Wednesday, July 5, 2017


I drove to care for a woman with a respiratory infection at the Georgian, a boutique beach hotel in Santa Monica. My phone rang as I pulled up at the entrance. The caller was JI, a Japanese travel insurance agency with a patient in a downtown hotel. Ten o’clock is perfect for driving downtown. Freeway traffic dips until noon when it begins a steady climb toward the evening rush.

“I can be there within the hour,” I said only to hear that the patient wanted someone between 4 and 6. I explained that people don’t realize how quickly I arrive. I could be there in 45 minutes. She checked but informed me that the guest wanted to go on a tour. Disappointed, I agreed to arrive at 4, a very inconvenient hour.

The phone rang soon after I returned home, a lady at the airport Westin whose husband was coughing. Did I accept Blue Cross? I didn’t. American insurance pays skimpily for a housecall, and billing requires skill and patience; foreign insurers do better. I gave directions to a walk-in clinic a mile away. Many Americans decide that paying for a housecall is preferable; she assured me she’d call back if she wanted a visit.

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