Sunday, 10 June 2018

Australia on the way to a 2 tier health system? - MRI knee results


Saw my GP the other day for the results of the MRI I had done on my knee. After all those years in printing it's taken it's toll on it. Seems it's very susceptible to injury now. Good grief all I was doing was walking down the street when it happened; going from mild pain to excruciating in an instant. Doubled over in pain and made my way to a nearby seat at the time. 

I have torn cartilage in the knee, along with wear/chipping off the upper leg bone part of the knee. David, being a rehab nurse, had already said that with torn cartilage it's usually just waiting for it to heal on it's own. No operation. However my doctor said that if it was really bothering me it could have keyhole surgery to "tidy things up". I said it wouldn't hurt just to get an opinion off a specialist.

The knee has been getting better though and nothing like when it first happened. Probably walking is good for it now to strengthen the surrounding muscles to protect the injury. Plus I've been wearing one of those elastic knee things for a few hours a day to further protect it, which my doctor said was a really good idea. I'm down to only about 4 Panadol a day now too. I'd rather it get better on it's own than a bloody operation on the thing.

But as I said to my doctor, a specialist opinion wouldn't hurt. So he gave me the referral and I went home and rang the next day to make an appointment - some doctor at St Vincents private I assume. The nearest date available for someone like me with no private health insurance, and with it not being a work injury covered by the employer, wasn't until Sept. The lady gave me all the instructions to bring in the referral and MRI films for the appointment. Then at the very end she said the consultation fee was $250 (minus whatever Medicare covered for it) and that they didn't bulk bill. 

I just laughed. Said "well that cans that then". Told her I was on a pension but that didn't matter; they didn't bulk bill at all. Which I'd have to say is unusual even though the doctor is a private specialist. Normally private specialists bulk bill a pensioner without private insurance. Not in this case. I just said I'd discuss it next time I saw my GP.

So this is where the federal gov is taking us. The whole idea of Medicare is that every single Australian will have access to quality health care. But not in this case with this specialist - pensioners without private insurance are locked out. The gov has continually tried to dismantle the Medicare ideal since Abbott took office back in 2013. Now they're freezing Medicare rebates forcing some doctors to stop bulk billing patients altogether. Meaning health care for those with money, and not for those without. 

Hope nothing drastic happens to my knee then under this gov. I'd have to go to Emergency and be admitted that way to get on another waiting list. Still waiting for cataract surgery since last August. Heard that waiting lists have blown out in New South Wales under the Liberal gov here, with cataract surgery being one of the longest waits now.