Monday, November 21, 2016

Dubious Advantages of Advantage Care

On Friday night my daughter complained of pain in her leg. She had done some sort of spectacular jump to get somewhere, and it somehow caught up with her. She thought she may have hurt herself somehow, and wanted to go to an urgent care. I decided to try out the Advantage Care facility even though it was about 15 minutes away from our home. Why not save fifty bucks?

So we drove over there, and it turned out to be in the second floor of an office building. There was no sign outside. I was glad we'd looked up the address. We had to get out of the car and look into the windows to even find it, but we did.

We walked into a room full of people waiting. It was pretty dark, but it reminded me very much of an ER. I got the same sense of impending dread I get in ERs, to wit, how many hours am I gonna be stuck here? The receptionist informed us that we would have to wait until all those people were seen before we'd be seen. She also told us they didn't have an x-ray machine, which is pretty much standard in every other urgent care facility I'd ever entered.

My daughter started asking questions, and the woman became exasperated and referred her to the nurse. The nurse was pretty friendly, and took my daughter to a room in the back, after which she came out and informed me that they couldn't help her very much and if we wanted their lack of help we'd have to wait a pretty long time for it.  The nurse again mentioned we'd have to wait for all those people.

I said let's go, and my daughter looked up nearby urgent care facilities on her phone. We found a CityMD facility, they had an X-ray machine, and we followed the GPS over there. It took about five minutes. We walked into a bright and clean facility, with several friendly receptionists. True, we had to fill out some paperwork. We also had to wait about five more minutes before she was seen.

But the doctor spent a lot of time with her. On the negative side, we had to actually pay the fifty bucks. But I got the distinct sense that you get what you pay for. The Advantage Care facility is not convenient to where we live. Were it more urgent, we couldn't have taken the time to go there. Is it worth waiting hours to save fifty bucks? Well, if they haven't got the tools for the job, it certainly isn't.

I'm not independently wealthy or anything, but I don't want to sit around for hours waiting for a doctor I don't even know. It's better than sitting around at an emergency room waiting for the same thing, I suppose. But if I can avoid that by paying, I will. Would you want to sit in a room full of people and wait to save fifty bucks?

NYPD is still paying fifteen bucks for a co-pay at urgent care. I saw a note to that effect behind the desk at CityMD. Of course, they haven't got crack negotiators like Michael Mulgrew and all the smart people he's always talking about working for them. I've been to events where UFT employees get up and tell us how lucky we are to have higher co-pays. You see, no money is deducted from our paychecks. Somehow, it's a great advantage to have the money deducted directly from our pockets.

But thanks to UFT leadership, we now have the right to seek insufficient care with long waits at lower prices.  Unless, of course, we live in the Bronx. People in the Bronx have to drive to other boroughs if they want to wait on long lines for poorly-equipped urgent care.

But there's always a silver lining. You can rest assured the UFT employees who preach to us about what a great deal the increased co-pays are make a whole lot more in salary than we do. So there's that. But there are also a few more years before Mulgrew keeps his promise to save all that money on health care, so co-pays can go up more, choices can become fewer, and the big claim that nothing more is deducted from our paycheck can go up in smoke pretty much any time.

This is what we gave up in exchange for getting what NYPD got in 2009, except we get it eleven years later. Oh, and for adding on the lowest pattern bargain I've seen in my life. You can be sure our brother and sister unionists will be thanking us for many years to come.
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