On Sunday, I was clipping Y's nails and I accidentally nicked her right index finger. It started bleeding, not profusely, just a little bit. So I applied pressure on the cut with a clean cloth and tried to stem the flow of blood with cotton and a small bandage, but that didn't work. Ice didn't work either and after the flow didn't stop for 20 minutes (A quick babycenter check said that 10 mins is the maximum it should take), I called the advice nurse at the hospital. She made me hold while she spoke to the emergency room doctor and advised me to apply firm pressure for another 20-30 minutes, and if it didn't stop bleeding at the end of 30 minutes, I was to take Y to the emergency room.
Of course the bleeding didn't stop and I was really irritated. I knew that the cut wasn't serious at all. So taking her to the ER was plainly overkill. At the same time we didn't have any alternative even though all that was required was for a nurse to look at the finger and bandage it. I was totally bugged at the thought that we would have to shell out $100 for a tiny nick to be seen!
We went to the hospital. We had the sense to examine the cut in the parking lot and it had stopped bleeding. What a relief! The inadequacies of the US healthcare system are many and this is just one of them. S and my conversation naturally turned to a comparison of healthcare systems in India and the US. We have so much more flexibility to handle such situations in India. Although the average (poor) Indian often has no recourse to affordable and quality healthcare, people in our socio-economic strata fare so much better. Losing one's job equals being uninsured equals very very scary situation.