Healthcare Saga Continues…

When we arrived home from our Streetcar ride this afternoon, Will checked the mailbox and pulled out letters from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.  Seeing those letters was as exciting and nerve-wracking as waiting for a college acceptance letter, and the fact that there were TWO letters… one address to me and one addressed to Paul… made my stomach sink.  I tried to mentally prepare myself for bad news.

But surprise!  It wasn’t the bad news I was anticipating!

We haven’t been denied anything, yet.  We just have to track down 70 physicians, pull them away from their incredibly busy demands of trying to save to world, and get each of them to write down why they did a silly thing like write us a prescription.  The folks at BCBS found out that we had some scripts filled over the course of the last 30 years and want a separate form filled out for each script by the doctor who prescribed it.  The forms have the icy-official tone similar to those of warrants and audits, subtly letting you know that they have more information about you than you might have expected: “We understand that you have (fill in the blank) ACNE.  Please answer the following questions below about your (fill in the blank) ACNE.”   Others are specific to a prescribed drug.  “We understand the you have been prescribed the drug (fill in the blank) MEFLOQUINE.  Please answer the following questions about your (fill in the blank) MALARIA.”  What? When did Paul have malaria?  (Do they not know that the same drugs that treat some forms of malaria are also the same ones you take to prevent getting it?)

The good news is that they couldn’t find any medical reason to deny us flat out, so the new strategy is to bankrupt us out of being able to afford the policy by taking so much darn time to complete the process that we get fired from our jobs.  That, and with the timing of the letters, there is little chance of the policy being approved by the August 1st start-date we requested.  One more month of COBRA?  Ouch.

In the meantime, I continue to lose hair.

On a great suggestion, I called up a local acupuncturist who is also a Medical Doctor.  She listened to my symptoms and agreed it sounded a lot like an under-active thyroid, but will not touch me until I’ve had appropriate blood work.  Because she is only practicing Chinese medicine currently, she will not write any orders for tests — I have to find these elsewhere.  I called my primary care doctor, whom I went to last March because I thought I was bleeding myself anemic, to inquire about the possibility of going over my previous tests and getting orders for another.  The nurse explained that she is not allowed to discuss my record and that the doctor will not discuss any procedure, test, or exam (previous or otherwise) without an appointment.

A back-up plan came up out of the blue: offers from an out-of-state friend to FAX in a script for the blood work.  Unfortunately, the fax didn’t completely come through, so we’re working on getting this right.

Other ideas include: a certain doctor at the Tulane Student Health Center Downtown who has a reputation for “working” with students with insurance issues, and/or, going and standing in line at 6am for the Free Health Clinic.  This is the kind of service I’m more accustomed to working for or referring to — and now I may be a client?!  It makes me feel very guilty, as someone who can (and is trying to) pay for health care.

If our family, which is supported by a good income and run by competent, well-educated adults, with contacts in and around the health professions, cannot manage to secure a quality health care package… then how do others in more trying circumstances fair?