A while back I wrote the article " Dr. No " chronicling a friend's mistreatment at the hands of the folks that run the American healthcare system. A bit more recently I wrote the article Paul Stanner 1 Grim Reaper 0 chronicling my experiences with the folks that run the American healthcare system as they saved my life from a potentially deadly affliction. Today's article is a follow up on my post near fatal experience .
Before I get into my post life threatening crisis treatment let me give you a bit of brief background on how I got into this mess. Should you require more information on my healthcare adventures to better understand my frustration with our American system click on the link above pertaining to my battle with The Grim Reaper. On the day after Thanksgiving I fell very ill. I have not been to a doctor in 25 years so for me to ask to be taken to the hospital you can rest assured that I knew I was seriously ill. I was taken to St. Luke's emergency department. The doctors told me that if I had waited until morning to come in I would not have survived the night. My blood pressure was 90 / 63. I was suffering from dangerously low blood pressure , severe dehydration and a urinary tract infection none of which I knew I had or had any idea of how I'd gotten. I was stabilized and brought to the I.C.U. I was in the ICU for 3 days before I started showing signs of improvement. Many tests were done. After about 5 days I started getting the bad news. I was diabetic , I was born with one kidney , I had a huge diverticula in my bladder , I had high and low blood pressure at the same time and I had nodes on my lungs and a mass on my one kidney both of which turned out to be non - malignant but of serious concern nonetheless. After nine days six of which were spent in the hospital I was released and sent home with a treatment plan and a $ 49,000 dollar bill none of which I can pay because I don't have health insurance. I was given a primary doctor and appointments with two specialists to treat my problems.
Not to worry dear readers the point of this article will be apparent in due course but first I must stipulate a few things. As follows:
1. In a life threatening situation the American healthcare system is a first rate world class system , however in all other situations it is extremely lacking. Many fundamental changes need to be made.
2. The Doctors , Nurses and Technicians that practice their skills within this system in a hospital environment do so with the utmost professionalism , compassion and ethics however the folks that administer the system are challenged to the max in all of those areas. In short the medical practices of hospitals are excellent but the business practices of hospitals are abysmal.
3. The Doctors , Nurses and Technicians that practice their skills outside of the hospital environment do not even come close to the same professionalism , compassion and ethical behavior as those that practice within the hospital environment.
There will be a quiz on this so make sure you can tell me why this situation I'm in is not the way to run a healthcare system. Also be prepared to offer some solutions.
I was told to make an appointment as soon as I felt a bit better upon my release. I waited about four days and called for an appointment with the Primary Care Doctor they recommended. Now keep in mind that they already know I don't have insurance. I reminded the lady of this fact and asked her how much the Doctor visit will cost. " $ 365.00 " came the reply. " May I request that the first appointment be a free consultation so that I can make payment arrangements and discuss what his treatment plan is for me " I inquire. Dr. Shall Remain Nameless will not accept any new patients without insurance that can't pay the bill in it's entirety at the time of service " came the reply. " I will not be needing Dr. SRN's service " I inform them. Doctor SRN also will not give me another prescription for my high blood pressure meds which I only have a one month supply of . Did you fully understand that guys? $ 365.00 for an office visit BEFORE he does anything. All other treatments and services will be extra. He also will NOT even write me new prescriptions unless I pay him $ 365.00 .This clown is not a candidate for the Dr. Albert Schweitzer award.
I call the diabetes Nurse that helped treat me when I was in the hospital and ask him what I should do about this. He recommends a clinic that is income based. Following his advice I make an appointment with the stipulation that the first one is to be no charge so I can learn about their payment arrangements and other fees. Their requested payment to see the Doctor is reasonable enough that I can pay it out of pocket , however their fees for other services are so intricate and have so many exclusions that I will not be using them since at this point all I need is a Doctor that will take my blood pressure , monitor my diabetes and write my prescriptions so I go ahead and make the next appointment. I may be from Idaho but I'm no rube. I'm beginning to catch on to this medical con game. They won't however write my prescriptions until I actually speak to a Doctor at my next appointment. Can you all guess what else I must do to get my prescriptions written? That's right I must pay for the Doctors services. I'm going to assume here that you all know that stroke is a real danger to those of us afflicted with high blood pressure. I wonder what a lawyer would say upon a malpractice consultation should I become incapacitated because of a stroke as a result of these medical geniuses refusing to write me a prescription. I'm also going to assume that you all know that stress , especially unnecessary stress , seriously complicates diabetes. I guess it's in the hands of The Lord now.
