For what it is worth, I've never heard of anyone among the people I hang out with getting tested for the flu, unless maybe it is very severe. We are not supposed to take ourselves or the kids to the Dr. for it, either. Just do regular home care, over the counter meds, etc. If you have a cough that goes on for longer than three weeks, they might see you. This was central wisconsin. The only time they test for regular illness is if they think it is strep throat.
It sounds like this is not the norm everywhere. That's interesting.
You're right. The norm in the cities I've been in seems to be for people to panic if they think that they have the flu, and to rush to the doctors. The local news media reports the number of confirmed flu cases, so there may be some pressure on the doctors to encourage patients to come in so that they can test them. A couple of years ago, when the h1n1 panic was at its peak, one of my kids had a urinary tract infection, and the doctors insisted on doing a nasal swab for h1n1 (which, of course, was negative).