Why can’t healthcare be this easy in the US?


As my business trip to Budapest wound down last week, my family and I headed off to Italy on a high speed train (a subject of another post soon) and woke up in Venice, Italy.  And yes, it’s beautiful.

My son had a cold coming into the trip that got progressively worse.  Fortunately (I thought), our travel insurance had free health insurance so I called our travel insurance provider for guidance on where to take him and the 24/7 phone line did nothing but ring through.  No one picked up at all.  I went to the hotel for advice on where to take him and they directed me to the nearby hospital in Venice.  Off we went.

His cough was so bad, we stopped at a pharmacy to get some cough drops to tide him over until he could be seen by the doctor.  We asked for directions to the hospital and the pharmacist directed us instead to a health clinic in St. Mark’s Square that caters to foreign tourists.  A five minute walk later, we found it and walked through the door.

There was no line at all.  There was a nurse and a doctor.  He examined my kid five minutes after I filled out a simple form.  His diagnosis, mild bronchitis and wrote out two prescriptions.  Cost: 25 euros (with the exchange rate that date of about $1.18 American that day before Brexit).  Back to the same pharmacy: 13 Euros for the meds.  We were done in 40 minutes at a cost of under $45 US.

The medicine worked well enough that he was able to enjoy a solid day in Florence and two great days in Rome as he’s both a European history buff and loves art history.  His cough got bad at night, but he had something manageable because we were able to access care quickly and it was great and cheap.

Yes, US doctors and healthcare service are among the best in the world.  And insurance companies here do nothing but get in the way of getting treated.  My call to my travel agent today is to complain my travel insurance provider wasn’t there when we needed them.

Why can’t quality healthcare be this affordable or this easy in the US?