This is a happy diary, as a follow-up to my other diaries about health care for the uninsured.
I am currently full of squee. Bear with me!
We had thought that we would have health insurance this month. Cailín Ard had worked 90 days as a temp, and then 90 days as a permanent employee, and we were told she would be eligible for insurance after 90 days.
Eligible doesn't mean covered. It apparently means that they start the paperwork for the following month's first day. I had already endured a week or so of a bad flare, holding on because I knew I'd be covered in just this many days. When I found out I wasn't, I broke, and called the doctor's office, and made my appointment.
I was heartbroken that the next available appointment for my assigned doctor was at the end of the month, but I took it. What else could I do?
The bad flare ended, but I kept saving up money for the appointment. I knew I owed them for the previous one (they had given me an appointment knowing I had no way to pay, bless them), and I live in a very affluent town. I figured that it would be in the range of what my old doctor's office charged. I wouldn't have enough, but I would be able to pay for a good chunk. That was the plan.
So today I rushed into the doctor's office, just barely on time because my housemate had me start the wood furnace again (she has stated she has no intention of buying oil). I was already panic-y, and apologized profusely. The receptionist smiled and told me there was no problem, and that I should pay after the visit. Pùka and I went to the waiting room.
A different nurse from the one I had seen before came and brought me to the exam room. She was a wonderfully pleasant older woman who took my anxiety in stride, and reassured me. She took down the list of medications I needed, and told me not to worry, she thought I'd like the doctor. She understood why I was nervous, with my conditions, but she assured me that the doctor did know that fibromyalgia was real, and that no one in their office would tell me that it was just "in my head".
She left, and I did calming yogic breaths until the doctor came.
He was a fairly young man, and he had the notes the nurse and taken, as well as the history that the CPN had taken at my previous visit. This was when I found out that my medical records hadn't made it. I was instantly more worried, because some of my meds are controlled substances, and at this point they had only my word... Eek!
He asked why I was there, and I told him that I'd made the appointment in the middle of a horrible flare, but while I was doing better now, I was still in pain and needed meds. He asked me if I had told reception my pain levels... I had, but they had told me this was the first appointment available. He seemed rather upset, and told me that he would make sure that next time I had an emergency, I would be seen ASAP (a note is going in my file). <3 We then went over everything I had listed for them, and we decided to eliminate one medication, but he said that everything else looked more than reasonable, and that he would refill them. Did I prefer 1 or 3 month refills? My one disappointment was that I was already at the maximum dose for Mobic, my daily NSAID. If that could have been raised, it would have helped manage my fibro, but if any more is dangerous, then that's the way it is! We agreed that I need blood work for my hypothyroid disorder, and he went to tell the nurse. We also agreed on an every-three-month schedule for my appointments.
The same nurse came back, and oh em gee, she listened about how veins work! Most phlebotomists have their preferred spot, and getting them to change it is almost pointless. For me, my hands have my only decent veins. She smiled, and said she didn't want to waste time on something that wouldn't work! I almost fell in love. :)
Both doctor and nurse treated me with the utmost respect. They tried to make me comfortable. They commented on Pùka, and knew and followed the rules (no petting without permission, do not distract the working dog). The doctor spent about a half-hour with me, and asked several times if we had covered everything (I did forget to ask about medical MJ, but that's hardly on him!). I never felt rushed, and I wasn't dictated to.
I like this practice.
I headed out to reception, and spoke to the woman at check out. She said that as a self-pay patient, I would be asked to put down $50-75, whichever I could afford best, and that self-pays got 20% off the total bill. That bill was 1/5 of what I was expecting! I paid off my debt, and paid for the visit, with a balance left for what the labs might cost (those get sent out). What a great feeling!
About 2 hours later, I got a call from the pharmacy that my scripts were filled.
And on the first of the month, I will have insurance again! But even without it, I now know that this practice really is about helping patients, regardless of income, and we would work something out.