The health care system is broken. I am 100% for utilizing primary care physicians, lowering health care costs, and reducing unnecessary testing. But my patience has finally come to its end.
I would rather go to the emergency room than see my primary care physician. And I’m not the only one. ERs are packed with non-urgent patients that primary care physicians should see. And I’m tempted to be one of them.
My circumstances up to this point:
- The primary care shortage means the earliest I can see my physician is in 2 weeks.
- I could be better, or far worse, in 2 weeks time.
- And yes, 2 weeks. Recently I called a series of offices trying to find an appointment with a different doctor sooner than 2 weeks.
- If I want to see the physician sooner, I can call every early afternoon leading up to the appointment and hope I can jump in for a last minute cancellation.
- And I have to have the job flexibility leave work at late notice in the middle of the day for an appointment.
- If my primary care physician orders tests, due to insurance I have to travel to another location to get these tests done.
- This extends the time I’m out of the office or even delays me from taking the tests because I have to set up another appointment at a new location to get the tests done.
- When my primary care physician refers me to a specialist it increases my wait time for resolving my health problems.
- This extends my time of being unwell. I went through 3 appointments with my primary care physician, and now I’m referred to a specialist who can’t see me for 3 weeks. By now I’ve had an issue for a month and I have to wait 3 more weeks to see a specialist. This is 7 weeks of my life being disrupted by an illness without any remedy or therapy.
But if I waited at the emergency room:
- I would be able to see a health care team in a few hours when I’m not at work.
- All my tests would be done in the same location.
- I could see a specialist right away.
- I would be diagnosed and on a treatment course to being healthy in less than a day.
But I’m not an urgent patient. My appendix isn’t about to erupt. I didn’t break my leg and have a bone sticking out. But I also don’t want to wait to be cured.
So what should I do next? I’m not sure. But right now I’m tempted to join the crowd and be one of the thousands waiting in a hospital, hoping for a cure today instead of an appointment in 2 weeks.