I have the Kaiser Medicare Advantage plan and have been having the hardest time getting access to the kind of care i want/need. When i broke my arm last year, i spent 7 torturous hours in the ER, waiting for help. I was finally bandaged up and told to make an appointment within the week with an arm specialist. The next day, i called Kaiser and they said i needed a referral from my PCP first. It took a week to get the referral and another week to be seen by a Kaiser specialist located in an inconvenient facility far from where i live. After x-rays and splinting, i was told to start OT right away. So i called OT and was told the first available appointment was 5 weeks later by video! I explained that in 5 weeks, my arm might heal awkwardly and i wanted an in-person visit, but the scheduler said take it or leave it. I contacted the arm specialist again and he said to ask for an out-of-network appointment because that was the only way Kaiser would give me the support i needed. He was right — i was given an OT appointment for a couple days later. This is just a short summary — just the beginning — of what became my 6-wk ordeal. And this is just one unhappy incident in a series of terrible HMO responses. In contrast, on a family road-trip to Canada this summer, my grandson got a "crush injury" and we rushed him to the Canadian ER. They saw him in 10 min., took x-rays, cleaned and splinted his injury and had him out of there in 2-1/2 hours. They even gave him popsicles during the discharge process. A few days later, my husband got too dizzy to stand so we ended up in another Canadian ER and this ER was also wonderful! They saw him in 10 min, did an array of blood tests and an EKG, and the doctor spent about 45 min asking questions and doing an array of physical movements of my husband's head and neck, etc. I was so impressed with his thoroughness! Each Canadian healthcare professional we interacted with was friendly, courteous, respectful, knowledgeable, and CARING! The doctor gave my husband some anti-dizziness and anti-nauseous pills in case he needed them and we were out of there in 3 hours. We were also surprised that the ER posted their fees so everyone would know upfront what their charges would be. It was a flat rate of about $1,000 for non-residents for everything, including the blood tests, x-rays, splinting, etc. Canadian residents were charged a flat rate of around $300. They didn't nickel and dime those who need care by charging for every little thing they did! If Canada is an example of universal healthcare, what's so bad about it? And if the U.S. is an example of "the best healthcare system in the world," what's so good about it?</p>

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