Those are the Rules - Dutch Healthcare Not Up to Par
When I first came to America many, many decades ago, I was appalled at the "live or let die" attitude of American society. I felt that free education and free health care were a citizen's birthrights. And I have always felt that America could learn from the Dutch approach to taking care of it's citizens' health.
I am again visiting my 86-year-old mother in beautiful Holland. How clean and civilized it is here. Such a contrast with our dirty, pothole-studded streets in Boston. I am glad we 'parked' our mother here. Of all the places in the world, this is paradise for the elderly. Or so I thought until my most recent experience with the Dutch Healthcare system.
I will not bore you with the details of my mother's medical condition other than to say that her eye specialist recommended a series of injections for her macular degeneration. Very encouraging news, I thought to myself. We caught the evil monster in time before it wreaks havoc with my mom's vision. Don't wait too long, the doctor said. Next month at the latest.
So we go to the front desk to make an appointment. Yes, time is of the essence here. 'Oh, but you have to wait until the secretary is back from vacation to make an appointment' says one of the assistants. I am astounded. My mother is gradually turning blind and we have to wait for a secretary sitting somewhere on a beach getting a tan!? I hear my own voice escalate to a new level of irritation: 'Hold on here' I say in my rusty Dutch. 'We were just told by your boss not to wait too long with this treatment.' 'Miss Tan is the only one who sets up appointments of this kind, those are the rules. She will call you when she gets back.' 'When will that be, pray tell?' 'Next week... sometime.'
I must have been a terrier in my previous life, because situations like this make me dig in my heels and really go for whatever I am after. Next day I call and ask to speak to the specialist. 'No, you cannot speak to him.' 'Why?' 'Those are the rules.' 'Can YOU ask him why we have to wait when he recommended not to wait.' 'No, I cannot do that.' 'Why?' 'Those are the rules.The tanning lady will call you back when she returns from her beach in Spain. But don't hope too much: there is a waiting list you know.'Continued on the next page