for the wait.

Two days later and I felt like I'd been hit by a truck.  I was really excited to get back to the SUCK Building and have my paperwork put in order as I now badly needed my antibiotics.  After the same parking, trudging, and waiting antics, I got to see the original CRAP employee who kindly and quickly filled out a form granting permission for me to get a new health sheet, so I went over to the other side of the building, waited for a bit longer, and sat down at the desk of a new MORON who looked it over.

"Everything looks in order," he said, "but we're not giving out new health sheets today."

"What?  Why not?"  I was more than a bit surprised.

"Well," he explained, "today is a furlough day.  No State paperwork can be issued today because the State offices have Friday off."

"Why are you here, then?" I protested.

"We're county employees, so we still come in on State furlough days."  His face showed no sign of humour.  I stared stupidly for a moment with a gaping mouth.  "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

I thought of telling him he could fill my prescription, but knew it was a waste of breath.  I decided I'd have to come back next week.  On the way back to my car, I got an automated call from the DHV telling me that I had now been scheduled for an appointment two days ago.  By Monday, I started feeling better so I decided I'd skip the whole free health care my taxes were paying for and just go to work instead.  As I fought traffic down the dilapidated Obama Expressway (which hadn't seen any tax money for repairs in five years), I thought about how much I missed being able to just pay my copay and get care in return, but I also thanked God I didn't break my leg or have a serious ailment.  Getting off at the Castro Court exit, I decided if I got sick again I'd just deal with it on my own.


  1. The acronyms are brilliant.

    This is your best blog post, yet.


  2. Fantastic! I printed this out to show to a friend (liberal) because he dared to refute my saying that NOTHING government-run, except our men and women in uniform,runs efficiently at all (from FEMA to the IRS to the DMV). Needless to say he got the picture after just completing his taxes to the IRS, a reminder from me of Katrina, and this blog post to jog his memory of how the DMV runs like a well oiled machine.