Ever since writing Obamacare Is A Net Positive For America I’ve been sick as a dog. My throat hurt so much I could barely swallow. Because my throat was also swollen, it was hard to breathe and sleep as well. I called my primary care physician on Wednesday to see if he could check my throat for strep and of course he was closed until Thursday. Seriously, why would a doctor’s office be closed on a Wednesday? Perhaps to get his existing patients to enlist in his $1,500 a year Concierge Service! Smart man.
No problem. I went to a newly opened Urgent Care Unit eight blocks away instead. I had no idea such a facility existed until a good friend of mine pointed it out. The Urgent Care Unit saw me right away and my co-pay was only $5 more at $25. The nurse checked me out, took a sample of the back of my throat and ran tests. It turns out I don’t have strep but a viral infection instead. Hurray! The doctor said it’s actually better to have a viral infection for a sore throat because we’ll almost always heal ourselves within 5-7 days. A bacterial infection needs to be treated with antibiotics and could get more complicated.
The doctor prescribed antibiotics and hydrocodone anyway since he said the strep test is only 80% accurate. He’ll run some more tests and let me know whether I should continue with the antibiotics in several days. It’s interesting to note that the doctor didn’t have to send in the prescriptions to my local pharmacy. I could use the print out and get the drugs anywhere I liked. Another plus for going to an Urgent Care facility.
The office clerk mentioned the Urgent Care facility is open every day of the week from 8am-8pm M-F and 9am-4pm S-S. All the doctors are board certified and emergency physician trained. Suddenly, I’m feeling much more secure as a resident and also a little wealthier as a home owner.
WHEN WE ARE YOUNG WE DON’T CARE FOR HEALTH AS MUCH
It’s somewhat surreal to be sick while this whole Affordable Care Act launch and debate is happening. My illness is making me completely biased for Obamacare because I’m in physical pain and I’m willing to pay whatever it costs to get better. I’m sure if the bubonic plague suddenly hit all of the right wing Tea Party members, there would be much less opposition to Obamacare due to more empathy for the uninsured. I just cannot imagine the type of fear the uninsured experience when they get sick. Usually we get better as our bodies heals on its own. But during the moment of intense illness, our resolve is often tested.
As I approach the big 4-0, I’ve become more cognizant of my health. I’ve decided to do physical checkups once a year, eat less, and exercise more. I no longer have the cavalier attitude of not seeing the doctor because I think I’m Wolverine’s cousin. I used to think, “Why see the doctor when I’m sick when he’s just going to tell me to rest, drink lots of water, and take cold medicine?” Now if I don’t feel comfortable, I’m happy to pay the $20-$25 co-pay to get a professional opinion and rest my mind at the very least. It’s always better to catch problems early on than after it’s too late.
The co-pay amount really used to deter me from seeing the doctor when I was in my 20s. Now that I’m older and a little wealthier, I don’t care at all. Each visit to the doctor costs $200-$600 on average so it’s like we’re all getting a deal!
MAKE SURE YOU ASK THE PROXIMITY OF THE BEST HEALTH FACILITIES
When I buy property I’m always inquiring about the parks, restaurants, bars, water, and schools. I never once inquired about whether there are any Emergency Care centers close by, or how far away are the closest hospitals. It just never occurred to me as the last property I purchased was when I was 28. I don’t think many other people inquire as well since the average age to buy a home is between 30-33. At 36, knowing how long it takes to get to a health facility by foot or car is of tantamount importance for me and my family!
As our population continues to age, a home’s proximity to health care facilities will continue to rise in importance for home buyers. I won’t be buying a property if the closest medical facility is more than a 30 minute walk or 15 minute drive away. If you don’t get to an emergency facility within 30 minutes after a heart attack, for example, chances for survival drop dramatically. Just the other month our cruise ship turned back to the port of San Francisco after setting sail for two hours already because a passenger fell ill. I’m not sure if the passenger made it.
Financially, I’m willing to pay a 5% premium for a property which has multiple health care facilities close by instead of just one. If I’m an existing homeowner, I will lobby the community to invite more Emergency Care facilities into our neighborhood if few or none are present. It’s all about just having the peace of mind that just in case something happens, chances are high a professional will take care of you. If I ever sell my properties, I will surely have a line item in the marketing material highlighting all the medical facilities close by.
I highly encourage every single home buyer to prioritize the quality and distance of health care facilities in your new neighborhood. Map out where each facility is so you know which one to go to just in case something happens. You can use a site like Zillow.com to get a list of comparable homes sold after you type in the address. Health only grows in importance and in appreciation the older we get.
Shop around for health insurance: The internet has really helped lower the cost of insuring yourself and your family. eHealthInsurance has some of the lowest rates and best coverage due to its largest network. They are based right here in the Bay Area, and I have met a number of their representatives. The Affordable Care Act debacle has proven to be more expensive and more cumbersome to sign up so far.