My next step on this Odyssey Of Medical Inanity is to call the Urology clinic I was referred to. I do that explaining to them that I have no insurance and that any and all services that are provided on that day will have to be reasonable enough that I can pay out of pocket. I give them a figure and they agree. Off I go to the appointment. Upon my exam they come up with two procedures that they strongly urge me to have. I force them to tell me how much they will cost me. They are not pleased with me for that at all since it means a little more work for them. Don't you all find it more than a bit curious and suspicious that medical care is the one commodity available in the American market that nobody seems to be able to tell you the cost of before you buy it?The figure is $ 250.00 which is way more than I want to pay but I have it so I agree just to get these tests out of the way. It comes time to leave and they present me with a bill for far more than the agreed to amount. I tell them that I made prior arrangements with their financial department and refuse to pay one cent more than what I agreed to. They consult their financial department and I'm told to go speak to a certain lady. This lady turns out to be the most reasonable lady I've spoken to yet in this little adventure. She actually offers me a substantial discount if I'll pay cash right there or put the whole amount on my credit card. I agree and pay $ 102.00. I take my better half to lunch with a small piece of the money I've saved. Apparently they can be reasonable if you catch the right person that can make the decision to be so. They also want me to have a procedure that they say I need but is far too expensive to me at the moment even with a substantial discount. They agree that since it can wait that I can try to get insurance and call them back and schedule it when I do. Unfortunately I forgot to ask them to fill my prescriptions. Since that clinic is very far from my home I decide to explore other options. After doing so I'm unable to come up with one. I bite the bullet and call the Urology clinic back . It's been about three weeks since they've seen me but they know me instantly. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. lol I explain the situation and ask for their help. I'm promptly refused. The reason I'm given is that they won't give me the urinary tract medication I need because , you guessed it , I won't consent to the $ 1, 000 procedure they want me to have. They won't give me the blood pressure medication because " they don't treat high blood pressure ". Do I need to remind you all here that stroke is a very distinct possibility if I don't get this medication? Do I need to remind any of you that stress is a strong mitigating factor in whether my diabetes gets better.
Next at bat is The Pulmonary Clinic to deal with my lung problems. Having gotten wise to this little medical shell game these " professionals " are running I tell them in no uncertain terms what I can and can't do and inform them that hopefully I will have insurance after Feb. 1 , 2014 They make me an appointment for Feb. 4 , 2014. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
My most pressing problem at the moment is how to get these two very important prescriptions filled before I have a stroke or go into diabetic shock. Nobody can tell me how to do that. Not the hospital , not any of the so called " medical professionals " involved in my care , not any of my friends , FREAKING NOBODY !!! Apparently there is no legal body that can force these folks to act. Doesn't that just about say all you need to know about our healthcare system? I'm beginning to wish that The Grim Reaper had won this battle.Thank God a prescription for insulin is not required.
In closing I would like to assure you all of three things.
1. I will be getting Obamacare for those rare times that I will need to avail myself of the services of the existing heathcare system.
2. I will be switching to an all organic herbal and hopefully non prescription " drugs " regimen immediately in an effort to keep my visits to these medical bandits at an absolute minimum. I made an appointment with Dr. Wang who is a Dr. Of Traditional Chinese Medicine tomorrow. I'll keep you posted on my interactions with him and on my opinions of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
3. When it comes time to pay my bill of $ 49,000 for this medical nightmare I'm going to show these folks all the same consideration that they showed me in my time of need. They can take what I give them when I give it to them and like it or not I really don't care which. Should it never get paid off I really don't give a damn. If they don't like it they can just simply kiss my ass.