Orphan Patients

When I moved out into the country from the city, I did not think I would lack for universal health care, the magnet that had drawn me to this country in the first place. Even our southern neighbour did not have this wonderful system that Canada had, and is still trying to copy it; hopefully her new president will be more successful than some of his predecessors.
But then I discovered that in my new surroundings universality had some caveats attached to it – first you have to try and find a family doctor whenever you move locations beyond commuting distance of each other. “No problem,” I thought and called around – but the local doctors were all full up on their “quotas”. Then I read about a new doctor coming into the community and called the moment I saw the newspaper article. The receptionist who answered me sounded jaded and tired. “I’ll put you on the list. Dr. X will call you if she gets down this far on the list.” Every time I read or heard about a new doctor being “lured” into our community, I was one of the first callers. None of those doctors called me back.
So I joined the army of orphan patients in this land of universal health care.
Could we licence nurse practitioners to take routine cases off doctors and ease their burden? Would that introduce a new intermediary that will ultimately be more costly, similar to the situation down south where costs have skyrocketed because profits, insurance companies and litigation (i.e. the intermediaries) have come in between doctors and patients? Or could we farm more doctors? But they only bugger•off down south for higher salaries, the naysayers will gripe.
Which begs the question as to why a government that funds a doctor’s education, cannot dictate where that doctor should serve out his apprenticeship in payment back to his country? Would that be impeding the freedom of movement of that doctor or would this not just be a fair exchange for mutual benefit? I mean, a bank or a mortgage company certainly tells a borrower how much, and when, he should meet his debt obligations; and even ceases his assets and sends him into bankruptcy when he defaults on his loan in this land of the free.
If we used the theory of fair exchange, we might also solve the crowding of cities with new immigrants. Immigrant applicants with certain skills might be offered the chance to enter this country, only if they are willing to locate in smaller towns and centres where their skills are needed. Given the heinous political conditions under which some immigrants live in their native countries (I was in that situation once), I think they will see this as a fair trade. And if we unclog the cities, perhaps that may disperse the doctors who swarm around them into outlying areas too?
Anyway, I found these ponderous common sense solutions a bit much to pursue. I am not a politician but a writer. So I used some of my connections to leverage quid•pro•quo and found myself a family doctor in the end. For now I am happy and enjoying universal health care again. But at night, it worries me that I took the easy way out, that orphan patients will be a continuing fact of this country, and that influence•peddling, which sank some post colonial countries into the Third World, works in this country.
p.s. Dr. X’s office called back months later. I explained that I had “solved” my problem. They were grateful and offered my seat to the next on the list of orphan patients

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