December 21, 2011: Cheque Please!

Yesterday we went to Shaare Zedek Hospital (where Stella will have the operation) for our pre-op tests and meetings. Throughout the morning, Stella was examined by the surgeon, anesthesiologist, surgical ward head nurse, and the hospital accountant (so we could have our bank account checked.) That’s a joke, although we did need to drop off a post-dated check equal to about 6,000 falafel in pita sandwiches.

Now let me explain something. Israel has a national health insurance system that is good. It’s not perfect ( and I don’t believe a national health insurance system CAN be perfect,) but I believe it is very, very good. It has paid for truckloads of drugs for us, scans, and examinations up the wazoo (but not of the wazoo because the cancer thankfully never spread there.) And even the surgery would have been paid for if we would be o.k. with a resident doing the operation (under supervision.)

That’s the catch. I am sure the surgical residents are very good. But with my wife’s life literally in someone’s hands, I don’t want “very good.” I want “the best.” After all, I’m the type of guy who is picky over what mechanic I let touch my bike. Shouldn’t I be at least as selective on who is going to be working on my wife?

I think so.

And the Israeli system has enough flexibility that you can choose to have a specific surgeon. But there’s a slight problem. You have to pay the difference between how much the Kupa (the health insurance) will pay and the rate that the particular surgeon charges. Which in the case of a major overhaul such as we are facing, can be pricey.

Again, I don’t think this is unfair. A top notch surgeon has spent years perfecting his work and should be compensated based on his level of skill. It is my understanding that Doctors in Israel are very lowly paid relative to the rest of the world (or even the cost of their education.) In any other field, the most highly skilled can earn more. Why not medicine?

The problem is that the above means that sometimes receiving the highest quality medical care is difficult because of the expense. It’s just a fact, and I don’t really have a global solution. But I know how I feel.

My belief is that in such a situation as we are facing, you do whatever you need to do (legally) to get the best available care. Our surgeon is known in Israel as the guy with the “Golden Hands.” Yeah, that’s the guy I want. Not the guy with “eight and a half fingers.”

And so I was quite happy to write that check out today and then run over to the office that manages the money we raised from the bike ride so I could get reimbursed before my check bounced from Gush Etzion to Australia. It made me feel really good because now I know that my ride was not just symbolic.

And for all of you who contributed, thank you again.

So we are on track for January 1 and trying to “live it up” gastronomically these next two weeks. And as much as are enjoying spending time with great food these days, we are enjoying even more spending time with great friends. Drop by for a doughnut sometime.

Nes Gadol Yiyeh Po –A Great Miracle Will Happen Here

Chanukah Sameach — Happy Hanukah.

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