Friday, April 17, 2020

From a visit, to a hospital

It's been almost a month since India went into lockdown.  I have avoided stepping out, as much as possible.  But the past few days, I've had to go out a bit to prepare for my mom's medical treatment.  Now, this meant that I had to spend some time at a local hospital.

We take all the usual precautions, like using sanitisers, masks etc.  Also, on returning home, we immediately wash our hands with soap, change our clothes and take a bath as well.  We throw the clothes into the washing machine so that my three-year old doesn't touch it accidentally.

When there is a highly contagious disease spreading throughout the city, most people would try to avoid visiting the hospital.  Yet, on my multiple visits to the hospital, I came across a kid who was maybe 7 years old and was spending most of his day at the hospital.  Apparently, his mom worked there as a nurse.  I assumed that she didn't have anyone to help babysit her kid, so, she must've brought him along.

This kid was obviously bored.  He ran around the place for a while.  He playfully fought with the security guard for a while.  He then pestered his mom for some junk food.  He tried sitting in different chairs and benches.

A visitor (not a patient) who was sitting nearby, asked the kid about his father.  The kid replied that his dad was into real estate.  The visitor said "Oh!  Real estate is a big business.  He must be earning well."  For this, the kid casually replied, "Hm..  But he doesn't give us any money.  He spends everything on drinks".

That reply answered a lot of questions.  But it also raised a million more.

We might find a vaccine for corona virus; but there is no vaccine for a man's vices!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

You have to pay the piper!

Here is a hard earned lesson that I'm giving for free - "Get a Health Insurance!"

Apparently, I have been out of touch with the advances in the medical industry.  Gone are the days when you go to a doctor, pay 100 rupees and you are magically cured.  These days, you'll be charged Rs.500 for just consulting with the doctor, for barely 5 minutes.  Five hundred is for a small hospital on the outskirts of the city.  If you travel into the city and if the hospital has a second floor, you'll be charged more, much more.

There are lots of other neat tricks that the hospitals play.  Lets say, you want to meet the chief doctor, then, you'll have to meet a doctor lower in the rank so that they can take your history and note down a bunch of stuff on the paper for the bigger doctor to go through.  Now, you'll be charged double, because you spent five minutes each, with two doctors.  Medical Miracle!  Else, you'll be referred to another doctor by a doctor.  Again, double!  Two specialists visited you?  Double!

It's not just the consultation fee that has gone up.  Patient room is costlier than a star hotel.  I suppose they will be, because most hospitals have a valet parking these days.  The cost of medical treatments are sky-rocketing.

What has happened?  You see, lots of people these days have health insurance.  So, the patients don't care that they are being charged an insane amount of money because the insurance company is going to bear the charges.  The insurance companies are happy because as the charges go up, they can charge a higher premium citing the increase in medical expenses.  Also, more people will take insurance because the treatments are costly.  It's a vicious cycle powered by hospitals and insurance companies and unfortunately, we are caught in the middle.

But do you know who is the real loser in this concept?  The ones who don't have a health insurance.  I spent 5 minutes with a doctor a few days back and paid 600.  Later, I had to go back for a signature (which took 2 minutes) and another 500.  I had to repeat this a couple of times & spent the same amount each time.  I often hear people complaining about IT employees spending a lot of money on fancy dinners but that is nothing compared to what's happening in these hospitals.

Also, there are two popular myths about insurance.
1) People say "Oh, don't worry, I have a life insurance".  That's fine sir, but it's not the same as a health insurance.  Only one of those, will help you stay alive.
2) "Health insurance is useless for people with pre-existing conditions".  Wrong again.  There are clauses in certain insurances for pre-existing conditions.  For example, you'll get paid for any expenses incurred two years after buying the insurance.  Or, if it's a corporate insurance, your claim would go through.  Or, at least half your expenses will be compensated.  There are even certain insurances sold only for people with existing problems.

Once we cross a certain age, we are going to face health problems, that is fact.  Maybe one in hundred might live through life without any major medical treatments.  The rest of us, are going to spend some time in the hospital.  The worst part is, we'll have to spend money when we are retired and living on a pension (if we have one).  So, trust me when I say health insurance is a must.

You have to Pay the Piper!