So it’s getting close to that time again, the 3-4 month mark where I go for follow-ups with both of my doctors: the one in town and the one out of town. First, we will head to the out of town doc here in a few days. This will not be a face to face visit. It will be our (mine and my hubs) 2nd Group Visit, Group B (2nd visit of 4-5). Right. A Group Visit. This is my life as a Chronic Lyme patient. Welcome.
You may be wondering what that is all about. I am still wondering myself. The first one was interesting. Patients checked in every 15 minutes. Vitals were taken and then heart test was completed. Then, we all headed to another larger area – there were about 20 of us – and we had about a 2.5 hour visit. During this visit, our doctor provided all kinds of information to us about Lyme disease and multi-systemic issues it may and can cause. Much of this information I already knew but it was helpful to have the information presented all at once.
Then, after hearing all of the info, we were given a lab request sheet. We were told to mark some of the labs we thought we should have done based off of the information and based on what tests we have already had in the past. Now, while this wasn’t a bad idea, my main concern was “HEY, is this covered by my insurance?” And of course no doctor can anser that question. From the list provided, and after reviewing what labs I’ve had done in the past, I was still looking at at a sizable list.
There was no face time with my doctor. I did have a couple of questions, but with so many other people vying for her time, plus my fatigue, I was ready to go. Now for the aftermath.
Luckily, this was summer because, I kid you not, I spent some 10 hours figuring out what exactly the labs codes meant, researching diagnostic codes, then researching the code numbers for the labs (my doc’s lab request did not have any lab codes on it, and THEN, talking to my insurance (yet again!) about what might be covered or not. All of this BEFORE I went to the actual lab to get the tests completed.
I can tell you that if it had not been summer break, I just would not have had any labs done because I would not have had anywhere near that kind of time to research.And, wait for it….I also received a separate bill for the little heart exam before this Group visit (I had NO idea this would be billed as a separate charge to my insurance, who then did not cover it) and I think it is like $130. I owe that to my doctor;’s office and must pay it before my 2nd Group visit next week.
Oh right, I also just received another separate bill in the mail for the dermatologist visit I had this past July. Yes, I paid when I left in July. Yes, they told me they were sending off the biopsy. No, they didn’t tell me it would be YET another bill. As a matter of fact, when I left my appointment that day, they had me pay $130 on top of the $50 co-pay because I was having a biopsy, and I wasn’t going to get charged separately for the lab work. Really? Because I just had a $350 bill just show up from some LLC lab place that I am assuming processed the biopsy? Not quite sure but that is my guess. Yes, I can call the doctor’s office. Yes, I can call the lab that has billed me. Yes, yes. It’s just so time consuming and energy zapping, and hours more wasted……I cannot imagine what navigating this whole health “care” system is like for patients way more ill and sick. It’s ridiculous but even more than that, it is CRIMINAL. Highway robbery. In our own country.
So needless to say, as we all already know, health insurance sucks, the health system in this country sucks. I know more people than not who have been railroaded and screwed by our healthcare system and most of this has been in the past 3-4 years. As patients, we can’t get prices beforehand, we can’t really “shop” around as heath insurance companies tout because from at least what I have seen, every step of the way, not one person or entity can give you a real “answer.” They shift us around and around, and it isn’t until we get the bill that we can remotely begin to try and figure out anything and by then, everything is so convoluted, it can take days, weeks, months to try and sort anything out and even then, it is rarely to the patient’s benefit.
Anyhoo.I am trying out one more Group Visit. We’ll see. Although the information shared last time was good, honestly, there wasn’t too much I didn’t already know.And the bottom line cost of that visit, the trip, the labs, the supplements, etc. at this point are not outweighing the benefit I gained (it wasn’t much if indeed anything) so I may need to reconsider doing the Group C meeting.
Well, my people, I hope your September is going well. Stay cool and take care – B