Tuesday, December 20, 2005

You Get What You Pay For....or Money Talks

My Beloved is recovering from sinus surgery. Her doctor of choice specializes in plastic surgery to the rich and famous and the ladies who lunch, though he has a small group of ENT patients. My Beloved also likes her hand held so I've been accompanying her to the follow up visits.

It's interesting to compare this office to that the emergency rooms that I spent so much time in this past fall.

The walls of this waiting room are painted that of so flattering pink, the lighting is dim and the chairs are cushy and comfortable - no rows of plastic airline waiting room seats for this guy. Not one single tattered copy of Readers Digest or a 3 year old People Magazine. The waiting room is stacked with pristine copies of W, Harpers Bizarre, Town & Country and Vogue.

His staff is all young & slim, with short skirts, high heels and collagen lips. It is obvious they get a hefty staff discount on his services. Instead of scrubs printed with puppies and kittens (size XXL) they wear white lab coats with their names embroidered (in pink) over the left pocket.

The clientele is Anglo, female and over 40. The combined cost of their jewelry, purses and shoes is most likely more than the GNP of some third world nations. Every hair on their head is professionally colored and styled, every nail carefully painted and filed.

This office hasn't one single notice about letting the staff know if your insurance has changed. They know most of their clients are here by choice and will be paying in cash. The brochures (glossy and professional done) do mention a payment plan option, if you should need it.

I flashed back to one of the emergency room visits I made with my friend Pie. It was a Saturday, she'd fallen and we ended up at the closest hospital.

The chairs in the waiting room were hard, uncomfortable and there wasn't an empty one to be found. The floors were battleship grey linoleum, the walls green and lighting harsh and florescent. The noise level was deafening a combination of blaring televisions and ringing cell phones. The clientele was as diverse as the city of Houston and the majority of the people were Hispanic or African American. Many extended families, many whining children who had colds or earaches. The staff was harried, overworked and wore comfortable shoes and baggy scrubs.

There weren't many signs about insurance there either - but not because the people would be paying cash, but because most of the people couldn't pay at all.


Doug Johnson said...


Thanks for writing this. Very telling about the continued and increasing stratification of wealth in this country.

Such examples remind me of why I stay in education. I am not sure anything will ever make this a society in which all members are treated well (The poor shall be with you always). But if anything can help change the society, it will be a better educated population.

Have a wonderful holiday break,


An Educational Voyage said...

This was a great description of ironic polarization between the classes. You have an easy flow writing style!

I hope the procedure went well and healing is easy and swift.

Happy and Healthy Holidays and New Year!