Four hours of US health care

On the next day we arrived to California, I got an eye infection. Thus, I got to test my health insurance immediately. The insurance worked perfectly, Urgent Care not so urgently.

It took me four hours of waiting in order to se e a doctor for five minutes. My trip to see a doctor taught me something about how the local medical system works. I learned that most of the health care centres are basically owned by private sector. Despite this fact, many of the organizations called ‘urgent care’ operate just like the public health care in Finland.

I learned that in order for you to make an appointment directly with a doctor, you need to book a double time, if you a first time patient. So if you are a first timer, and want to visit a doctor in urgent matters, it is almost impossible to book a direct appointment with a doctor (this due to the fact that there are no double times available for the same day). This means that you need to check yourself into the queue in a counter for ‘urgent care’, and wait for your turn.

In my case, there were seven patients before me, and only one doctor to treat them. Emergency patients – there happened to be two of them during my waiting time – were treated without queuing.

What surprised me most was that before I got to meet a doctor, I was called in by a nurse. She measured my weight and hight, and took me into a room. She took my blood pressure, and asked me a few personal questions (of which some seemed quite irrelevant), and then she asked me to explain why did I come to see a doctor. (At this point I still thought she was the doctor). Then the nurse told me that the doctor will be attending to me in just 5 to 10 minutes and left me sitting in the room.

The doctor came, and asked me exactly the same questions as the nurse had asked ten minutes ago. Then she took a look at my eye and wrote me a prescription to an ointment, which I needed to fetch from an assigned pharmacy. Everything was over in five minutes.

I hopped in an Uber, had a chat with the driver, who had many opinions about the US health care, about medical insurance, about doctors’ salaries and their expertise.

After visiting Target, where you put your shopping cart in a separate escalator designed specifically to take the carts up, and after buying bagels and Philadelphia cheese for breakfast I felt like I had experienced much of America in one day.

Let the journey begin.