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20 May 2009 @ 11:21 pm
One of my questiony posts, requiring information from the Yanks, regarding: hospital/Health Care visits and, uh, macaroni and cheese. I never said they were intelligent questions...

1. Here in Canada, we have Kraft Dinner, or KD. It has recently come to my attention that Americans do not call it Kraft Dinner. They call it Kraft Mac'n'Cheese, or something to that effect. So, my questions are:

a) is it ever called Kraft Dinner in the States?
B) Here, it's a staple of college students' and low income families' diets. You can make it for cheap and most university students live on the stuff. If you look at the Kraft Canada website, at least half the recipes are based on Kraft Dinner. It's sort of comfort food, too, I'm guessing sort of like Beans on Toast is to the Brits. Is it used that way in the States or is there something you could think of that would be an equivalent? Something that would be a staple of a low income/student diet?

Here's a comparison of the two boxes, if you need clarification.

2. In Canada, we have universal health care. We have a Health Card (looks like this) that is swiped whenever we go to the doctor/hospital/anywhere healthcareish. It brings up all the info on the patient, like address and phone number and such. In the States, do you have an equivalent or would you have to fill out forms if you showed up in, say, the ER? What would be the procedure there? How would billing work, if you aren't insured?

Thanks again, faithful flist!
Current Music: I Wish You Well - Josie & the Pussycats
Human Collaborator Flunkie Pool!fic Muse: Writingjoyfulfeather on May 21st, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
1) Mac'n'cheese is definitely a comfort food! I've never ever heard it called "Kraft Dinner" ever, though. That's a new one on me. It's definitely useful in college (I ate it a lot!) but the stereotypical college staple is ramen noodles. Oh, but Easy Mac -- the microwavable version of Mac'n'cheese -- is a college staple too. (Not one I ever ate, but everyone else I knew did.)

Now I want mac'n'cheese. Mmm.

2) Not sure about the ER, honestly, or the billing question. However, I know that every time you go to a new doctor, you fill out a bunch of paperwork. I am jealous at the thought of not having to do that!
The Writer They Call Tay: DW: Rose cutieawanderingbard on May 22nd, 2009 05:13 am (UTC)
Oh, Easy Mac. I lived on that one summer until it turned out I was allergic to it. I miss my Kraft Dinner. :(

The Health Card is very useful, but you get very dirty looks if you forget to bring it with you. You need it for pretty much everything.

Thanks for the answers!
donutsweeperdonutsweeper on May 21st, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
I've only ever heard it called Kraft Dinner in the "Barenaked Ladies" song. Here it's Mac 'n' cheese, and it is totally comfort food and cheap food and student food and easy to make food.

in the US if you have an insurance card they rarely have swipe info, there's a number on the back for the hospital/doctor to call to find out if you are covered and what you're covered for and if this hospital/doctor is "in network" (which would be cheaper) or not.

You have to fill out all the forms yourself (or your parent/husband/friend does). They can fax/use computers to access your records at another clinic/hospital if you give them permission.

With or without insurance billing is similar. Usually there is a co-pay/office visit pay/sort of thing they try to get then and there. Then they submit the bill for everything done to the insurance company and bill you whatever the company doesn't pay.

In theory.

There are a lot of variables though, but that's the basics. The bill will be mailed to you in 4 weeks or so/
The Writer They Call Tay: DW: Rose cutieawanderingbard on May 22nd, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
Ahh, the Barenaked Ladies. One of our finest exports. Until the whole drugs thing.

Thanks for the answers! :-)
donutsweeper: fraser smilingdonutsweeper on May 22nd, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
If only you'd export him... *sighs*
The Writer They Call Tay: DH: Random Happenstanceawanderingbard on May 22nd, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)
Yes, he is very determinedly Canadian, isn't he? I don't think he's made more than two or three films outside of Canada. He's very vocal about our film industry and such.

It seems sad that he stays at home while Keanu Reeves wanders aimlessly through blockbusters.
donutsweeper: fraser smilingdonutsweeper on May 22nd, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)
respect and integrity are better than money. Good for Paul for that.

