Health Care for the Streets

If you’re like most poor people, you’re probably having some problems finding decent health coverage, but you probably aren’t having any problems finding diseases. When shopping for back-alley physicians, always remember the back-alley Hippocratic Oath: “If it’s an unlimited supply of tainted needles you’re looking for, come and talk to my buddy over here.”

How to Choose
When approaching your back-alley physician, make sure he is accredited. Signs of accreditation usually include more than one kind of blood type in some jars and a thick, lustrous mustache. Make sure the jars have labels.

Know the Basics
Don’t let him trick you into fancy procedures you don’t need like tumor removal or antibiotics. Always take note of whether or not his scalpels are clean; if they are, then he’s obviously inexperienced and hasn’t used them yet that day. You should come back later when he’s gotten into a good rhythm.

Understanding Your Diagnosis
Years of back-alley coursework and bloody urban turf wars have altered your physician’s lingo to fit his more streetwise clientele. If he says you have leprosy, you really have hepatitis C. Head wound? Hep C. And if he says you have consumption, then part of your leg is stuck in the jaws of a giant sewer-dwelling alligator, who is likewise afflicted with hepatitis.

Referrals to Specialists
Need a specialist? There’s one on every corner. Always remember, though, that when your physician refers you to a common street pimp billing himself as “the Doctor of Desire” he can cure only one ailment: a broken heart.

Paying the Bill
Most starting physicians will accept “thrills” as appropriate compensation. Others accept food stamps. Most will be content with a quid pro quo arrangement, provided you’re a back-alley medical school professor.