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For 10 days now I've fought a sore throat that's come and gone. Over the weekend I was sure I had it beat, but yesterday afternoon it returned - painfully. This morning I made a doctor's appointment. I don't mind being patient with a virus, but I was starting to worry that I might have strep or some other bacterial infection.
My regular doctor's schedule was full, so I saw one of the other doctors in the clinic. I started off by saying that I had had a sore throat for more than a week and I needed to know whether I was dealing with a virus, allergies, or a bacterial infection. Then I said, "I'm not begging for antibiotics! I know people who beg for antibiotics, but really I just want to know what I have."
He asked lots of questions and did a thorough examination. He thinks it's viral. That's what I wanted to know. I've been jumping back and forth between allergy, antibacterial and antiviral protocols. Now I can focus on antiviral.
Here was the interesting part of the experience. The doctor at one point said, "I think you've been more than patient with this thing. I have people come in, and I ask how long have you had symptoms, and they say two hours." He laughed, "I can't possibly know what they have after such a short amount of time!"
Before I could register surprise, I remembered that the receptionist had asked me about my co-pay. We have medical insurance that pays a percentage of our costs after a stiff deductible. We do not get $5 doctor visits and $10 emergency room visits.
I believe that co-pay has led to people to forget that they are responsible for their own health. Because co-pay gives the illusion that medical care is only a token expense, they rush immediately to a doctor. The doctor, having to deal with an impatient patient and symptoms that are not fully developed writes a prescription for unneeded antibiotics.
This appointment will cost me $50 - $60, but that's ok. I'm glad to know what I'm dealing with. The doctor did write a prescription for antibiotics, but he smiled knowingly as he gave it to me. "Don't fill it for a few days. I really think it's just viral."
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