If Chronic Illness Had a Rewards Card

·2 min read

My friend mentioned the other day that there should be a rewards program for people who have to go to the doctor all the time. And it got me thinking. I have punch cards for all my favorite coffee shops. Buy 10 drinks, get the next one free. Smoothies, pizza, whatever. There is one for almost everything. I even have a card for eyebrow waxing. If I get my eyebrows waxed nine times, the 10th time is free. So why can’t we get punch cards for doctor appointments? Go to 10 appointments, and the next one is on us. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Can you imagine? Handing payment over along with our punch card. “Thank you Heather, you have just three more punches to go.” Or, “Congratulations! Your next visit is on us!” Pharmacy, hospital stays, physical therapy, cardiac rehab… If I pick up the same prescriptions for 10 months in a row, can I get a month for free? Or stay 10 days in the hospital, the eleventh day is free?

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It’s funny to think of, but at the same time it’s not. With chronic illness, the appointments are endless. And so are copays, bills and unexpected expenses. There are scheduled appointments and ones that come up at the last minute. One time I counted, and within a month, I had 14 appointments. It’s not unusual for many patients, so surely it deserves a reward? We refer jokingly to a floor at the hospital as our “second home” and it’s not far from the truth. We spend more time with our medical providers than with our friends and loved ones, and if we’re lucky enough, they treat us like family. But who wants to spend their time with medical “family?” I’d rather spend time at my favorite coffee shop or hanging out with my kids.

Maybe I’ll make my own punch card. For every 10 appointments, I’ll treat myself to a cup of coffee. Not the same, but at least I’m taking care of myself.

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