health service, a message to Obama and to the people everywhere

May 21st, 2009 by Romeo Anghelache

A few weeks ago a little particle of dust managed to enter under one of my eyelids and got stuck there (I was just walking home on a quiet sidewalk). I couldn’t get it out by splashing water onto my eyes, so, after waiting 4 hours maybe it gets out washed by tears, I went to emergency.

5 people handled me there:
1. a screener: she asked me to read some letters from a panel and asked for my health insurance card, she typed something on a computer; (10 minutes)
2. a second screener: he asked me if I do drugs, if I drink, etc., he typed that on a computer
(5 minutes)
then I moved in a room
3. a person came and wrapped a tape with my name on it around one of my arms (10 minutes)
4. a medicine student came and asked me what the screener nr. 1 asked, also asked what I am there for (5 minutes) and put some drops onto my eye to lighten the pain.
5. then the doctor came, asked what persons 4 and 1 asked, asked me what’s the problem, then fitted my face in a device to check my eyeball for damage (5 minutes), after that she joked “now we’ll get barbarian” and turned part of my eyelid inside-out and then used a cotton swab to pick the particle (30 seconds) and then gave me two very little containers with some antibiotic and some thick stuff to put on my eye just in case, didn’t use them.

So I was done, overall it took 50 minutes + 5 persons.
Everything was professionally done, it made me think some robots could be substituted for each of them, and then I understood that I had a cotton swab at home too and I could have used it if I wouldn’t be such an urban imbecile (imbecile because my peasant grandmother would have removed it in 30 seconds with a cloth while, that day, it didn’t cross my mind to use a cotton swab and it would have taken probably 5 minutes to dig in google’s results which are swamped with ads, and a call to the personal doctor would get you an appointment two weeks later and another bill).

Today, I got the bill: I have to pay 35 dollars, OK, that was light.
but guess what, the total charges for removing the dust particle were….were…1.430,00 USDollars, can you see that number? one thousand four hundred and thirty dollars.

1.430,00 US dollars.

Lucky me I had health insurance. So it took 300 dollars per 10 minutes of each person, or maybe 200 dollars, and the rest was used to pay the loan for the cotton swab.

That really shows the crux of what the world has become under the self-regulated capitalism: removing a dust particle from under the eyelid costs an average monthly wage. In a sane society I would have had a public digital library where I could find out how to remove it myself, at no cost per incident. No, Google is not a solution, it is a marketing engine not a search engine anymore.

Mr. Obama, is this the health service you’d like to preserve?

People everywhere, is this the model of a society you want to live in or to follow?

And, by the way, here’s how to do it, in case you don’t have 1.430,00 USDollars for the emergency of removing a dust particle fom under the lid, it’s called “everting the upper lid”:

Every medical student should be familiar with
the simple technique of lid eversion. This is performed
by gently grasping the lashes of the
upper lid between finger and thumb and at the
same time placing a glass rod horizontally
across the lid. The eyelid is then gently everted
by drawing the lid margin upwards and forwards.
The manoeuvre is only achieved if the
patient is asked to look down beforehand, and
the everted lid is replaced by asking the patient
to look upwards. If a small foreign body is seen,
it is usually a simple matter to remove it using
a cotton-wool bud.”

from “Common Eye Diseases and their Management” 3rd edition, 2006, by Galloway et al.

In case you can’t do it yourself, get a hundred bucks, walk out in the street and try to bribe somebody into stopping their car, washing their hands and doing it for you.

Oh, and I now remember that we were playing/joking sometimes by everting our eyelids when we were in early school, trying to look scary or stupid.

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