Sunday, March 14, 2010

Broken Health Care System and Credit System

It is interesting that when health care and the broken financial system are both the hot topics of the day that a situation relating to both in combination happened to me this past week. And no, I was not caught trading credit default swaps in hospital stock. I just got sick.

It started with an annoying "business decision" by my HMO, Blue Care Network, to get rid of all of its health facilities, doctors, and nurses. This was terribly annoying because all of our doctors were at a BCN facility, and this facility was right near our house. We'd gone there for years. I don't know why they did this. I'm sure it was probably an attempt to squeeze more money out of us somehow. In any case, the doctors there scattered to the winds. I decided to keep my doctor, for lack of any better option (it is hard to find an available doctor), and so I had my files sent to the new office where he set up shop, Mid Michigan Physicians. This happened last year, though not too long ago.

Unfortunately, our pediatrician left the state, so we decided to go with another one from the office - he moved to MSU. So now our doctors were in two different practices. That was only slightly inconvenient, however, compared to what I had to deal with last week.

One of the "joys" of having kids in day care is that they often get sick and then bring it home and we all get sick. My daughter generously got a nasty cold that she then shared by coughing all over me and spitting in my face and mouth on a frequent basis. So I had some long nights of misery coughing and otherwise not sleeping well. My eyes also got some sort of infection and I was having trouble seeing in bright light. Now there's not much that can be done for a cold - so I would just have let it run its course, but the eye issue was concerning because it made it difficult to drive when it was sunny with lots of snow on the ground. That concern made me want to set up a doctor's appointment.

Now I had not had an appointment with my doctor at his new practice yet. Which was why I was shocked to discover when I did try and get an appointment that they would not schedule one because of a billing issue. I asked them how could I have a billing issue when I've never visited that practice before? They said it was from 2005, with a doctor whose name I'd never heard before. They said they did not know who the doctor was, either. So then I asked, how could there be a billing issue for a doctor who was never at their practice from a time when I had never visited the facility. No answer to that. And they couldn't give more specifics because the bill was so old it was sent to their collections agency. They said they could do nothing about it. For some strange reason the address they had on file for me was one over 10 years old. It was strange because I had never been there before and so the only address they should have had was my current address (one I've had for 10 years).

I called back several times, talked to the billing manager. They would do nothing. They told me they couldn't tell me anything more. They told me only the collections company could do anything and I had to figure it out with them. Meanwhile, my primary care physician, the only person who can approve certain treatments, referrals, and everything else was now unavailable to me.

The collections company could tell me nothing. The records were so old they were in storage. They had the same old address. They said that they had on file that mail they sent to me was returned. Apparently looking my address up in the phone book was too complicated for them, since I have a listed address that has been publicly available for 10 years (and there are no other names in the phone book like mine). So the best they could do at the collections company was order the records out of storage and send them to me. This could take weeks. In the meanwhile, no doctor appointments for me.

Needless to say, I was gloriously pissed off. I'm going to find another doctor. That will take time. In the meanwhile, though I am double insured, I can't get a fucking doctor's appointment. Republicans can all fucking die. They don't want to fix healthcare? They can just fucking die. And fuck the Democrats for not passing a public option. They could do it right now, but they won't. Fuckers.


James Hanley said...

"fuck the Democrats for not passing a public option. They could do it right now, but they won't."

I think you're engaging in group-level analysis, when the real issue is down at the individual legislator's level. Sure, Democrats as a group favor at least a public option, but the Democrats don't make decisions at the group level--no group does. To make a meaningful analysis you have to look at what the political stakes are for individual legislators in the Democratic caucus.

If we had a system with party discipline, your argument that they could would be stronger, but the U.S. doesn't have a system with party discipline.

A few years ago, a right-winger could just as easily have said, "the Repubicans could change Social Security to private retirement accounts," and it would have been precisely equal to your statement here.

I sympathize with your frustration with BCN. I am only critiquing your political analysis.

DBB said...

The GOP seems to have no issues with party discipline. They vote as a block and filibuster just about everything.

When the GOP had over 50 senators (but not 60), on the big bills, Dems would split down the middle and hardly filibuster anything.

In this case, they don't even need all of the Dem Senators - just 50 out of 59. The VP can be the tie-breaker. But they won't do it.

C Woods said...

I can't imagine how frustrating this must be.

Ten minutes before I read your post, I was already fuming about health care after reading the March 2010 issue of "The Hightower Lowdown."

It states: "...Our country's five largest health-insurance corporations ... recently stunned greed-watchers with an announcement that they had scored record profits in 2009, totaling $12.2 billion...a 56% hike in profits over the previous year for United Health, Wellpoint, Aetna, Humane and Cigna! ,,,,The Insurance Giants also booted 2.7 million Americans out of their health plans last year...Three of the five Giants shifted more of their customer's premiums out of providing medical care and into corporate profits, executive salaries, and administrative overhead. ...Anthem Blue Cross, a California subsidiary of Wellpoint ... With the company enjoying a 91% increase in profits...suddenly demanded a 39% rate increase ---a price hike 10 times more than the rise in the actual cost of health care."

And the GOP doesn't think we need health care reform? Of course, not. A big hunk of those profits went to lobbyists or to our legislator's campaign funds.