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Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Value of Health

Diabetes is an expensive disease. My ailing bank balance is testament to this fact. I pay for things I shouldn't have to consider at my age. I don't like handing my hard earned cash over for a small canister of strips that will me last me 5 days. Last financial year my diabetes cost me 1/10 of my total gross earnings for the year.

At the same time, I am very very thankful I am ABLE to buy these strips, and at the subsidised NDSS price. Yes, I would LOVE a health care card to help bring the price down, especially as I am considering study again and know that the only way to support my disease is to work full time and study full time (I've done 4 years of uni already, I am not spending a second more back at uni then I have to). Which will probably take a massive toll on my body and mind. So yes, a health care card might mean I could work part-time.

But I am getting off topic.

As a receptionist at a private practice, I cannot stand it when, after I have told people the price over the phone pre-appointment, people whinge and moan and bitch about the prices to my face at their consult. If people are aware of the price beforehand, I'm not sure what they think it's going to achieve besides making me feel uncomfortable as I wait for them to end their tirade. Everyone has the option to go through the public system if they don't want to pay out of pocket and you are never forced to go through private system. Some people have tried to justify this to me because they say the public system has a long wait time. I understand this, and I sympathize. But what no-one seems to understand is that that is what makes the difference between private and public medical care systems. If all private practitioners suddenly bulk billed everyone, everywhere would have a long wait time.

I also wish people would understand the amount of time medical practitioners spend scraping out a living as a student to become doctors. If I studied for 15 years after high school, I would want to be paid well for it too. Hopefully people can appreciate this relativity.

But the thing that gets me the most is the value that people place on their health. Sadly, it seems people are happier to pay for a new TV than a consult with a brilliant doctor who could help to ease their suffering, or help restore their sight to help them watch their sparkling new TV. As a person with diabetes I place the utmost importance on my health. I happily pay for private doctors, test more and therefore pay for more test strips than the average diabetic, see my diabetes care team whenever requested because I am the one seeing the benefit to my health.

With all of diabetes' added costs I too save where I can. I see a bulk-billing GP (which sadly, under Tony Abbott, looks as though it will no longer exist soon - something I am strongly against as it will just put more stress on hospital emergency departments and also exclude people who are too poor to afford it, such as the homeless, from accessing even basic heath care. Not to mention that having a chronic illness means I see my GP an average of 20 times per year). I use a care plan to see my mental health team and diabetes educator. I get my yearly optometry tests bulk-billed.

I'm not asking everyone to go and join private clinics. The public system works just as well. I'm just asking that people place a higher value on sustaining their health than a new pair of $200 shoes. Those shoes will be out of fashion next season. Your body is the only one you will ever have.

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