Today I had an experience passing a complex bio-chemical blood test in addition to a test for various dangerous infections in Moscow. Not that I suspect having any of them in my blood stream, but this is required before dentist could put some implant teeth into my mouth.
The fascinating thing is how things have changed in blood testing for the last two decades. Let’s go thru those changes:
How I would do a blood test in Soviet and early post-Soviet time:
- In early 1990s I had the only place to go when I need a blood test. It was the nearest state owned clinic.
- In order to have a blood tested, I would have to go to a dentist or physician first. To get a paper with a prescription for tests required stamped with a doctor’s seal.
- In order to do this, I (or my parents) would have to wake up early to reach the clinic registry to make an appointment with a doctor. After waiting in a line for 30-40 minutes at best the registry gives a magic paper with a room number and an appointment time (a.k.a. “talonchik”).
- Say I have talonchik and doctor gave me all prescriptions I need. Then I had to go to a blood test room. This place worked only Mon-Wed 8:00-9:30 and if you need multiple types of tests they would ask for your finger and then they will take your blood form your arm. I have no idea what exactly these nurses and laboratory are doing the rest of the time, but they were not available if you needed a blood test and you were not dying.
- The number of people who tried squeezing themselves in 1.5h time-slot was always staggering. Small kids are crying, old ladies are cursing the hospital and the government and you stay because you were not lucky enough to get a seat. All seats are occupied by old ladies who came at 6:00 or 7:00 in a morning to book a position in a line. So, you have to wait or to come very early to be the first one in the line.
- The result is ready in 3-4 days and filed to your medical record book.
- The next time you go to dentist, you pick up this medical record book form the registry after staying in the line again and bring it to a doctor.
How I do this now:
- I call a dental clinic to make an appointment with a doctor.
- At the time of the appointment I show up in a clinic. My medical record is taken from the reception by the nurse that escorts me to a treatment room.
- Dentist asks me to have a blood test and gives me a list of tests printed on printer. Some tests require me not to take any food for 12 hours.
- Doctor suggests passing a test in one of private labs that work 24/7 all over the Moscow at the time of my convenience. Doctor puts his e-mail on the same paper suggesting to ask lab to send electronic results to his email.
- Next morning I show up at one of these labs, present them list of tests, my passport and pay them $100 (usually covered by insurance if taken in the same clinic). I’m all good in 15 minutes.
- Next morning everything is in doctor’s mailbox.
- Doctor calls me saying everything is great I am welcome to make an appointment and proceed.
It would be quite ironic if the US ends up in a Soviet style care and Russia goes market-based one.
Socialistic healtcare is scary. Socialism could be not good for your health.