This is not a political post. This is just a factual experience.
I was paying an expensive health insurance premium for basic healthcare. It was your basic plan. It was a little expensive, but I could choose my own doctor (PPO) and I loved her and saw her once a year for basic lady check up.
Then I got a letter that I had to switch plans because mine was being cancelled due to the new Healthcare law.
Fine. Cool. Whatever. I’ll opt in.
I researched plans based on my income level. It was a bit confusing because my income can fluctuate, but I went with a reasonable average and I chose something that seemed fine. It actually saved me $10/month and was a “better” plan! Only catch (I thought) was that it’s an HMO. Which means I have to choose in a specific network. Fine. I have so few doctor needs at this point in my life (thank goodness) that I didn’t think it was a big deal. When I was accepted into the plan, I researched doctors in my network who would be good for Primary Care doctors. They all got pretty terrible reviews, so I let my plan pick one for me. Again, I rarely go (thank goodness) so I didn’t see it as a big deal.
About two months after being covered by my new plan (and three premiums already paid), I had a minor medical issue that wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t a big deal, so I figured I’d check out my new doctor since office visits were cheap and just have him look me over. I’m going to use his real name because these are facts, not opinions, so people can hopefully learn from my experience.
I went to Dr. Mohammad Resvani on Motor Avenue in Los Angeles, CA. It seemed fine enough. I filled out a form and waited about 15-20 minutes before I was taken to my room. I wanted another maybe 10 before the doctor saw me. When he came in, here’s what happened:
He asked what was going on. I explained it to him. I also explained I had something similar before and what it was. I told him I thought it might be that thing again and mentioned it. He looked at me and said he had never heard of that thing. It’s a really common thing, so I was confused. Then I guess he figured it out. He then motioned for me to move from my chair onto the table. He asked me a couple more questions and started pretending to get out stuff to check me then his phone rang. He answered it. He turned his back to me and talked on the phone for a while. Probably around 3-5 minutes. I just sat there. Then he turned right back around, didn’t apologize or explain why he answered the phone mid-sentence and proceeded to put his stethoscope on top of my jacket and talk to me while I assume he was attempting to listen to my heart. The times I’ve been to my primary care doctor before, they put the stethoscope directly on my skin and have me quiet and breathe so they can actually hear my heart. Putting it on top of my jacket (which was on top of two more layers of clothing- shirt and bra) seemed ineffective. Especially since he continued to ask me questions while he did it. He then said he’d give me a prescription for what might be wrong with me and walked out. He told me he’d give me a referral to a specific doctor to help me with my needs. He said it could take a week or so.
Before I left, confused as to whether or not we were done since I had already paid my copay in advance, I stood at the attendantless office for a few minutes. He happen to walk by. I asked if I was done. He said they needed a urine sample. I didn’t know what that had to do with anything, but I said ok. And I went back to the office and waited for them to bring me a cup. Then I did it.
Fast forward- my problem seemed to take care of itself so I never used my prescription. I then get a bill from my health insurance that they only covered most of the mystery urine sample, so I’d need to cover the rest. So I paid $3 to pee in a cup.
I go to fill my regular monthly prescription a few days after that (which was prescribed by my wonderful former doctor) and it turns out my health insurance doesn’t cover it anymore. I have to use their mail-in service. I was unaware of this. The Walgreens lady and I had a long discussion about it. She was nice and she explained to me the situation. So I coughed up the $45 for that month while I figured out what to do. I tried calling my insurance provider but got in an endless loop, unable to actually get a hold of anyone. I tried looking online and couldn’t figure out how to do it. When I tried calling general customer service, I was told by the machine that the estimated wait time was 2 hours and 45 minutes. Of waiting. To talk to a customer service representative. Who would probably transfer me back over to the prescription people. For more waiting.
A couple weeks later, I see that there has been a claim denied twice by my health insurance. Lo and behold, I get a bill from Dr. Rezvani for $250 saying my insurance didn’t cover a basic office visit. Had I wanted to pay $250 out of pocket, I would have gone to my old wonderful doctor and she could have actually helped me and maybe not answered the phone mid-conversation. And maybe she’ll actually give me a referral when promised.
I have to now spend more of my own precious time and energy (not to mention likely money) to cover a very basic, very unsatisfactory office visit that is supposed to the easiest, most basic form of healthcare. And because March 31 is the last day to “Opt In” to the new healthcare system, it is nearly impossible to get through anywhere without insane wait times.
I tweeted about it. And to be fair, I got a response. It basically said “Sorry you’re having trouble! We’re here for you anytime.” And I asked if we could just fix this over Twitter, since that seemed to be the most efficient way of getting through to anyone. I did not get help on that front.
I’m an intelligent, healthy, 20-something. I’m willing to pay for healthcare- I was doing so before it was a federal mandate. I understand healthcare. I understand the internet. I’m ideal for this new system. But it’s deeply flawed. If I can’t even figure out how to navigate it- and I desperately want to- there is something really wrong here. To the point where I’m going to have to take dramatic measures to get change my coverage and go back to other options that make more sense for my situation.
It’s no wonder that everything about this is messed up. If I’m actively trying to do the “right” thing and “save money” and have “better health coverage” and I have to pay significantly more money, what happens to the people who don’t have the tech savvy or intelligence or education or even desire to learn that I do? What happens to them when they get big bills they thought were covered that they simply can’t pay? They’re screwed. That’s what. Which isn’t the intention of the system, but seems to currently be the outcome.
I’m paying $10 less per month that I was before for a coverage that doesn’t actually cover anything my older “more expensive” plan did. And on top of it all- I don’t need that much coverage. I just don’t want to have to pay out of pocket for a doctor to answer his phone while in the room with me not answering my health questions. Money is tight. I have to be smart with it. And this healthcare choice, so far, has not been a good financial investment for me.
I take care of myself. I constantly write blogs about happiness, health and fitness. I want to thrive. And I want to be healthy. And I want a reasonable heathcare arrangement that everyone can be satisfied with.
I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
That’s been my experience so far. I apologize for the tirade and the general lack of hilariousness in this post. But I needed to put it out there.
Now back to your regularly scheduled poop jokes.