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Brazilian Bureacracy: Two sides of the same groin

April 23rd, 2009

A simple visit to a health clinic for an ultrasound scan provided an object lesson in the famed sluggishness and painstaking nature of Brazilian bureaucracy.

Photo: turtlephotography, flickr

Photo: turtlephotography, flickr

“Doctor will only scan the right side of the groin unless you provide us with a code for the left side as well,” the receptionist insisted to my medical insurance company on Thursday.

For patients used to the British National Health Service (NHS) and all its supposed failings, the Brazilian private sector, for those lucky enough to able to afford it, can be quite an opener too.

I sit there for nigh-on forty minutes, as the receptionist and the health insurance provider battle it out in call after call.

“The groin counts as one area, so you only need one code,” the health insurance operator told me on the phone, on one of the occasions,  I’m dragged into the row.

By the way, I’m there being tested for a suspected hernia.

All this to-ing and fro-ing with them in this verbal game of tennis and fretting about whether I’ll end up stumping up the cost myself is enough to leave my inner workings down below in a permanent twisted state.

Finally, we have a winner.

After yet another consultation with the doctor, the receptionist — who by now feels like my lawyer — gets her way — and the code– and I’m in and out of the ultrasound in a flash.

The scan was scheduled for 7:40am [NHS please note] and I’m back out into the world outside by 9:30 am, with once again Brazilian bureaucracy triumphant!

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