*Here is me blowing off steam after wasting hours for a task that ought to take 6 minutes. I am relieving feelings of frustration, not intending to worry anyone or stir sympathies.
So, I'm sick. Respiratory something or other. Bronchitis, pneumonia, whooping cough....something. No one knows, but I've been coughing uncontrollably since late August. Generally healthy as a horse, I never go to doctors because ever since the great health care reform of the 1990s which gave us our HMO/PPO system, it generally takes longer to get a referral to the doctor you actually need to see than it does to just stick it out and get well on your own.
But this time, exhausted from coughing and the Jewish hypochondriac side of my gene pool having been sloshed awake, I broke down and saw someone. Did the antibiotic thing, got an inhaler to help with uncontrollable spasms of coughing. Yesterday I went again since I'm not really better. Stronger antibiotics, two other drugs, and a chest x-ray were prescribed and therein lies the tale.
The office referred me to a local lab for the x-ray. Mr. W. reminded me to call and check they take our insurance (which is top of the line -- Mr. W. works for Congress and this is a choice from the menu of the Congressional exchange.) Wait a LONG time on the phone queue to find out No, they do not.
Call the doctor's office. Wait a LONG time on the phone queue to ask them to please refer me to another lab, one that takes my insurance. Okay, it's faxed over: go!
2nd lab calls as I'm getting into the car: we don't take your insurance. In fact, only three labs in the entire County do. You should tell your doctor.
Call the insurance company. LONG wait in the phone queue. Please find me a lab actually compatible with your requirements, because clearly my doctor can't. Gives me a choice of three labs not in my county and nowhere nearby. Surely that can't be right.
Go on-line to investigate myself. Find a lab that appears to be compatible. It's far away and trafficky to get there, but at least it's in the state.
Call lab #3 to confirm they take my insurance. LONG wait in the phone queue. They do.
Call doctor's office to have them FAX the referral to the new lab. LONG wait in the phone queue to ask. "We'll take care of it right away."
Go on line to get directions. Meanwhile, Doctor's office calls to say they need the new lab's FAX #, but they can't get through on the phone line to ask for it. It's on me to find the FAX # and call.
Google lab #3 and find the FAX #.
Call the doctor's office. LONG wait in the phone queue to give them the fax # of the new lab. And by the way, have I mentioned that every single one of these phone calls begins (after the LONG wait in the queue) with a new person asking my date of birth, my insurance, my policy #, the nature of my complaint?
This entire process took so long that the labs all closed for the day in the three hours it took to just get a simple referral faxed to a lab.
The utter disinterest in helping the sick lady get her x-ray is not only frustrating, it's disheartening. The moreso when there are several labs that could do this minutes away and I'd be so much better off if I just had a referral and could take it to any local lab and pay on a fee-for-services basis. Or -- what about the old days, when the doctor could do the x-ray in his office?
This is the state of things under what is still a basically private insurance system thanks to the PPO model. I can't wait until we add infinite layers of bureaucracy and unfire-able government employees to the mix.
Although if under Obamacare they just tell me outright I'm not allowed to have a chest x-ray, it might be an improvement. At least I wouldn't be so damned frustrated I could spit.
See why I never go to doctors?