A Few Hours of Panic

Some time ago, we got a notification that my psychiatric medication manager was going to be changing practices and that we would need to sign a release in order for my records to follow her to the new practice. Since I’m self-pay under a special arrangement – $75 per visit – we tried to contact the new office to determine whether they would accept my insurance and whether they would match the self-pay arrangement I had in place. And we waited, and waited, and waited.

While I was in Phoenix, I got a call saying that my May 2nd appointment with her would have to be rescheduled. I told them I was out of town and that I’d call them when I got back in to make arrangements. I sent them an email asking why they’re rescheduling an appointment and whether she was in fact moving practices, as that was scheduled to happen April 1st. They said she was still with them and they could reschedule, and gave me options. I chose to postpone it a week, and that’s when they said that she would be at the new practice at that time and have I managed to get my records sent over to the new place?

This prompted another call to the new practice asking about insurance and self-pay options. No, they don’t take my insurance. