Thursday, February 19, 2009

Can I gripe?

For just a minute?

I HATE the healthcare system in this country. It is expensive, difficult to navigate, and sloooww. While I was unemployed, I had the cheapest insurance I could find that would still provide semi-decent coverage (although not maternity care, which would have been a disaster had I accidentally gotten pregnant). It cost me $150/month and still did not cover the lab work that I was required to get as part of my physical to substitute teach. What?? I've told so many people that it's like you pay for health insurance just to have the privilege to go to the doctor and pay him/her.

Last month, I called to schedule my yearly exam with an ob-gyn. The earliest I could get in was mid-March. That would be fine, except my birth control prescription is up in Feburary. I called the doctor I had seen for my physical in September (she's a family practice doctor and a gynecologist) to see if she could write me a one-month prescription just to tide me over. (I can't go in to see her because she's not on my new insurance that I have now through work.) Over a day after explaining my whole situation to her nurse, I finally got a "no" response. Here's how the conversation went:
---Dr. _____ says she can't write you the prescription because you need to come in for your yearly exam.
---Uh, yeah, that's the problem. I can't get into see this new doctor for another month.
---Well, Dr. ____ says if you won't come in to see her, she can't write you the prescription.
---Sure, I get that, but the thing is, I can't come in because she's not on my insurance any more.
---Well, then she can't help you.
---What do you suggest I do?
---Call the doctor who originally wrote you the prescription (in Texas).
---Okay, I just thought it would be better to have the doctor who's seen me most recently and actually lives in this state write it.
---Nope. She can't unless you make an appointment with her.
---(Big sigh) Thanks. Bye.

Really? It's not like I'm asking for some kind of prescription sedative or narcotic! Come on a sister out!

Similar situations to this have played out so many times. If you ever move, it is so hard to get in to see a doctor. You have to wait until they have a special "new patient" appointment. So if you wait until you're sick, you're out of luck. But if you go just to "get established," you still have to pay your co-pay (which can be fairly high) for basically nothing.

The sad thing is, I'm one of the lucky people. I actually have health insurance. What about people who don't? If you don't have insurance through your job, it's extremely expensive to get it on your own. I can see how a lot of families simply can't afford it. It's ridiculous. And I'm not trying to bash doctors or even health insurance companies. The whole system is just a huge mess. Is there any solution? The only one I can think of is to marry a doctor, and, alas, it's too late for me. :)

UPDATE: (Friday morning) After a tearful call to the doctor's office in Abilene (in which the somewhat rude receptionist informed me that the doctor could not extend my prescription unless I made an appointment to see him...okay, sure, I'll drive 15 hours!), I called the new doctor I am going to see in March. Her extremely friendly nurse took care of me, and I should have my prescription tomorrow. Crisis averted! I am so thankful for kind receptionists and nurses. In my experience, they seem to be so rare. I know they have stressful jobs, but it's really hard when you're already stressed out, and they treat you like you're an idiot. (Well, okay, maybe her perception of me was somewhat colored by the fact that I almost immediately started crying. I know it shouldn't have been that big of deal, but I just couldn't hold it together.) My doctor in Abilene was SOO great, and I know if I could have just talked to him, he would have done everything he could to help me. Unfortunately, his receptionist didn't seem to share his compassion. Anyway, my rant is now officially over. Next time, I will be back to posting about love, food, and other happy things.


Brenton and Jenna Lane said...

gripe on girl... gripe on!!!

Jamie, Jenn, Sean and Baby Lance said...

Oh girl... been there, had that situation. Glad it all worked out!

Laura said...

I had a very similar experience with my birth control perscription running out during the time I was switching health insurance providers from ACU to the city's insurance. Thankfully, my doctor back home let me have one more month without making an appointment. It is frustrating and I cried several times about it too. But, like you said, at least we have insurance. Glad to see everything is ok now :)

Sallie said...

Dad and I have been sweating out the end to this dilemma--did she get the pills or not?!!