As those of you who follow me on Twitter may know, Erin and I took a nice long road trip down the west coast of the United States this month. We had a great trip and at some point I’m sure I’ll sit down and share all of our adventures with you, like a boring vacation slideshow, but with evening boring-er words!

But for now I want to share one specific, not-so-awesome adventure.

You may recall a few months back I fell ill with a serious urinary/kidney/prostate infection, forcing Inglorious Hipsters’ high rate of comic mass-production to stall for a week. Well, evidently my body wanted a rematch with Urinary Tract Infection and I fell ill once again as we drove into San Francisco, California.

Seemingly this would not be a big problem, I just needed a doctor to prescribe me some antibiotics. I called my travel insurance agent who directed me to a medical clinic in Daly, a suburb on the peninsula. When we arrived at the clinic I explained my situation, I was from Canada, I had UTI symptoms and was directed by my travel insurance agency to seek help here. Ignoring what I just said the receptionist asked “do you have insurance?”

“Yes, travel insurance.”

“I don’t think we can help you.”

We were then told there were no appointments available for the day anyhow and were directed another doctor’s office upstairs.

Upstairs, I was greeted with the same first question about the status of my insurance then informed there was “no doctor in the office today.” Okay, than why is the office open in the first place? That, dear reader, remains a mystery.

I called my travel insurance agent again, explaining no one would see me. She directed us to another clinic up the road and off we went. As we approached the building we witnessed an enormous black man angrily patrolling the doorway shouting “bullshit” a lot and proclaiming he was going to “get the clinic shut down today, believe that!” This new clinic was already not showing a lot of promise.

“We have no appointments available today.” Of course.

What was that about the wait times in a single-payer health care system again? We had now been at three separate offices and none had the capacity to take us. As the receptionist kindly tried to direct us to an office that might help me, the man entered the clinic to continue voicing his threats to shut down the joint. I felt bad for the receptionists who looked a bit nervous. The man didn’t seem dangerous, but having a belligerent, angry dude in your office would be nerve racking.

Fourth time is the charm, right? At a university hospital back in downtown San Francisco we finally found a walk-in clinic who had time to look at my pee.

“Do you have insurance?”


“It’ll be $400 then.”

Four hundred dollars just to see a doctor. I was suddenly beginning to understand some of the horror stories I’ve heard about uninsured Americans who avoid critical medical treatment, there’s no way to afford it. What would it have cost me if I needed a CT scan? What if I didn’t have enough money in my pocket to pay for it up front? It’s scary.

If a conservative minded fellow ever tries to explain to me the wonders of the free market and how it can help the healthcare system and can now honestly look that person in the eye with experience at tell him I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.

Of course, this is my one and only experience with the American system. It was a bad one, but one bad experience isn’t representative on the whole system. However, I can tell you I was extremely happy to get back to Canada and felt much safer knowing if something went wrong I would get help, no questions asked.