$337 Out of Pocket to See a Doctor in Las Vegas

I recently spent two weeks in London followed by a week in Las Vegas.

As I was leaving London I could tell I was getting something like a sinus infection, which I used to get fairly often. I’ve solved that problem, but that’s story for another time.

Anyway, being someone who just goes to clinics every year or so for an antibiotic prescription, and who never sees a doctor, never uses his insurance, etc., I decided I’d just go to a clinic and get a prescription. I’ve solved that problem too, but that’s a story for another time as well.

Well, I was in for an education.

I’m not sure if this is just Las Vegas, but one does not simply get a prescription while out of state.

I had to call around to find a clinic that was open, and there were not many. One said it would be a two to three hour wait to be seen. So I went to the highest rated place in the city—the UNLV emergency room.

The place reminded me of a modern-day dystopia. Nobody greeted me. The person doing reception looked like was hardened against any possible attack of empathy that the world could throw at her. There was a shielded guard shack right next to her, as if they might have to rush out at any moment to throw tear gas canisters in order to rescue her from the infected masses.

The room was full of people that were clearly poor and/or who could not speak English, some of which looked seriously close to needing an ICU. One woman could barely stand, and lacked the strength to even cough properly. Her husband was holding her up with heartbreaking concern in his eyes.

They were already unprocessed, but nobody came out to them. Nobody seemed the slightest bit concerned.

I felt like a genuine asshole just for being in the same room with the people there. They had REAL problems, this was likely their ONLY medical care option, and here I was worried about a goddamn sinus infection.

But at the same time I was becoming angry at the system, because here I was a fully insured person who’s paid tens of thousands of dollars to medical insurance companies and never really used the service. And now I need the service, in the middle of a giant American city, and I can’t get a single person to glance in my direction.

So I wait for over an hour, which I happily did given the people who actually needed help. Well, not happily, but I wasn’t mad at the people going before me.

When I finally get back there some PA tells me I should take Amoxicillin. I tell him that every doctor I’ve gone to for 15 years has said not to take that because it’s basically nerfed against current bugs. He says he’s never heard that, and to try it out.


So I tell my girl afterwards, who’s a nurse, that I had to get a prescription at an ER for my possible sinus infection, and she’s like,

Well, that’s going to cost you big time. You shouldn’t have gone.

What? Shouldn’t have gone? I pay for insurance? I live in the United States. What am I supposed to do if not ask for help when I need it?

Well I just got the bill. It was $1,000 fucking dollars.

Insurance paid a lot of it, so I’m only paying $337 now. Yay.

So the takeaway here is that I’ve paid unholy amounts of money to insurance companies and if I go out of my region, or state, or whatever (even though the insurance companies are national) then I’m basically screwed.

There’s no number to call and say,

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Hi, I’m a member and I have a sinus infection and I need a prescription.

I can’t do that. Doesn’t exist. It’s not a capability that the United States of America has in 2017. It’s too hard of a problem, evidently. The insurance companies are making millions though, so that’s good.

And fuck MY problems. My problem is easy. Don’t get sick. Get sick in my own state nearby a clinic that already has my insurance card. Go during the day. Etc.

What about the people who don’t have good enough jobs to have good insurance? That’s a misnomer, by the way, since I’ve just learned that there is no good insurance.

What are they supposed to do? Go to a clinic, sit among the unbelievably ill and be processed like cattle until someone unemotionally throws a half-hearted treatment at them? I guess that’s the only move they have.

It’s honestly embarrassing to me. As an American. Basic human services. Someone basically dying in an ER and they have no recourse. And when they get upset there are guards there behind bulletproof glass to keep the peace.

We’re living in a dystopia already. The conservative belief that the poor deserve to suffer, combined with the liberal inability to intelligently and efficiently manage money has created a third-world healthcare system in the richest country in the world.

I’m at the point where I’m basically bypassing the system through the use of some extremely high-end services. Tech-based solutions that allow me to consult with a professional, get a prescription, and have it delivered to me without even visiting anyone in person.

And one step beyond that will be having a doctor come to me and write me a script whenever I need one. That’s starting now and coming soon.

But these are services for the rich. What about everyone else?

So you and I are about to have an Amazon drone drop customized medicines that fill us with magical nanobot stem cells—because we can afford it—while the other 95% of the country is going to sit, shivering from fever, on the other side of bulletproof glass that protects the private security forces, who are paid virtually nothing and probably have crap coverage themselves.

I’m ashamed of this country’s healthcare system. Ashamed.


  1. To add icing to this shit cake, I go to the site to pay this $337 bill and it says, “Oops, you don’t have Flash Player 6 installed.” Ooops indeed. Ooops on the direction of our country. This is after it took the main page around 30 seconds to load. So I’m going to use the postal service to send mail, if that’s still around. Or maybe I’ll fax it. Or perhaps send a courier on horseback.

  2. Fun fact: I never filled the prescription.

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