A week or two back I tweeted the following:
It’s not like I went into the hospital attempting to play devil’s advocate with this broad, but the small talk we were making got a little heated when I decided I felt some type of way about the way she was running her hospital. I’ll give you the transcript of the conversation as I remember it.
Me: Hey, I’m here for a PFT (Pulmonary Function Test).
Clerk: Health Card Please
Me; (Handing paper-copy over) I only have this one because mine is getting replaced.
C: Oh good, you’re switching to a new one?
Me: Well, mine got stolen… (“Make a Little Somethin Out of Nothin,” 27 September 2011)
C: Oh, well did you have the green one or the red & white one?
Me: I had a green one
C: (Happy with this news) Those ones are better
Me: Yeah, but the other ones are good for your whole life though aren’t they?
C: Well yes, but I have a lot of problems with those ones when people use them at the hospital
C: We prefer photo ID. We can prevent fraud that way.
Me: I like the idea of never having to renew the card
C: Well, we had a case last year of three people (immigrants) using the same card to have babies
C: We’re a small hospital. We can’t cover the costs of fraud on a large scale
Me: Well that’s a structural problem then with the system as a whole. There’s no reason why anyone in the world shouldn’t have health-care.
C: (Visibly taken aback) Those people are costing you money by using your health-care that they don’t pay into
Me: I hear ya, its just that I can’t really get too upset about my fellow human beings getting a minimum standard of healthcare
C: Do you have a job? (implying, none too subtly, that she thought I must be a deadbeat as well)
Me: Yes, several
C: And that doesn’t bother you
Me: Not really, people need to get better
C: (Giving up on me) You can wait for your PFT in that lobby over there
Now I don’t mean to unduly paint this clerk as an evil bitch, but when your job is to nickel and dime every patient that comes in its perfectly natural for you to start looking at human beings strictly in quantitative terms. Nothing she was saying was logically wrong, but she was unmoved by basic human compassion which should transcend cold, hard, monetary logic, especially when you work…
IN A FUCKING HOSPITAL!!!
Sorry for shouting. I actually wasn’t mad from this exchange. I rather felt a warm sensation that I had shown this woman a light which she caught only a brief and unsettling glimpse of before she turned away terrified and buried herself in the comfort and familiarity of hospital routine and bureaucracy.
I sat and waited for my PFT. The nurse informed me she was running a little late. “No Problem.” I waited some more. The nurse came out and apologized again and informed me she would be ready for me in five minutes. “It’s Cool, I’ll be here.” Finally, after a half an hour delay I got in for my test. She nurse was very apologetic and although waiting was inconvenient I assured her it was okay.
We did the test, I passed, and as I was leaving she apologized again for the delay:
Nurse: Sorry again for the wait
Me: It’s okay
Nurse: The gentleman before you was older and his breathing was really bad. We had to get him emergency oxygen.
Me: Its really not a problem,
Nurse: (Eyebrow raised) Yeah …most people would be pretty mad
Me: That’s what a hospital is for; to make people better
Nurse: I’m glad you see it that way
I don’t mean to portray myself as some Christ-like figure with a raging hard-on for my fellow man, but I would like to illustrate the difference in perspective between the two ladies I dealt with. One deals with people, the other with money. Not surprisingly, one does not give a shit about sick people (Hint: Its the one who deals with money). With that mindset, why should sick people without insurance/OHIP give a shit about the hospital’s budget? Hence, health-care fraud, one of the many excesses of our competitive monetary-market system. In the world we live in, sometimes fraud, theft and leeching off the system just make good economic sense.
Unfortunately, in Canada, lack of health insurance typically means immigrant/illegal alien, so any dissatisfaction an insured, tax-paying Canadian may have about their lot in life will find a fertile, racially-charged spawning ground to develop into outright racism and xenophobia. Really, its not the aliens people should be mad at, its the system perpetuating the inequality which makes people desperate enough to take what isn’t theirs.
Basically, don’t hate the player, hate the game.
However, before I go into a tangent about how the current paradigm we live in promotes racism and other prejudices, I want to rein it back into the conversation with the hospital clerk. She pointed out that the fraudsters (literally, one who commits fraud) are costing me money. Now this is true, and my apathy toward this point of hers had less to do with the infinitesimally small amount each incident of fraud costs me personally than it did with my knowledge of a very important secret.
The Secret of Why I’m Not Rich.
Now I can’t just up and tell you how I got “not-rich,” or poor as some people call it. To learn that you’ll have to attend one of my seminars or purchase my series of cassette-tapes. But I can give you a few hints:
First off, I didn’t get poor from rampant health-care fraud, as the hospital clerk would have had me believe. The income I may ultimately lose out on due to fraud is so negligible that I don’t factor it into my monthly costs (hopefully you caught my facetiousness here).
It’s not a drug addiction, past or present, either. Future? … we’ll see.
It’s not cause of the terrorists.
Its not from laziness; I work full-time and then some.
Its not from lack of ambition; I have plans, and I tend to set out in earnest for whatever I want.
Its not the people on welfare who keep me poor either.
Its not my extravagant lifestyle. I don’t own a car and my biggest monthly expense is groceries.
Its not unions driving up the price of goods and services which keeps my wallet light, nor is it my job being outsourced to China or India.
Its really not even taxes that keep me poor; they’re just inconvenient sometimes.
It’s not interest on debts either, although I can see how that would be a problem for many.
Its not cause of immigrants.
Its not cause of ponzie schemes, recessions or bailouts.
Nor is it legislation which widens the socio-economic divide.
Its not the government freely spending my tax dollars. In fact, being an army-fag, a large part of that spending (Defence) goes back to me directly or indirectly.
So what is it then? Like I said, I can’t tell you. But I think you might have a hunch even if you don’t know for sure, because its keeping you poor as well. Next time you get frustrated with something or someone’s adverse effect on your financial well-being/lifestyle ask yourself if that thing or person is really the problem. They are probably no less of a pawn than you are in a much bigger game, driven to seek out their best interests, necessarily at the expense of yours because that’s the rules of this game.