Although, I've heard he had a new TV show for next season? "Eastwick" or something?
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 22nd, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
He's done a lot of advocating for the film industry here, too. Talked to parliament and stuff.

I did not know that, but it seems you are right. Must be filmed in Canada. Jaime Ray Newman is in it. She's Canadian. We have this joke here that Canada only has ten or so actors and they just get cast in everything. It's so true. :-)
donutsweeperdonutsweeper on May 22nd, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
As long as they're good actors, who cares?

And YAY, Paul Gross on my TV again!
utah_yodautah_yoda on May 21st, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
Oh, there is a lot of macaroni and cheese eating on college campuses. We also call it Yellow Death, or at least we do in the western part of the country.

Ramen noodles are another staple of the college student or anyone else who doesn't have a lot of money. It is really the stereotypical food for people who are broke. People eat them plain, as soup, make salads out of them, add vegetables and lunch meat, or just eat them dry. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are another staple.

If you go to the ER in the US, you will have to fill out a form or twelve. If you have been to the hospital before, they will usually have some of your information on file, but you always have to sign the privacy law agreement, and often other papers. It depends on the hospital. If you have insurance, you give them your insurance card. They take a lot of the information off of that. Then you pay your copayment. In the ER, this is usually at least one hundred dollars. If you don't have insurance, they will bill you later.

Hope some of this is helpful. Our healthcare system is baffling to those of use who live here. I can't imagine what it looks like to someone who doesn't.

The Writer They Call Tay: DW: Rose cutieawanderingbard on May 22nd, 2009 05:17 am (UTC)
You're the second person to say ramen noodles. We have lots of them here, but I don't know if they are as popular. That's interesting.

Fortunately, the baffling nature of your healthcare system actual aids in the fic idea I had. I do agree that it sounds very confusing, however.

Thanks for the answers!
Draickin und Phoenixdraickinphoenix on May 21st, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Comfort Foods:

Kraft ANYTHING is cheap and comforting (and reminds me so much of a Richard Jeni joke that I will not repeat). Ramen Noodles are even cheaper and more filling, and we love them. Higher-class college budgets may also include Hamburger Helper (on sale all the time and often 2 for $3-5... and you can usually buy value packs of cheap hamburger meat - like 5 pounds for $10 or so.) and Banquet microwave dinners. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches are popular. And McDonalds' fries.

As for hospitals:

Forms, forms, and more forms. Last time I ended up in the emergency room I had to wait almost two hours before the doctor saw me. There was a stack of forms I had to present, and they insisted that I pay my insurance co-pay before they would see me (which by law an emergency room cannot turn you down if you can't pay, but they still act like total tools if you don't). Then I had to sit in the waiting room for 45 minutes before they even put me in a room.

And once it was over, I got my explanation of benefits from my insurance company, and it didn't match with the bill I got from the hospital. The hospital wanted more money than the insurance paid, so that was a six-month headache.

Oh yeah - while at the hospital if you need some sort of procedure not related to your immediate survival, it has to be cleared by the insurance carrier first. That process can take up to two weeks, and depending on how good your insurance is, they may still not pay it.

Being uninsured is another matter entirely. Like I said, a hospital can't turn a person away. HOWEVER, when the bill comes and you don't have insurance, it's going to be STEEEEEEEP. Most medical groups will arrange payment plans for high bills, but the majority of the uninsured now just don't pay the bills.

A hospital can't forcefully collect money from anyone. They can file a claim with what's called a "setoff debt" group (another discussion), which will collect the arrears from federal income tax returns. Basically, if you don't pay your bill and you work, if you get a tax refund it will go straight to the medical group.

Hope this helps. If I can provide more info on any of it, just yell.
The Writer They Call Tay: DW: Rose cutieawanderingbard on May 22nd, 2009 05:20 am (UTC)
Oooh, I hadn't thought of Hamburger Helper...that might work.

If it makes you feel any better, the wait in the ER here isn't any less due to the Health Cards. Unless you're dying, you're in for quite a long wait. When I was having gallbladder attacks, I went to the ER around six or so at night and didn't get admitted until two or three in the morning - at a different hospital than the one I started out at.

Thanks for the answers!