Hostgator promos

So what is a newyorksubalien...

I’m a New York subalien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly legal – it’s just my loving other half, official alien that he is, comes with a so-called “supermodel” visa that apparently denotes him as one possessing extraordinary abilities (falling asleep within 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, remembering only 2 of the 3 items on a mental shopping list and not knowing where the dishwasher tablets live after 2 years in our apartment are just some of his many talents).

The same visa leaves me extraordinarily unable to possess that most American of entities - a “social” i.e. a Social Security Number. Calling it a “social” makes it sound like the password to some party-filled, fun-packed lifestyle. That’s not far wrong as without these all-important 9 numbers, you pretty much can’t have a lifestyle at all - no bank account, no credit card, not even a driver’s license.

So what does a subalien do? Well, like over sub life forms waiting for evolution to give them a leg up on the ladder of existence, I have plenty of time to observe and these, dear reader, are my observations…..

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finding out the true cost of an arm and leg in the planetary healthcare system

I now know what they mean when people comment that healthcare in Planet Big Apple can cost you an arm and a leg.

I’m also realising it will be no mean feat to make it through our planetary visit with all our body parts intact. This is not because the locals have openly displayed any desire to conduct biological experiments to discover why our teeth are so crooked and our brows so furrowed. It is simply that in our current home, how sick you are appears to depend to some extent on which insurance plan you possess and what procedures it covers.

Take our annual check-ups, for example. An admirable institution and one I fully appreciate is a good idea now that Superalien and I are starting to look increasingly like ET. However on our last visit, surprisingly both of us were independently advised by our charming general practitioner that our alien hearts were murmuring and that we should have an echo cardiogram.

Just by chance, said doctor had recently installed the necessary device in another one of his offices and when I turned up for my appointment, it would appear from the number of other patients waiting for the same test there is a lot of murmuring in our neighbourhood. Perhaps all this low-key coronary chatter is why New York is the city that never sleeps.

Thankfully, as you may have guessed, both our alien murmurs magically had disappeared and there was no need to remove said hearts. My shoulder however is not so fortunate. To be fair, I have actually seen the golf ball-sized (it looks that big to me) lump of calcium which is preventing me from being the obviously brilliant American football thrower I will become once it is removed.

I’ve seen it because it’s there in the MRI images they took when I was stuck for 30 minutes in a very noisy torpedo tube. In my local neck of the woods, Norn Iron, the waiting list for an MRI scan is years as the number of machines we possess you can probably count on one hand - here, that’s as many as can be found in medical offices on just one street. My experience ran like this.

Very nice assistant: “The doctor would like you to have an MRI so we’ll just clear it first with your medical insurance”
Me: “Actually I’m a bit claustrophophic. Is it really necessary?” (Remember this is to do with my shoulder).
Very nice assistant: “Well you can have this other – oh, but I’ve just found out that you are covered for the MRI so that would definitely be best”.

I made the appointment for the next week (I was busy the next day, not them). The whole thing took an hour. Just like the National Health.

I’m also battling to hold on to my teeth. I can understand why, with the preoccupation over pearly white dentures, the locals may be inclined to tear the whole lot out. But this would not be covered in the medical plan. So they’re starting small and my trusted dentist is currently concentrating on getting three out which will allow him to crown another.

This of course has nothing to do with his recent move into enlarged premises. In the same way that my optician who has also moved up and out in the world (office-wise that is) has just decided my eyesight is bad enough to require highly specialized, highly expensive eye-glass lenses. Lenses that are described by my medical plan as only necessary for those who have had corrective surgery. Perhaps she was going on the fact that I was rubbing my eyes and blinking – but only after looking at the bill she presented, almost all of which I had to pay.

We were in fact forewarned. At the famous “cultural" seminar we attended on landing, we were told that when asked their 5 most important goals in life, Americans included being a better healthcare consumer. We had no idea what they meant – literally. At the time we envisaged they meant being up-to-date on the latest treatments or making sure they went to the doctor more regularly. How naïve we were then.

Nearly three years and two medical plans later, I’m still a rookie who gets stung for the non-covered high performance glass lenses but at least my soon-to-be-downsized shoulder is not going to cost me an arm and a leg. That’s because I’m writing “Not this one - the left shoulder” on them before I go into the operating room!
Creative Commons License by Caroline Eagles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.