My Doctor Says

Today I had my first visit with my new gatekeeper primary care doctor.  This new insurance is good because it accepts pre-existing conditions, I just wish I would have known it was an HMO!

I’ve been seeing my pain doctor, rheumatologist, and urologist for over 9 months.  This was after much research and frustration to find doctors that were knowledgeable and could help me.  We’ve just begun to get the symptoms under control!  Last month I had scheduled an appointment with my pain doctor for the 18th at 7:30a.  Last Friday was the first I’d heard that I needed to have a referral, if I didn’t get one, I wouldn’t be seen and the appointment would be canceled.  Needless to say I felt very nervous.  I needed to keep this appointment!  I called the insurance to find out who I was assigned to.  After many call transfers and much holding time, I found out who my new doctor would be.  I called them immediately.  The soonest they could schedule an appointment was today at 8:30a.  This was fine; it gave me plenty of time to get the referral sent.  A whole day!  I was relieved and optimistic that everything would be fine.

I went to the HMO appointment and visited with the doctor.  He was quite kind, yet he didn’t know anything about Interstitial Cystitis.  He was happy to approve the visit with the urologist, however he was concerned about the pain medication I’m on (why don’t any of these doctors want me to control my pain?!?) and wasn’t sure about the pain doctor.  I explained quite extensively how intense and constant the pain is, as well as what I do to control the pain; the pain medication, anti depressants, sleeping aids, bladder installations and catheterization.  In the end he agreed to let me see the pain doc.  Hooray!  Half my task complete, right?  On my way out I wanted to be sure they sent the referral within the time limits set by my pain doc (4:00p today) so I spoke to the woman in charge of “stat” referrals.  I stressed how I needed the referral to be sent immediately or they would cancel my appointment.  She stated that it would be sent today.  I pressed about the time frame, she repeated that it would be fine and would be sent sometime today.  I left hesitantly, asking her to call me when it was sent so I could verify receipt.  “I’ll do my best to remember,” she replied.

I had to take oldest daughter to the doctor after my appointment, so I didn’t have time to argue.  I got home at about 12:30p.  As soon as I got home I called the pain doctor; the referral hadn’t been received.  I started to feel nervous, but had faith that it was still being worked on and would be sent soon.

Sidenote: the referring doctor and pain doc are in the same building, one on the first floor the other on the third – this should be easy!

I called the HMO again after the lunch hour.  I was placed on hold for ten minutes, then the woman stated she was doing the best she could.  I explained quite fervently that I have to have this appointment or I won’t have medication for a month.  The pain doc wouldn’t be able to reschedule me before April 18th.  This hateful woman said she had to go to lunch and would work on it when she returned.

Almost immediately after the call ended, the pain doctor’s office called.  “Where is the referral?” they asked.  “We have to have it by 4:00p today or your appointment is canceled.”  I began feeling very impatient and nervous.  Panic attack ensued.  I gave the number to reach the referral keeper to the pain doc’s referral receiver thinking that she could grease the wheels for me.  The receiver called and spoke to the offensive woman and was told the same thing, it would be sent sometime today after lunch.

I called the HMO once every hour after that, only to be told “I’m working on it.  Relax.”  Finally at 3:30p I stated I would be at their office in ten minutes to wait for the referral and hand deliver it myself.  I was placed on hold for 22 minutes.  I vacillated while on hold.  If I hang up and it’s been sent, it’s a wasted trip; if they didn’t send it and the office is closed by the time I arrive (they close the doors to patients at 4:00p) I’m just as screwed.  I finally gave up and disconnected the call.  I called the pain center in a straight panic.  I convinced the referral receiver to stay late at work to get my fax.  Then I called the HMO again.  This time I was furious.  After all, I have a chronic condition that has to be treated monthly.  The odious woman placed me on hold again.  After fifteen minutes, she picked up the phone and said,  “It’s done.  Goodbye.”  I didn’t even mind that she hung up on me.  It was finished!

One more phone call to the pain center, they received the all important referral in all it’s glory!  It was victory with a sense of disgust.  When I get stressed out, my IC flares.  On top of the current flare, I was ready to staple my face to floor to distract me from the pain in my bladder.  What asshats!  Oh well, at least I get to have my pain meds refilled tomorrow.

I hate HMO’s!

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~ by blanketgirl on March 17, 2009.

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