Today, I am thankful… to be uninsured in a country where health care isn’t a cluster

For the last two-and-a-half days, I’ve been running a fever of between 100.3 and 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit. This has been accompanied by dizziness, headache, sensitivity to light, pain behind my eyes and graphic gastrointestinal problems.

Today, I decided enough was enough (and complied with the wishes of people back home) and began to hunt for a doctor. A friend, Poh Si, recommended a GP, Dr. Gita Prakash.

Around 5 p.m., I called “Dr. Gita,” as she is known, on her cell phone, she picked up, and she told me to come by at 6:30 p.m.

Think about that statement for just a second.

I called a doctor’s cell phone; she herself answered; she agreed to see me almost immediately; and the appointment was set for the evening.

Who in the states, save the hyper-rich and powerful, has that kind of access?

I only had to wait for one patient ahead of me and then Dr. Gita gave me a quick check-up — mouth, eyes, ears, temp, breathing, blood pressure, poking, prodding, etc.

There’s a long shot I have mild dengue fever (I’m missing the telltale rash), but Dr. Gita thinks I probably have a simple gut infection and my body’s answer is to go nuclear. With medicine, we’ll know in a day or two.

Twenty minutes later, I had a prescription for a course of three drugs, electrolyte solution and a multivitamin. She also ordered at least three more days of bed rest and a light diet (bhat, chapati, yogurt). The guys at the hotel have already demonstrated their mean prowess at the garlic, butter chapati.

The cost of the visit, 200 rupees, or $4.44. And the scrip, filled on my way home: 388 rupees, or $8.62.

So, as everyone back home celebrates Thanksgiving, I count my lucky stars that, when I had to be uninsured, I am at least in a country where health care is relatively cheap, easy to access (at least in cities) and not a giant cluster of corporate, political, populist and ignorant interests.

I’m not saying India is perfect — there are disparities, the system obviously doesn’t reach the poorest rural citizens, major operations can still be breaking for even the lower-middle class  – but in this case, it beats the pants off of home.

The only downside: Dr. Gita wants me to have nothing to do with chicken tikka rolls for a week. Baby, we’re on a break.

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One Response to “Today, I am thankful… to be uninsured in a country where health care isn’t a cluster”

  1. Royal Says:
    November 26th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    That’s incredible. As in, it’s something I almost don’t believe. Maybe Dr. Gita can move to St. Louis.

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