As ObamaCare comes thundering down the highway above the Rio Bravo, and Death Panels prepare to push poor Aunt Lucy into the lake on a flaming canoe with flowers, I feel it’s appropriate to gloat a little, yet again.
Here’s another example of how we do it down here in the Developing World.
I’ve had some medical issues in the past weeks, and here’s how they played out and what they cost. Read it and weep, as the saying goes.
My father had colon cancer when he was about my age. That, they say, puts me into a higher risk category, so I pay attention to it, though not as much as my old mama would have liked. She’s gone now, so I do as I please.
In 1997, I got a colonoscopy in Houston. Except for the night before when you have to flush your guts, it was a piece of cake. During the procedure, I received the amnesia anesthetic, which is kinda fun. No problem was found.
I had medical insurance through my work, so I have no idea what it cost, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million.
In 2004, after moving south of the border, I decided to repeat the procedure. It had been seven years. An acquaintance who had done it at my hospital in the nearby state capital said she was given full anesthesia.
I did not want to be put to sleep entirely, so I opted for the older procedure of a barium enema, which has a really nice ring to it, no?
The barium enema has a reputation of being kinda grueling. It wasn’t so bad. But, you do have to empty your guts the night before. That’s the yucky part.
Again, no problem found.
Flash forward to now.
Down here you don’t even need a doctor’s order to get a barium enema. You can order it on your own. However, I did see my doctor first. Then I walked next door to the hospital to make an appointment for the next week, which was last week.
I did it early last Wednesday. I was told the results would be ready at 5 p.m.
But I did not pick up the results till yesterday afternoon, just before the appointment with my doctor, who is an internist, a gastroenterologist, a surgeon, a professor at the medical school and a great, soothing guy.
Again, my pipes are clean.
Total cost of the procedure, including meds to empty my intestines the night before and the doctor visit: $188 U.S. bucks. Everything. I paid cash.
* * * *
But that was not the only pipe to get inspected of late. I had an ear problem. I phoned my main man, the doctor mentioned above, for a recommendation of a ear-nose-throat specialist.
Early Monday morning, I phoned the specialist’s office to make an appointment. Can you come at noon? Why, yes, I can.
On arriving, the doctor saw me immediately. No wait at all. He was trained in the military, and there are photos on his office wall of him in uniform. Are you still in the military? I asked. Sí, he replied.
Military medical training here is considered the best in the country.
This specialist and my primary doctor have offices in the annex of the most modern hospital in the state capital, and their equipment is top of the line. This is not burro medicine from an old Pedro Infante film.
The specialist put a thin wand with a light and tiny videocam into both my ears, which, he discovered, needed a good flush. And he did that.
He then stuck the videocam into both nostrils and down my throat, giving me a view on the computer screen at my elbow. Nostrils and throat were good.
I departed with open ears. Total cost of the visit, the procedure, and the ear drops for later: $43 U.S. bucks. I paid cash.
Let me know how ObamaCare plays out for you.
* * * *
(Addendum: Here’s how a barium enema works. You don one of those open-back, butt-revealing shifts everybody dislikes. You lie down on a table beneath a huge X-ray machine like in the TV show House. A tube is stuck in your bunghole. Its tip inflates just inside you, so the tube stays put and slams the portal shut.
About half a gallon of a liquid that resembles soy milk travels from a hanging bag through the tube and fills your guts from the wrong end. You feel bloated.
You’re instructed from the other room to move your body this way and that. Six or so X-rays are taken. I wasn’t really counting. On finishing, the balloon tip’s air is released, and the tube is withdrawn with care.
You step into a bathroom, take a seat, and most of the soy milk escapes. Most.)