Australia’s incessant need for doctors certificates

18 Jul

Being from a country that doesn’t have government paid healthcare for all, I find it incredibly ridiculous that over here you need a doctors certificate for this, that, and the other thing.

For example: You’re sick. You need to stay home from work. Fair enough, but you need a doctors certificate. Yes, even though you know that  you have the flu and there’s nothing the doctor can actually do about it, you still need to drag your sick bottom out of bed and to the doctors office where you will sit uncomfortably in the waiting room for at least half an hour, just to tell the doctor you have the flu and need a doctors certificate saying that you are, in fact, sick. Yes, you would be far better off lying in bed at home, but you gotta have that certificate.

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Some employers allow you to have an entire day off sick before you need the certificate (i.e. you’d need to get it to stay home a second day). Wow, isn’t that great?! (yes that was sarcasm, in case you didn’t get that)

Sometimes you’re feeling quite ill, but there aren’t any offensive bodily fluids escaping from either end, so you decide to go to work anyway. I mean it’s not like you can just stay home to recuperate, you’d have to drag your sick self off to the doctor uselessly anyway, so you might as well drag your sick self out of bed and actually get paid for it.

Then you go to work and can’t give it 100% because you feel like death warmed up. Since you’re there instead of in bed at home where you should be, everyone else catches it too. The next day, everyone doesn’t feel like dragging their sick selves out of bed to the doctors for their stupid certificate, so they all go to work too. Now everyone is sick and only working to 50% because you all feel like death. What a great idea it was for employers to require a doctors certificate! Very productive (there’s that sarcasm again…).

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Or say I’m sick, and the kids are sick. I want Aaron to stay home with me to help out, but we’d have to get to the doctor. He can get a certificate to say that we’re sick and he’s helping. Yes, a certificate for the one who isn’t even sick.  But I don’t want or need to go to the doctor. This scenario happend earlier this week. Daniel was vomiting all night (for the first time ever), plus diarrhoea, and then I got the runs too.

I couldn’t go to the doctor. I had the sort of diarrhoea that doesn’t wait for anyone. You have to get to the toilet or it comes anyway. How would I get to the doctor without accidentally pooping myself on the way there? No thanks. Plus what could the doctor do anyway? I just had to ride it out.

And what about the money? Medicare is paid for by the government, i.e. taxpayers. So how much taxpayer money is wasted on ridiculous trips to the doctor just to get a stupid piece of paper to say that you are sick?

Plus, you don’t actually have to be sick to get the certificate. You can just go to any doctor, not your usual doctor, not one that knows you or your history, tell them you’ve got cramps, or the trots, or whatever, and they’ll write you a certificate. They don’t live with you, follow to the bathroom to see if you do indeed have water coming out of your bottom, or interrogate you to find out if your claims are true. Nope, they have so many patients to see, probably half of whom just need that piece of paper, that it’s in and out as quick as they can possibly move you.

Full time employees get 5 days of sick leave per year. Paid. So why do workers need to “prove” that they are sick? What difference does it make? They have 5 days of sick leave for a reason. If they want to waste them on hangovers from binge drinking , watching movies all day for the sake of it, or something like that, then whatever, it’s their 5 days. If they get sick later and need to take unpaid leave, then that’s what they have to do. If they do it all the time, then they’d get fired. So what, it’d be their own fault. We’re talking about adults here, not 5 year olds who say they have a tummy ache so they don’t have to clean their room.

You’d never need a doctors certificate for a sick day in the U.S. For one thing, millions of Americans don’t have health insurance. And health care is expensive over there. Most people wouldn’t stay home from work even if they were bottom-is-like-a-tap sick if they had to pay $85+ just for a piece of paper confirming their sickness.

Not to mention that the majority of health insurance over there is part of the employment package. The employer pays for the health insurance. So an employer certainly isn’t going to make the employee get a doctors certificate when the employer is the one paying for it. If everyone had to do that, the price of insurance would go up and then the employers would have to shell out more money for health insurance, or not offer it at all, driving millions more to the uninsured status.

