More like HealthDON’Tcare, am I right?
Hello dear reader(s)!
Last week I had my oncologists appointment which went amazingly because of my counts, the fact that I really like my doctor, and that I was with it enough to remember to ask for a copy of the referral she sent to a psychiatrist for me back in April that I had not heard anything anything from. My thought was that the psychiatrist was not taking new patients, but I would call to find out what happened, and then use that referral and the fact that psychiatrist was not taking new patients to try to get seen by another psychiatrist on my insurance company’s list.
So the next day, I call the number for the psychiatrist’s office and am greeted by an automated system where I can leave a voicemail for the patient coordinator. So in my nicest customer voice, I mention that I was referred back in April and hadn’t heard anything back, that my doctor’s staff said they resent the referral a second time when I asked about it, and was wondering if they got it. Then I left my call back number and ended politely with, “Thank you, and have a great day.”
While I was in the bathroom, the “patient coordinator” called and left the bitchiest sounding voicemail with no information asking me to call back. So I call back and press the button thinking I will have to leave this patient coordinator another voicemail, but this time she answers the phone. In the worst, most hurried tone I can imagine she says, “(her name)”…
“Hello,” I begin, “My name is Joshua Wrenn and I was referred to Dr. (name) back on April 14th and have yet to hear anything back. I was just wondering if-” (cut off)
“Dr. (name) isn’t accepting new patients.”
“Okay that it is what I figured, thanks for the information.”
Ugh, okay. Now, I can understand that they are not able to accept new patients at this time. They are probably over loaded as all hell because of all the cuts to mental health funding, the overflow of those who can get it to private mental health doctors and organizations, and the increased need for mental healthcare due to the issues experienced in modern society. I get it. What I don’t get is why they can’t take less than the time it took for me to make the call, her to call me back, and me to finally reach her for her to call my oncologist and advise they aren’t accepting new patients. Or to call me and tell me. No, they just decided to keep receiving and ignoring the referrals. And they are probably doing that for every referral they get, and probably doing four times the work by addressing inquiries after people wait a month and a half with no response from them. The other thing that really upsets me about this interaction was the “patient coordinator’s” attitude. This is someone who has a job of dealing with the mentally ill. As debilitating as my flash-backs, panic attacks, anxiety, and emotional outbursts out of nowhere can be…I am actually on the luckier side of those suffering. I don’t want to self-harm, and I don’t get realistically violent. The same can’t be said for everyone, and they aren’t in control of it. And this bitch, this snotty bitch is talking to sick people and treating them that way? Does her boss, the doctor know that? If I can find an email address, he will.
But wait, there’s more!!!
I go onto my insurance plan’s website to look for area in-network psychiatrists and there is a good size list (I think it was 26). Each one with the little green check mark beside “Accepting New Patients”. Okay, easy, I thought. Then I start calling.
First one, another bitchy receptionist. I explain the situation. The doctor is not accepting new patients. “Maybe try back in July.” Okay….guess the site needs to be updated.
Second. A nicer sounding receptionist! Hooray!!!! I explain the situation. “That doctor is no longer in the area. Let me see if the other doctors in the group accept your insurance.”
“Thank you!” I reply, just glad to be talking to someone who wasn’t evil.
“I’m sorry, they do not. You could try (group), (group), and (group)?”
“Well okay, thank you very much, have a great day!”
“You too, good luck!” she says.
Feeling good, I look for the groups on my in network provider list. Nope. Not one of them.
So on to the next one on the list. Another bitchy receptionist. Another doctor moved out of the area.
The next. Number is not a working number.
Next. Nice but clueless receptionist. “The doctor is not in, but I will have someone get back to you about that.” Seriously, she didn’t even know if he is accepting new patients? Okay…
Next. Jerk receptionist. He was as rude as the first lady. Not accepting new patients.
On and on that went. Finally, as a last-ditch I called the one place I had been avoiding, a doctor who works at the state mental health hospital.
Now, I want to make clear…it is not that I think that I am above the patients who need the state mental health system. This is not a stigma thing. What this is, is being pissed off that I have health insurance, so I don’t need the state’s assistance on this. BUT TOO MANY PEOPLE DO. And by going there, I am using resources designed for people who can’t see a doctor in a private group. They take payment based on a sliding scale, some people will obviously be seen for free. I have insurance. If I go there, it will take longer for someone who has no options to be seen. Plus, they are likely extremely overworked and so I don’t know about the frequency or intensity of care available when they are just trying to keep people alive.
However, thanks to insurance, and the providers in this area, and the general stigma surrounding mental health that is pushing people out of the profession…it appears as that I have no other choice but do drive down to the hospital, go to the financial building of the complex, where I simply show them my insurance card because the sliding scale wouldn’t apply…and try to get an appointment to see someone (which probably won’t be until July).