You Only Get One Chance

I showed up for my doctor’s appointment today and the office staff, who I can only describe as idiotically incompetent, something I don’t normally say about this particular office, waited about ten minutes before informing me that my insurance had been terminated. To say I was outraged is a vast understatement.

When they ask you to confirm a week prior to your appointment THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO RUN YOUR INSURANCE. Every office is supposed to do this to avoid people showing up for appointments without coverage. Apparently, they’re too fucking lazy to do their jobs. Instead of doing their due diligence, they get me up early on a Friday morning, I arrive on time, and I get handed a huge pile of horse shit shortly after trying to gear up to be seen. I stepped out to find out what was going on because you don’t have private conversations in a waiting room.

I called my insurance company and they immediately passed the buck, claiming it “wasn’t their fault and they didn’t know anything”, thus leaving me to call the “parent company”. After being on hold for nearly twenty minutes, “the parent” made claims that I was notified of termination in March. I didn’t even have my insurance for a full two months in March, and I’d know if I had received a letter requesting information. I open everything they send me because if they need something, I make sure to handle it right away. I can’t afford to be without coverage. They told me they’re “missing a document”, but the document in question is one I provided them with before I was approved for insurance in the first place. How did it suddenly “go missing”? How is it that they waited until July 29th to cancel me?! They told me they sent me a letter on July 14th to notify me that they needed this document by the 28th. I would know if I’d received such a letter, but I didn’t. I have only received a few pieces of mail in the past few weeks and none of it was from them. The only thing I have received from them recently involved open enrollment for this Fall; which gives me the opportunity to change the secondary company and try something new out for three months, and either keep it after that for a full year or switch back to the current “child company”. Why would you send that to me if you were going to terminate me? It makes no sense.

I called them at the end of June to ask a question and I was assured that I was active with zero issues regarding my insurance. That would have been a good time to say “Hey, did you get the letter we sent you in March?”, or at least one would think so. I’ve spoken with the “child company” a handful of times and not once was this mentioned to me. Instead, the “parent” told me I did not have to do anything until the end of my first insured year when they ask you to verify your address and other information for the umpteenth time, “to keep everything current”. Their words, not mine. I don’t know about you, but I call and change my address with companies if need be, I don’t wait until they ask me to verify.

Being told “Please write a letter verifying your address and fax it to us immediately.” pissed me off because I missed out on two appointments I’ve had planned for the past month as a result of this idiocy. Even better, they told me to call them Monday (I’ve already faxed them the document.) to “make sure they got the fax”. These are the same people who, for months, told me they were handling my application and in the end, I was forced to re-apply because they’d somehow “only gotten one page” of a twenty plus page fax. I find this very hard to believe after being told “You’re in the system, we just haven’t processed you yet.”. I was told it would take 48 hours for the fax to be processed, but up to two weeks for me to be reinstated. I nearly lost it. I have appointments pending this month and I NEED to be seen. I cannot imagine going to the ER, something I had planned on doing due to my pain escalating, and being told I was not covered. I’m so outraged, and yet I am told this “happens all the time”. How is this acceptable? If I don’t receive notification of something, then I cannot provide you with a ridiculous document I’ve already given you.

The doctor’s office tried to get me to sign a waiver to be seen, claiming my insurance would “back date” me. My insurance company said “We don’t do that; don’t sign anything.” The woman in the office was asked twice how much one appointment was without insurance, just to get in and be seen, and she actually said “$800.” Did your jaw just hit the floor? She can’t possibly know what she’s talking about because that is so beyond unrealistic, it’s not even funny. Who the hell made up such nonsense? That she repeated it with a straight face more than once was truly appalling. Why can’t you just say “I honestly don’t know.”? Why lie and claim it’s “high because it’s billed through the hospital”? Trust me, that is NOT what you bill the insurance company and if you do, that is laughable because you’re probably lucky to get $80 from them. I know how this shit works.

