Perhaps I should try a sangoma. Does anyone know if they really work? Because I just can’t stomach Western doctors anymore.
Yes, I’m white. No, I’m not a cancer patient who’s been chemo-blasted and pill-popped to within an inch of my sanity. I’m not sick – just sick of the private health care system in this country.
Earlier this year, I decided that I had better become proactive about my health. I had a minor growth that needed removal (I won’t bore you with the details – they’re pretty unpleasant and you might be eating) and have never been to a gynae in all my life. So I made some appointments. After all, I had recently joined a “great” medical aid and was told that they cover medical stuff.
So, off I went to see the doctors.
I saw three. The experience with each was identical:
First, you realise that arriving punctually was pointless. Doctors are like self-important celebrities who make their adoring fans WAIT to be graced with their presence. Expect to wait at least an hour. Take your copy of Game of Thrones or a book of similar size – the reading material presented in the waiting room will be of an embarrassing standard. Think gardening magazines from the 90s and promotional pamphlets for Valoid.
You might think that the doctor is just running late because of patients – until your own hour-long wait is rewarded with a grand total of 10 whole minutes in the holy presence of the White Coat himself.
During these 10 minutes, the following will happen:
Minute 1 – 2: Fake small talk about what you do and who you are. You can see the White Coat’s eyes glistening over with disinterest as he dutifully nods his head and thinks about the next level of Candy Crush.
Minute 2 – 4: Asking why you had come that day, what pills you’re currently swallowing and if you’re currently having sex.
Minute 4 – 8: Rudimentary physical examination. Your blood pressure is always checked.
Minute 8 – 10: You get a prescription/referral for something/someone the doctor has a kick-back in place with, and are sent on your way.
Now, this is what irritates me:
1. Why do I need to go to a doctor for prescription medication I know I need? Prime example here: The Pill. Yes, yes – I know that there are different strengths and varieties and that certain types are better suited to certain types of women. But answer me this – has your GP EVER done a super in-depth examination of you before writing a prescription? No? Neither has mine. I pretty much have to simply ASK for what I need, and I am given the script. I then pay about R300 for this piece of paper and another R200 for the actual medication.
2. Why do doctors get to charge a flat fee for consultations when the rest of us can only charge for our actual time or actual work done? Think about it – every other service provider you deal with works based on RESULT, input or time. Doctors are the only ones who shamelessly charge a ridiculous “consultation fee” for 10 minutes of telling you what you already knew. In my case, I had to fork out around R2 000 for pathetic and ultimately unnecessary consultations with 2 specialists I was referred to.
3. What on earth is the point of medical aid? Perhaps I’m missing something, but I thought it was to PAY for medical expenses. I suppose not. Regarding the excision of my yucky growth, I was told that the Medical Aid will pay only 125% of “medical aid rates”. This sounded pretty okay, until I was informed that my doctor – and, it seems, all doctors – charge 300% of this rate. What does this mean? It means that I still have the growth. It means that I can’t afford to get rid of it. And it sucks that I wasn’t told about EXACTLY what my “fully comprehensive” plan would cover before I blew thousands of Rands (no, I could not claim it back) on seeing the specialist in the first place.
4. Why do admin people in the medical field have to be so damn smug? Is it just me, or do the tannies at reception get a special thrill out of telling you to hand over your credit card. Their favourite line? You can claim it back from medical aid. Lies, I tell you, lies!
In a nutshell, private health care in this country combines bad service, bad policies and bad taste.
I guess I could go wait in line at the State hospital, but then I might catch Syphilis and die.*
So – I ask again: Anyone know a sangoma I can use?
*Just being facetious. I know how syphilis spreads and that I’m more likely to pick up something else but equally horrible at Helen Joseph.
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