Thursday, April 23, 2009

Comparing health care systems

Another amazing sunrise over the harbour this morning. Although we're well into fall here, the weather is still great with temps in the 50s and only a few spots of wind and rain. Love it!

Yesterday I had my first experience with the NZ health care system.

First, a refresher on my medical experiences in US:
  • Leave work early to make it to an appointment
  • Spend 30 minutes in waiting room
  • Fill out 100-question form, even though I've been a patient there for five years
  • Fill out another hippa form
  • Nurse comes in carrying my big fat paper record
  • Doctor rushes in, asks three questions, gives me a quick look up and down, scribbles out a script and is outta there
  • Pay $25 copay
  • Pay $300/year for prescription
  • Pay $900/year insurance premiums
Yesterday's doctor visit in NZ
  • No need to leave work early -- they offer after-hour appointments for, get this, a $3 fee
  • They forget to charge me the fee anyway
  • Fill out three questions on a form
  • Wait five minutes
  • Pay $25 fee for visit ($US)
  • Pay $3/year for prescription ($US)
  • Pay $0 for insurance premium -- we're eligible for NZ's public health care system
I made my appointment for 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday night. That in itself was amazing to me. After five minutes in the waiting room, my doctor comes to greet me. We sit down in chairs (not an exam table) while we chit chat about the neighborhood, since this office is two minutes from my house.

She asks about my medical history, etc., and she takes a few notes on her computer. We talk pros and cons of a certain medicine, then she grabs me three months' worth of free samples. I'm pretty excited because she just handed me what is worth $75 back home, but I learn here, a year's worth costs only $3 USD! Instead of rushing me out of the office, she took the time to discuss the differences in US and NZ medical practices. I spent maybe 20-25 minutes in her office.
To be fair, they didn't have the exact medication I wanted, but a very close version of the same thing. Not ideal, but close enough for me.

Overall, everyone was relaxed and working at a normal pace. I'm sure a lot of this has to do with the smaller population, but I sure noticed a huge difference in the stress levels of those I encountered. Reminds me of one of our favourite movies...

Spies Like Us with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd

No comments: