Thank you to all of you who wrote or called to offer your prayers, support and positive energy after Monday’s diagnosis. I am forever blessed by all the wonderful people in my life, from so many different facets, and your kind words have uplifted my spirit. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I alluded in my last post to my recent experiences with the healthcare system (and I use the word health”care” very loosely). Things have changed so dramatically from my days as a caretaker in the late 1990s when Ray was sick. Back then, we had healthcare facilities who really worked with us on things like payment. As long as I was paying something every month, they didn’t care. Copayments were a thing, but I never remember any really crazy expenses. We even had a patient advocate assigned to us who helped us navigate the system. She helped to pursue coverage for a Medicare facility that was not covered by our plan. Basically, she went to the Board, presented our case, and got the insurance company to pay for the long term care program Ray needed after his meningitis.
In those days, not all that long ago, the doctor made the decisions. We were never refused any test that was requested by the doctor, and we had the opportunity to go anywhere. There was no fighting with the insurance to get coverage when we moved his treatment to Cleveland.
But that was then, and this is now.
I am horrified every day by what our health care industry has become. Not just in my own experiences, but in the experiences of women that I encounter every day in my breast cancer Facebook groups — women who give up, tired of fighting, and not wanting to bankrupt their families.
With all of my recent tests, I have paid at least $100 out of pocket. (Of course, our plan year started on November 1st, so no deductibles were met). In the past, facilities would call ahead of time to pre-register me; now they call to advise me how much I will owe when I get there. For my biopsy, the out-of-pocket cost was $1,472. I’m one of the lucky ones… we can pay that. But how many people will walk away from that test, not as lucky? How many will forego groceries, or other medicines, or any other necessity to pay this bill? The system is broken. Healthcare is a for-profit industry and the richer you are, the better care you can obtain. I try not be political on this page, but this is something we all need to fight for. Shouldn’t healthcare be a right for everyone?
And, of course, the decision-making of the past has been removed from doctors and now rests firmly with the insurance companies. Given my history of cancer, my oncologist wanted me to have a PET scan. I waited 3 days to find out that my insurance would not approve it. So the test MY DOCTOR wants, is not allowed by the insurance company. So, instead, I need TWO tests… a CT scan and a bone scan. I can’t help but wonder the overall cost benefit of that, as well as the health impact on the patient. I now will require TWO exposures to radiation, instead of one. And the kicker is, if they find something on either of those two tests, THEN I will be required to have a PET scan. What a scam!! With the amount of radiation I have had over the years, I absolutely worry about the cumulative effects of radiation and having to have multiple tests both scares me and infuriates me.
My last comment on health care? The red tape is insane.
I get all my testing done at a local imaging place. I have used this place since the beginning of my health care journey in 2008. I used to pre-register by phone, walk in to the facility, check in within 30 seconds, sit for a few minutes, and then get called back for my test. This facility has since been bought out by a larger health care conglomerate. There is no pre-registration over the phone (just the call about cost). I now wait 10-20 minutes in line, just to get to the desk. It’s then another 20 minutes at the desk doing paperwork. Yep. Real, honest-to-goodness PAPERS! Piles of papers! Once I’m taken back to the testing room, I have to do more paperwork! And then I wait some more. For my biopsy, which took 10 minutes, tops, I was at the facility for 1:45. Why? I’m already in the system… I was just here last week… you guys are the ones who ordered the biopsy, why don’t you have the order… why all the paperwork? When I’m already stressed, there’s nothing more likely to push me over the edge than red tape and inefficiencies!
Rant over. It’s been a frustrating few weeks, with more frustration to come, I’m sure. Today I will have another ultrasound (full chest wall, since they only looked at one specific spot last time). Tomorrow is my bone scan. And Tuesday is my CT scan. After that, I will wait a week before meeting with my oncologist to discuss results and game plan. Yep… my appointment is the day before Thanksgiving!
Let’s pray we have a lot to be thankful for!
IMDb: Broken (2012)