The main reason I was there was to meet a new doctor and get medication. After dealing with the insurance and feeling like an absolute moron for not canceling when it’s genuinely what I wanted to do in the first place, the doctor calls me into her office, ostensibly to discuss what she is going to do, etc. It went from “I’ll give you a one month supply of your medicine.” to “I can’t prescribe that.” She was rude, dismissive, judgmental, and then tried to back-track with me and pretend to be nice after she’d already judged me for medication I’ve taken for fourteen years and insulted my intelligence. For the record, I hadn’t said a word to her before she started in on me. When I give you direct eye contact and it’s an icy look, and I’m being deadly silent, I am giving you the opportunity not to dig yourself a deeper hole. She kept digging. I immediately knew she was NOT going to work out. I may have to see her in a month, just to be prescribed the medicine, but I’ve already asked someone else in her office to “find me another doctor”, and I explained why in the shortest way possible.

My former doctor hasn’t actually left, which did not shock me at all. His name kept coming up in conversations to me and I nearly walked into his office and left him a note about the Oxford English dictionary definition of “I’m leaving on July 7th.” (I’m legitimately going to offer to pack his office for him. He is WAY too good for that place.). I haven’t spoken to him in a month, so he’ll know something is wrong if I’m calling. I both want to call and don’t want to, because I’m really unsure what he can do at this point. I am not sure what he was thinking when he recommended her, saying she was “really warm and caring” (I couldn’t warm up to this woman if we were cremated together. I can’t wait to hear his reaction when I tell him that. He knows me well enough to know I am not joking around.), but I hope to G-d he’s got someone else in mind because I will NOT tolerate someone like her ever again. Her behavior is the precise reason I started seeing male doctors almost exclusively. I don’t need bullshit from a doctor simply because she’s female. I’m a woman, too, but I don’t have anything to prove simply because I’m female.

I walked out of her office politely, but being told to “call my primary care physician” for medicine she was too afraid to prescribe pissed me off. It wasn’t merely what she said, it was the way she said it and how disrespectful she was overall. The one thing my PCP did do right is prescribe it without argument. I was shocked. I can make a month’s supply last about six weeks or so, but I shouldn’t have to, and that’s the point. This doctor was beyond rude and then tried to pretend like she was a good person. That sort of behavior doesn’t fly with me. This is a medication easily called into my pharmacy, so it’s not a serious drug (not in my eyes, any way), it’s just not prescribed as regularly as it once was. My former doctor didn’t have enough experience with it to prescribe it or to try tapering me off of it because he wasn’t going to be there much longer, so we simply discussed my taking a lower dose of it whenever possible, and I have done that. I take it as needed, but I don’t take the entire prescribed amount each day.

Walking out angry from a maybe five-minute conversation is not a good first impression to make on ANY patient. Being rude, dismissive, condescending, refusing to listen and actually hear me, and being passive-aggressive are not qualities one wants in a doctor. You only get one chance with me. There is no way I can have a working relationship with someone like that. And sadly, I knew I didn’t like her the second I saw her. My intuition screamed “That’s the new doctor. Get out while you can!” You aren’t going to get anywhere with me using the “bitch card”. If that’s how you want to make your first impression, so be it, but I do not have to allow you to be a treating physician in MY life.

Hopefully this gets straightened out soon and I can move on to a different doctor who isn’t a rude snit. I am fine going elsewhere if they don’t have someone who can handle themselves in a professional manner.

I know a lot of people who only want to deal with female doctors, and by all means, have at it. I’m a girl’s girl to the core, but my experience with most female doctors has been horrible. This one was exactly how I thought she’d be, and that’s sad. I had zero hope for her when I made the appointment to begin with, and now, I am sorry I didn’t push harder for someone else.

Ultimately I will do what I have to do to take care of myself and prioritize MY health, but I’m not going to do it with anyone who cannot be respectful of me. Note to self: Listen to your intuition, and don’t ever take shit from someone simply because they’re a doctor.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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