I have had the same General Practitioner for the past 15 or so years. I loved him. I rarely went in because I'm rarely sick, but he's been straight with me every time I've needed him to be. I credit him with me getting my diabetes life back in order.
December 1st his office closed. He has moved into a different kind of care and is no longer going to have an office. I didn't think a whole lot about it because I figured I'd go pick up my records and switch doctors sometime after the new year.
I'm never sick. I've not had more than a cold in almost 3 years. But this weekend I got hit hard. Bronchitis and a fever got me. I knew I needed to see a doctor, so I went into work for long enough to reschedule my appointments at work and started calling around town.
Every single office that I called said the same thing: It would be 1 to 2 weeks for a new patient. I'm sick. I need care now.
On my insurance, my ER co-pay is $75 and the closest walk-in or urgent care clinic is almost an hour away and it was snowing all day. So I opted to call the new doctor in town. I really didn't want to go to him (for reasons I won't discuss online) but I was desperate.
Anyway, I went in and ended up with a shot and some anti-biotics. I'm already feeling better, though still not great. And let me tell you, shots HURT! My hip is still sore. And despite the fact that I have good health insurance, the office requires all new patients to pay $50. I don't pay co-pays. I only pay 20%. But yet I had to pay $50 upfront.
My annoyance with the day, however, is that no one would see me without a wait time of several weeks. I wasn't sick enough to go to the emergency room. I'm not a "doctor hopper". I wasn't wanting pain pills or other narcotics. But everyone said "one to two weeks".
How is that fair to people who are honestly sick? People like me, who's PCP has left town or the office has closed. Or people who are new to an area and haven't had a chance to get a new doctor yet? How is that good medical care?