So I went to VA1 this morning. Now I had no appointment (my pain only became unmanageable in the last week) so I had to go through the walk-in clinic. My preferred clinic is Women Health and their walk in hours are only on Mondays and Thursdays so when I got there at 11:20 today I was totally prepared to wait. And I did. For about 25 minutes. I spent the time explaining computers to a very nice fellow vet with a brand new Gateway and no clue how to use it. Eventually a nurse came to get me. She checked my vitals, asked for my primary complaint, and asked all the standard questions about the rest of my health. I explained my problem and she got me set up with the Nurse Practitioner. She kept me waiting for a few more minutes while she read through my electronic medical records and familiarized herself with my case.
There was some more discussion of my complaint and an exam and then the NP set me up with a laundry list of appointments (a full physical, my next mammogram, physical therapy, podiatry, and an orthopedic consult) and I did spend some time in there getting a lecture on my lifestyle and my arthritis. Because she wanted to impress upon me that my condition is progressive and my tendency to overwork myself is a bad idea. Those of you picturing a frustrated medical professional contemplating hitting me with a hammer? That picture is pretty close to correct. Bonus points if you imagined me edging toward the door blathering about the errands I needed to run. She finished her lecture and prescribed me a drug with a name like a Transformer before sending me downstairs to make sure that my prescription coverage eligibility was in the system.
I stopped at the pharmacy to get a number before I went to the eligibility desk. That took longer than expected (20 minutes) so by the time I got back to the pharmacy I had to get a new number. There was some more waiting to get my med consult (they explain the dosage instructions and all the possible side effects to you) and get my actual meds. At 1:30 I was on my way. My appointment list is pretty long because I haven’t been seen in over a year, but that’s my fault since I generally don’t go to the doctor unless I’m sick. Now I’m home again, I’ve taken the medication and for the first time in several days I am feeling no pain. Total cost? 0 dollars. That was government run healthcare from start to finish. If I wasn’t eligible for the prescription coverage? My medication would have been $8 for a 90 day supply.
If you’re thinking that I earned this because I was in the Army? Nice sentiment, but completely and totally ridiculous. I paid taxes before I was ever in the Army, and really no one should have to spend days in pain with no hope of affording treatment. Now, near as I can tell the medicine I was prescribed runs right around $1 per pill for a 90 day supply. Not insanely expensive, but not cheap either. And I’m sure there are people out there with osteoarthritis that are struggling to afford the pills, never mind trips to a podiatrist, physical therapy, or consulting with a orthopedic specialist. I want people in pain to have access to the exact same treatment I enjoyed today. My tax dollars are in the same pool as everyone else’s and if I can benefit from yours? I want you to benefit from mine.
- Veterans Affairs Hospital. I am a service connected disabled veteran of the US Army and as such I am entitled to healthcare through this government agency. This is a good thing because most private insurance won’t touch me. I have the dreaded pre-existing condition of osteoarthritis along with some other chronic health issues [↩]