So currently, I and my family are among the supposed lucky ones in our nation to have insurance, an HMO. You'd think that if anything was wrong with us, we'd have at our resources the best people available to solve the problems. And we'd be able to pay for those solutions because we have insurance.
[Big Angry Buzzer] Wrong!!!
So a family member of mine has had two different pain conditions for the longest time. And since I love this person so much, I've tried everything I can to figure out how to fix it or ease it or something.
With the first pain condition, we saw our primary care physician a few times (all at $25 a pop) and then we were referred to a neurologist. No offense to the good neurologists that I'm sure must exist somewhere in Atlanta, but the two different ones we visited for my family member SUCKED. They tried to tell us it was carpel tunnel syndrome (something I've seen first hand and KNEW wasn't it.) But NOOOOOO, the doctor knows everything and was so positive it was carpel tunnel that my already in-pain family member had to go through an extremely painful nerve induction test to find out that guess what??? It's not carpel tunnel.... something I told both doctors during the first visit... Total of primary care and specialist visit copays: over $200.
So basically, we paid these doctors to torture my family member with that damned nerve induction test and then tell us that they had no idea what was causing the problem, go see another specialist. At this point my family member gave up on the system and just learned to deal with the pain and loss of hand dexterity.
So lo and behold, over the last month, the other pain condition flared up, and my family member refused to go to the doctor because they didn't want to get their hopes up and have them shattered again. After it gets too painful, we agree to go to our primary doctor (a different one who happened to graduate from Yale School of Medicine). I thought to myself, okay this time it's going to be different.
As soon as the primary doctor examines my family member, she immediately refers him to a general surgeon because she thinks something is torn inside. $25.00 to find out this possible diagnosis. Two days later when we're able to get in to see the surgeon (and by now the pain is at a 10 on a 1 - 10 scale), and after a ten minute exam at 3:40 yesterday... and without sterile gloves even, the surgeon says sorry I can't help you, it's not the problem your doctor thought it was. So essentially, I paid $25 for this other doctor to hurt my family member even more during the probe of the painful area.
I walk back into the primary doctor's office yesterday around 4pm and demand the doctor find the cause of my family member's pain so they can get some relief. Doctor has no idea what to do other than tell us to go to the emergency room... Yay, we're going to the emergency room in the middle of a flu outbreak.
4:15, we walk into the emergency room door, sign in and after a 20 minute wait, are seen by the triage nurse. She tells us the rooms are all full but we're the next in line. 5:15 rolls around and they finally call us back to a room. And when we get into the room, that's when we have to pay the $50 copay for an ER visit. A doctor comes in and spends ten minutes doing the same kind of exam that surgeon did earlier in the day. Then he decides to order a CT and an ultrasound. Whew, I think. We're finally going to get an answer. But my family member is still in pain and finally around 8pm they come in and give him a shot of something for the pain.
Now keep in mind, my family member hasn't eaten anything since midnight because they thought they were going to have surgery that day. But eating is still not allowed because it might mess with the tests.
IT TAKES 3 1/2 HOURS FOR THEM TO TAKE HIM FOR TWO TESTS THAT LASTED 15 MINUTES A PIECE, INCLUDING TRAVEL TIME TO AND FROM THE TESTING AREA. Total time spent actually doing something: less than an hour.
We then have to wait for over another hour to get the test results back. Guess what?!?!?! Everything looks normal except for a teeny bit of extra fluid somewhere, but that fluid shouldn't be causing the pain because it's seen on both sides of the body and the pain is only on one side.
Bottom line, we paid people to poke and prod my family member, cause more pain, waste lots of time only for them to say we have to go to yet another specialist. We didn't walk out of the emergency room until after 11pm last night.
So for all these people who are screaming and scared about having to wait in lines for the boogeyman of socialized healthcare... WAKE UP PEOPLE, WE ALREADY ARE! And those of us with insurance are actually paying for the privilege of doing so.
$100 personal money spent and over 8 hours of our day wasted. (And that $100 may not seem like much to some people, but when you're laid off and trying to save every penny, that's way too much to have to spend for little to absolutely NO results) Speaking of results... our end result, a prescription for a pain med and a referral to another specialist who I doubt will be able to help us.
And guess what, my family member is so disgusted that if this next specialist can't figure it out, that's the end and they're going to stop trying to get it fixed.
Not only do I feel taken advantage of by the system, but I feel emotionally raped. We get our hopes up time and time again that someone's going to actually find a solution only to hear, Nope, we don't know, and ha ha... you had to pay us to tell you that.
Maybe I should start learning the words to Oh Canada... my Canadian friend tells me this would never have happened there.
My whole life, I've worked hard to tone down emotional reactions and be calm and rational. I don't pass the buck and I try to fix as much as I can and not try and throw blame around, but if I or my family member has caught one of the flu viruses after all the rest of this mess we had to deal with, I am so going to verbally throttle someone.
Last night was finally the straw that broke this long patient camel's back. I've tried to be good and do the right thing, and all I've gotten for it is wasted money and the horrific chance to see my family member clenching teeth through pain. Do you know how much it hurts me to see my loved one hurting—really hurting—and not be able to do a damned thing about it???
So I don't care who has to do what. Mr. President and Members of Congress, get off your collective asses, stop dilly-dallying around with lobbyists and special interests (corporate or otherwise), and actually do something for our substandard American Health Care system instead of talking about it all the time!!!