The upside of catching a nasty flu bug on my last week in New Zealand was getting a genuine glimpse inside a health care system outside the USA for the first time. Without getting into the pros and cons of socialized medicine, the experience was profoundly more humane and comfortable than I’m used to:
- When I walked into the medical facility, they simply asked me if I would like to see a doctor and I said yes. I didn’t have to explain my medical condition in detail in front of a waiting room full of people.
- I was asked to fill out a form with my name, address, and phone number, along with a checkbox asking if I was a citizen or resident. There was no clipboard with 15 pages of forms.
- The waiting room was quiet, with no TV blaring, and with comfortable seats. There was a seriously hard-core ventilation system to help keep the air fresh and to help keep everyone from catching everyone else’s germs.
- When they were ready for me, the doctor walked out and called my name and I walked back with him to the examination room. No triage and waiting for a doctor to arrive.
- The examination room was very roomy and comfortable, with a desk for the doctor and his computer, a comfy chair for me, and an examination table off to the side. It was very warmly lit, rather than with harsh fluorescent lights.
- Filling my prescriptions took less than 5 minutes. Like it should.
It was a completely stress-free experience, which is exactly what someone who doesn’t feel well needs.