Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The next stop is...Medicare

Being, as I am, philosophically opposed to private health cover, I am happy to pay for those specialist services boy genius requires that the government doesn’t provide and graciously accept the Medicare rebate they offer.
Collecting this rebate means a visit to the local (though these days there are so few of them they might well be called regional) Medicare office. It’s been quite a while since I made the pilgrimage so this morning I girded my loins (ie, put on comfy shoes and grabbed a book) and hauled myself in to Southland.
As I said, it’s been quite a while, and things have changed since I was there last.
The Medicare office now has the welcoming ambience of a railway station waiting room. Sure a nice railway station with carpet and upholstered seats but a railway station waiting room nonetheless, complete with old newspapers left on seats and a gumball type vending machine. (The trap door of which pierces the entire room with a sharp crash every time it is dropped. This is every few seconds because once a child sees it they can’t help themselves and have to lift that damned flap.)
Instead of the single queue they now have a ticketing system very similar to the one at the deli, you know, where you take a number then wait until you’re called. Every few minutes a mechanical voice (that sounds very much like the woman who announces the stops on the Frankston line-adding to the station atmosphere) calls out a ticket number and a window number. I had to repress the urge to yell BINGO! when my number finally came up.
I suspect the changes are meant to make the system somehow more efficient or the Medicare experience more pleasant, perhaps both. A pointless waist of public funds since a bureaucracy is a bureaucracy and it is not in its nature to run efficiently and with the possible exception of a few retired station masters railway waiting rooms aren’t considered particularly aesthetic.
But I do have an idea that could make the Medicare offices a more pleasant place for everyone, staff and clients alike-
Get rid of that bloody annoying gumball machine.