Recently, a nurse practitioner from the United Health Care Home Visit team came to our house on a Sunday afternoon. It was a pleasant and enjoyable visit.

The visits are scheduled to last between 45 minutes and an hour. The NP stayed over an hour visiting with us individually and giving each of us a thorough exam. The exam was as complete, if not more complete, than our annual checkup at the Monroe Clinic in Freeport.

We asked why United Health Care provided this free service (Medicare does reimburse United Health Care for Medicare patients). The NP answered that working together, United Health Care and the Monroe Clinic can prevent illnesses from occurring or getting worse between visits. Another reminder about shots and vaccinations also helps. And for the elderly, a quick perusal of the home environment can help prevent falls.

We’d highly recommend that if possible, you take advantage of this service, which has no co-pays and is completely free.

The main difference between a NP home visit and our annual checkup is that the NP has more time, up to an hour, to spend with each patient, far more time than any doctor is allowed, even counting the time that a nurse spends taking our vitals.

We like our GP. Over the years, we’ve been pleased with all of our doctors. However, we’ve noticed that they have been forced to spend less and less time with us. The only exception was one former FHN doctor who was constantly running late because he knew he couldn’t do his job properly in 15 minutes.

Modern medicine is data-driven. Now, many doctors are forced to spend more time looking at their computer screen than at their patients. They often have to finish their electronic paper work on their own time.

The GP at the hospital or clinic should have the opportunity to spend as much time with every patient as the home visit provider. What’s unfortunate is that this is a model that works, but because of economic constraints, it can’t be adopted. Sadder still is the horrible realization that the two of us have excellent health care, both Medicare and a supplement, but millions of people have no health care, period, and some are in danger of losing Obamacare.

We are in the midst of a huge national debate about the future of the country’s health care. Most people are upset and many have stopped reading the statistics: best medical science, worst medical delivery systems, the only advanced country with an uninsured population and declining life expectancy. Black women have three times as many childbirth deaths as white women (racism?). The maternal mortality rate in the United States is the worst of any industrialized country, and there are growing numbers of unvaccinated children. The list goes on.

Pharmaceutical companies can’t produce enough vaccine for simple diseases like shingles, but they happily created an opioid crisis killing thousands every year for two decades. There is no problem in Canada and Western Europe, where their governments maintain oversight and enforce regulations. What is frightening is how many American doctors, doctors we trusted, wrote prescriptions or looked the other way. Where was the AMA? Where were the federal and state governments?

We know the answer. Let’s look to Canada and Western Europe where they do it right. Let’s tell the medical monopolies that their day is over. They have lost our trust.

Animal updates: Two piping plover chicks on Chicago’s Montrose Beach are learning to fly. Chance the Snapper, the alligator in Humboldt Park’s lagoon, was captured and is in a Florida alligator farm.

Chuck and Pat Wemstrom live in rural Mount Carroll. Reach them at patandchuck@gmail.com.