I will admit fully and freely that I have not seen Michael Moore's documentary, "Sicko," yet. However, I do know what it is about and while I have the utmost sympathy for people who have been royally screwed by our completely fucked up health care system, I had not yet actually had the pleasure of being bent over and sent home after without a kiss or goodbye... until recently that is.
Obviously, this whole collection of blog postings is my journey with a chronic disease, so of course the health care industry is going to be included in the mix. However, right now, I am so frustrated with our jacked-up health care, I just want to go outside and scream.
My friend, Larry wrote a blog for the Huffington Post a while back which states "that just under half of all people filing for bankruptcy met the definition of "major medical bankruptcy."" Now I am not by any means saying that I am on the verge of bankruptcy, but I am definitely reaching a point where I am starting to wonder how this is all going to be covered- and I am considered to have excellent medical insurance.
Today I received a statement from Anthem-Blue Cross for the CT scan I had to have on my pelvis and spine. I was told at the time- by both my rheumatologist's office AND North Valley MRI/CT- that I was not required to obtain prior approval from my insurance company for the procedure. I am sure you could imagine my surprise when I opened the statement to see that I owed all $635.00 of the scan- because I did not get prior approval.
This bill was almost the tipping point, but really that time came about two hours later- something I will get to in a minute, but first I will finish up about my relatively expensive CT scan.
Anyway, this latest medical bill came on the heels of me finding out that I am not allowed to give myself the injections of methotrexate each week, but rather, I am expected to go to the doctor's office and have them do it for me. Oh, but don't worry, it's only about $10 a week... not including the actual price of the prescription. Okay, so bear with me, let's do the math: $10 a week for the office visit (not including the $30 check-ups every three weeks). Minimum $30 a month for the methotrexate and folic acid (need that so my hair doesn't fall out from the methotrexate). Nine blood tests at $7 each to make sure my liver isn't failing and I have enough white blood cells to stay alive. So if my math is correct, that would be $520 for the office visits, $510 for the check-ups, $360 for the prescriptions and $63 for the blood tests. All told, that equals $1,453.00 a year- and that is not taking into consideration the other THREE MEDICATIONS I TAKE DAILY AND FOUR DOCTORS I HAVE TO VISIT ON AT LEAST A BI-ANNUAL BASIS.
Speaking of the methotrexate, the tipping point I mentioned previously, came when I got an e-mail- not a phone call or voicemail- from Walgreen's making a vague statement that there was a problem with my prescription and it had not been filled, even though I turned in the prescription three days before I needed it. I called and found out they don't carry methotrexate injections in stock, so they had to special order it- it should be in sometime tomorrow between ten and two.
"That's really great," I told the woman on the phone, "but I am supposed to get my injection tomorrow at nine."
I could almost see her rolling her eyes and shrugging.
"Well, sorry, but it usually doesn't come anytime before noon, so give us a call around then, and see where it is."
Son of a...
So now I have to HOPE they get it by two, then I get to rush back from Redding, pick it up and run over to Afrasiabi's office by five so they can inject me- for the low, low price of $10. $10 for three minutes... what a deal.The most discouraging thing about this is that I actually do have medical benefits- really, really good medical benefits, that I pay a fair amount for. This is so frustrating for two reasons: one, I pay through the nose every month for medical insurance, just to have claims denied, and; two, I feel my aspirations becoming pipe dreams.
It is only because of my job and health benefits that I am even able get the medical attention I need right now. I have had several different health plans at other jobs, and I must admit that Anthem-Blue Cross is one of the best so far- but that sort of pigeon holes me. I had set the plans in motion to attend University of Oregon in the fall of 2009, but that is now all but out of grasp. If I were to leave my job for school, I would have to not only figure out how to pay the $17,000 for tuition, but then find the money for room, board, and of course, those pesky medical bills- without insurance. While U of O might be out of reach, I know I can somehow still swing it if I attend Chico State. I will not let this disease destroy my academic career like it is trying to destroy my spine.
I am just so discouraged right now. My legs are in a vice, I can't hold a pencil for more than five minutes, and the stack of bills is getting higher and higher. Today was a bad day.
Tomorrow will be better.