Last week I had a very stressful experience with the current state of our health care system.
Under my current health coverage, I can only make appointments to visit one primary doctor. If I want to see a specialist, or want to make some other appointment with a different doctor, my primary doctor has to have me in for an appointment, write me a referral, and wait for a letter that states whether or not my insurance has been approved and if I’m able to make an appointment with that the desired physician. Then I can contact the office of that specialist, and set an appointment time. It takes about 2-3 weeks for me to even get an appointment with my primary doctor. It then takes 2-3 weeks before any kind of approval notice goes through. Then it takes another 2-3 weeks before there is an opening for an appointment with that desired physician. All in all, from the day I contacted my primary doctor telling them I wanted to see an allergy specialist to the day I could get an appointment, it was already just shy of two months. Let’s take a minute to acknowledge how ridiculous that already is. OK.
I have a lot of allergies. This allergy specialist is one that I’ve already had a history with. I’ve been in their offices off and on over the course of a year or two. They know who I am. I was previously able to visit them when I was under my parents health coverage, but in the last year or two of my own coverage, they wouldn’t accept my insurance. I mentioned this to my primary doctor when we was looking up specialists that might accept me, but he put the request in for them anyway. I was surprised and glad to hear that I was actually approved, with an official letter of notice, and that I could call them and make an appointment. So I did. I had to wait a few weeks for it, but it was in the books. The day came, and I drove about 30 minutes to get there. I went up to the reception desk to sign in, and they asked if my insurance had changed since my last visit. It did, so I gave them my new card and my approval letter.
Then they said to me, “Sorry, we actually don’t take this insurance.”
“What do you mean? You sent me an approval letter right here.”
“Well, somebody made a mistake. We take that provider, but not through that program. They’ve made this mistake a couple times and we’ve been in touch with them to fix it, but we actually can’t see you today.”
“But you approved me already.”
Sorry, somebody made a mistake.”
“Well, what would an out-of-pocket fee be for a visit then?”
“We actually can’t even do that for you. Unfortunately you just can’t be seen here anymore, unless you change your insurance.”
READ: We won’t make enough money from seeing you today, so you need to go somewhere else. We sometimes see people through your insurance provider, but only when they pay us more. They won’t pay us enough for you to be here.
Internal monologue: “But I played your game, I made all the appointments, I waited, I was approved, your office spoke with me and made an appointment, I waited, I drove out here, I’m here.”
“You can call your insurance company and speak with them. Maybe you’ll have to get a different referral.”
So I called them.
They told me, “Sorry about the mistake, sir. You’ll have to contact your primary doctor and ask for another referral.”
“You can’t put the request right now?”
“No, it has to come from the doctor.”
“You can’t contact their office for me?”
“No sir, you have to.”
I didn’t realize until a fews days later how even though I had been really upset at the staff and the people I spoke with about my problem, it’s wasn’t even their fault. They weren’t personally apposed to me coming in because they would loose money – it’s an entire system that’s in place that keeps things moving in this manner. That receptionist is probably making $10-15 an hour, (whether or not I’m given an appointment) with their own boss telling them, “This is what you have to tell them. These are the rules. We can’t change them, no exceptions.” They probably don’t want to be denying people coverage, or turning people away from appointments, but they don’t have a choice either. That’s just how the system is set up, and they’re coming in to work to support themselves, and maybe their own family. I know people that work for health care providers that don’t even get health coverage from that corporation. What’s that about?
Money. Everything is almost always about money.
Here’s a confession of mine – I have never voted in my life. I’ve never ever registered to vote. I don’t know why exactly. I never felt inclined to, or maybe nobody else in my household had voted or ever talked about it, or I don’t think that my own opinions and thoughts would matter in the big picture, against all the other votes. Even if I felt strongly about something I’d figure, “Well, most of the other people won’t see it that way, so it won’t make a huge difference if I act on it or not.”
One thing to take away from the Bernie campaign is that if enough people get together and speak out against something, it WILL have an impact. At the very least, it will raise awareness and bring attention to an issue. My experience from that day was small. I’m sure it pales in comparison to the struggles that other people and families face every day, but it was a glimpse into the way the healthcare system disguises its’ corruption. I realize it may be too late for some of you to register and vote in the primary (and local) elections this Tuesday, June 7th, but I urge you to start thinking about the big picture and how the issues will effect not just “other, random people you don’t know”, but you personally. There’s still plenty of time to get registered and informed before the presidential election in November, and plenty of time to continue to bring attention and awareness to the big issues, healthcare being just one of the many. I’m still figuring things out, myself.
You can register to vote online, in just seconds!