Medical Yo-Yos

WARNING: brief language

I feel like I’m on a medical yo-yo because I keep having to deal with them.

Regular readers of this blog who warned me, this is your signal to prepare your “I told you so.” Let me catch you up.

On June 11, I had an appointment with my new psychiatrist, who consults at CommUnity Care through telepsychiatry. (It’s essentially a Skype call, and he calls in prescriptions to my pharmacy from his office in Houston.) Things went swimmingly.

On June 15, I had my first appointment with my new primary care physician, who I see through the Seton network of doctors. This is important to note only because it’s not CommUnity Care.

Later that week, I called to cancel existing appointments that I had with Austin-Travis County Integral Care (because I had a psychiatrist and because ATCIC does not take my Medicare coverage) and with a primary care physician through CommUnity Care (because I now had a doctor that wouldn’t force me to wait over a month for an intake appointment while the vast majority of my blood pressure and diabetes medications ran out). I also called my case manager at CommUnity Care to let her know that while I had canceled my appointment with their PCP, it was because I had another doctor that could see me sooner. She was on vacation last week, and so I left her the message and told her to call me to confirm this.

This morning she called and informed me that because my primary care physician was not through CommUnity Care I couldn’t take advantage of their network of specialists, meaning I was being once more shuffled back to ATCIC for my psychiatric care.

To say I was livid is a mild understatement. The call came in this morning at 10:00 am and it’s taken me to this point in the evening, almost twelve hours later, to calm down enough to write this.

I am sick and tired of being dicked around by doctors who see “Medicare” and decided that I’m a second class citizen. I’m only on Medicare because my wife has started a new job and the benefits haven’t kicked in yet. The SECOND that we are eligible for her healthcare coverage we are taking advantage of it and I’m putting Medicare back to secondary and MAYBE, just maybe, all the SNAFUs that I’ve been dealing with over the past six weeks will go away. I have never in my life experienced such shabby care at the hands of a medical professional, nor have I ever been treated so carelessly, and it seems that it’s consistent with all the providers I’ve tried to work with save for one: my current PCP, who has listened to what I have to say, has gone out of her way to make sure that their office jumps through the hoops that Medicare makes you go through rather than leaving me to do it.

The uptick that I’m being assured of is that I will be treated as an uninsured patient by ATCIC and so receive pro bono care. I’ve been a patient in their system previously, before I was on Medicare and during a period when my wife wasn’t working, and I know they treat their patients with some manner of respect, so I’m not worried about how I’ll be treated by their professionals. What I AM worried about is whether I’m being told accurate information about payment arrangements with ATCIC, since it seems that nothing that I’ve experienced with CommUnity Care is remotely trustworthy (the same case manager that told me that I couldn’t be seen by their doctors unless my PCP was through them earlier told me that all they cared about was that I HAD a PCP).

The day has been uneventful since, and I’ve tried to take it easy to let my blood pressure calm down after that call this morning. My day has been filled with kitchen-y chores and reading and computer gaming to try and take my mind off the stress of earlier. It seems to have worked, since in recounting this I’m looking at the events matter-of-factly instead of seething with empassioned rage like I was during the phone call. When I finish with this blog post, I’m likely going back to the gaming for the rest of the night. It’s an escape that mentally I desperately need right now.

In closing, if you’re in the Austin area, let me recommend against CommUnity Care for your medical needs. Their medical professionals have been competent enough, but their administration is one big giant clusterfuck that I’m done with.

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