Friday, October 31, 2008

Know your healthcare options

Fortunately, there are so many resources available on the web these days, you really don’t need a doctor.

Say you’ve got a stomach ache. Google it. Thousands of of websites dealing with stomach aches will come up. After hours of research and cross referencing, you’ll probably conclude you either have indigestion or cancer. Google indigestion and cancer. Read everything you can about their symptoms and cures. Delve into the heartwarming stories about indigestion and cancer. Learn which celebrities have had indigestion and cancer. Find out who their hairstylists are. Chances are by the time you’ve thoroughly researched the topic, your stomach ache will be gone.

But if the ailment persists through the diagnostic process, or worsens, you might want the option of seeing a doctor. Not so easy without health insurance, money or a non-maxed out credit card. This is where the government steps in to protect you, after all the years you've paid into the system. In some states, those in need can qualify for free health insurance for a specified period to be provided by the state or county of residence.

The application procedure is relatively simple.
1) Stand in line for one hour to make an appointment at your county health services office.
2) Fill out pages of forms divulging your deepest darkest secrets.
3) Stand in line for two hours in the bitter cold for an 8AM appointment along with 50 people who also have 8AM appointments.
4) Wait inside in a room with 50 other people for your 8AM appointment to start at 11AM.
5) Discuss your deepest darkest secrets with a stranger.
6) Wait six weeks.
7) Repeat the entire process one month later because they seem to have lost your paperwork.

You could qualify for six months coverage. You might want to consider becoming blind or pregnant in order to increase your chances.

The only catch with the state program is your plan will expire by the time a doctor will see you (if you haven’t died by then). Try to plan your medical emergencies well in advance.

Of course, there's always emergency rooms. They’re obligated by the law and Hippocratic oath to treat anyone who needs it. Just make sure not to bring any ID unless it belongs to someone else. And always act as though you have amnesia, even if your problem is a broken toe. This way, you won't be bothered by constant phone calls and threats from collectors that will make you wish your broken toe had been fatal.

For over the counter medications, see my shoplifting hints.

Helpful generic replacement suggestions for costly prescription drugs:
Xanax, Valium and other sedatives -- Vodka
Antibiotics -- Vodka
Prozac, Zoloft and other anti-depressants --Vodka
Codeine, Vicodin and other pain relievers-- Vodka

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