I was thinking about writing about this today when I got a text from Hannah’s family daycare provider saying that I’d need a doctors certificate stating that she’s well, otherwise she can’t go to daycare on Thursday (how did she know Hannah was sick? She’s my friend, and saw it on Facebook. Note to self: share less on Facebook). Say what? A well certificate.

“Are you serious?” I texted back. “I need a certificate when she’s not going to your house for 2 more days and she’s not even sick today?”

Now I wasn’t mad at her or anything, I know it’s not her rule. Well maybe it is, and then I’m going to look like an ass, but I’m assuming it’s not (note, I wrote this yesterday, and now we’ve been to the doctor, and he says it’s a new government initiative) . It probably sounds mildly reasonable to people who grew up here, but I didn’t.

So now, I have to waste my morning going to the doctors office (instead of spending one on one time with Hannah while Daniel is napping), that’s filled with highly contagious people who are only there to get their stupid certificates. Daniel, Hannah and I will have to sit there next to all the sick people when we are not sick, and hopefully not infect ourselves with who knows what whilst we are there. All to get a piece of paper from my doctor who unless Hannah has any obvious signs of sickness (swollen this or that, blocked this or that, fever, you know, stuff like that), will write of piece of paper, and that’s it. He’s not at home with us, she could be pooping herself 10 times a day, and he’d have no idea. Of course I’d never send her to daycare like that, but you get my drift.

And then there’s the gym. You have to sign up in advance to put your kids in creche on a particular day. If that day comes and your kid wakes up sick and you can’t go, you have to either pay $5, or take them a doctors certificate. So $5 out of your own pocket, or $65+ out of the governments.

I don’t have any kids in school yet, but I’m sure you’d need a doctors certificate there too. Sigh.

There are people, many, many people in the world who can’t afford to go to the doctor when they desperately need to. And here we are, forced to go to the doctor needlessly, clogging up the system and costing the government lots of money. Ridiculous. I wonder how many lives could be saved if instead of going to the doctor for a doctors certificate, we could stay home and recuperate whilst that money would instead fund a trip to the doctor for someone who actually needed it. In a third world country, one of our doctor visits could pay for heaps of doctor visits. It’s so unfair. Sigh.

Am I the only one that thinks this is ridiculous?

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8 Responses to “Australia’s incessant need for doctors certificates”

  1. LBcruiseshipblogger July 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Your tax dollars at work. At least you have health care. And some employers here DO require a doctor’s note, although it is normally for people who have missed more than a day or two.

    • Mommy Adventures July 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Oh, I suppose I’m thinking of how things were 10 years ago. Don’t think you needed one back then. Not at any of my jobs anyway.

  2. Ashley July 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    You make good points there Sheri. I thought we were crazy here with all the crap going on with medical care but your sounds more messed up. Its cool that you guys have free medical, but I think your right about the stupid pointless trips to the Dr. For a piece of paper.

  3. Molley Mills July 20, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    I worked for a local government for many years and their rule was you needed a certificate if you were sick more than 2 consecutive days or if it was a monday or friday. This being because many people would just decide to have a long weekend. Australia does have the rep of the land of the long weekend. Unfortunately wherever you live people will abuse the system and while I agree it’s annoying, if you are genuinely sick for more than 2 days you should be seeking medical attention anyway. I would much rather have that problem than the current problem here in the USA. I’m an Aussie living in New York without health insurance because growing up in a free system, I refuse to pay 2000+ a month for my family not to get sick. I would rather cop the 200 bucks for a doctor visit if required. So far in 7 years we’ve been to the doctor collectively 5 times and 3 of those were for the ridiculous school physicals. While no system is perfect. Perhaps the inconvenience of making a trip to the doc for a certificate is better than bankruptcy for exorbitant medical bills that do nothing but line the pockets of the already too powerful health insurance/medical companies for something totally out of your control. Just an opinion 🙂

    • Mommy Adventures July 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

      Fair point. I just think the government could save themselves a lot of money in medicare bills if they didn’t require such certificates all the time.

  4. killabeez August 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    You’re absolutely right. It’s just another form of control in this ever increasing fascist company we call Australia with bosses thinking they’re the masters of your universe. Shove it boss!
    They’re my sick days and I’ll do with them as I please. If I use all of them up and then have to go without pay then that’s my problem.

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