Monday, March 18, 2013

A Rant About Healthcare

You know what's wrong with healthcare in America today?  Yeah, I know you know exactly what the problem is.  Patient care is beside the point.  Consider my day:

Last week, I tried a new primary care doctor based on recommendations I got from some people I don't know well (my beloved previous doctor is now hundreds of miles away).  The new doctor is okay, but not great.  When I needed referrals, I got names and numbers handwritten on slips of paper, and not appointments arranged for me.  Remember when doctors used to set it all up for you?

When I checked the online reviews for one of the referrals, they were awful.  I mean, AWFUL.  The doctor had told me in a chipper voice that the office can usually see you within a week.  Um, there's a reason for that, when every other specialist in the area is booked two months out.

So, I did my own research and found a very good practice to try instead of the referral (my insurance doesn't need a referral, anyway), and called them at 11:30 this morning.  At which point, their answering service took my call.  Why, you ask, was the answering service handling their calls at 11:30 on a Monday morning?  "They're at lunch.  They won't be back taking their calls until 12:30 or 1."  Okay, so at 11:30 in the morning, they are at LUNCH, and then the hour that they will return is as yet undetermined?

When I finally got a real live human to answer the telephone after they had finally returned from their morning lunch, she informed me that if I wanted to see a nurse practictioner, they could see me right away, but if I wanted one of the doctors, it would be MAY before they could see me.  I mean, really?  My husband needs an appointment, too, and he's going to need some minor surgery on his face, so I sighed, booked him with a doctor in May, then went with the nurse practictioner for my own appointment.

Then I tried to book my daughter's 1 year well-child appointment/vaccinations.  Once again, I was offered MAY.  I was told that well child visits are being booked this far out for our (very good) pediatrician, who is starting to cut back on his hours (by my last count, he is over 70).  When I asked if I could at least arrange for her vaccinations, I was told that I would have to leave a message for the nurse, who would bring my daughter's file to the doctor to see if that was okay.  WTF?!   She then tried to patch me through so I could leave a message.  I stopped her, and made the well child visit before she hung up on me.  She then hung up on me before I could be transferred to leave the message about the vaccinations.  I had to then call back again.

Then, I tried to make a doctor's appointment for my husband (different specialist), only to find that while this doctor was indeed taking new patients, he was only taking new patients who had been referred to him.   Gah.

And after all of that, I had an eye exam, which ended up taking over 2.5 hours because there were problems.   The cherry on the whipped cream of this crap sundae is that the person at the optician's office also might have advised me on how to defraud my health insurance.  I had NO IDEA why our system is such a disaster.

To ease my pain, I went to one of those walk-in massage places that offers fully-clothed massages on the spot, and got 20 minutes of accupressure ($20!) from an ancient Asian man who had hands like vices.  I am now convinced that the pleasure in accupressure is how good you feel after, when they are no longer torturing you.  It makes whatever pain you were in before feel great in comparison.  I am hoping that my back feels better tomorrow, because at this point, I am less than thrilled with Western medicine.


Lollipop Goldstein said...

Oy... this reminds me that I have to make my annual appointment which I keep putting off because... this is what it's like to go to the doctor.

Kylie said...

oh wow. suddenly grateful for the system I have- which has its own bucket of issues, but has always gotten me appointements easily.
That said, you have confirmed a long held suspicion of mine about cutomer service- that level of terrible service may in part be due to the fact that you ultimately don't pay for the service- the insurance company does- so you tolerate things that otherwise would result in finding someone else- or are locked in to certain service providers.
I have my own rants abouts the crap ness of a system where my (private) insurance pays only 1/3 of dentist bills but 100% of optometry and glasses. It's because it is easier to swtich optometrists, so they structure the prices to ensure there is no additional cost- but dentists don't have that.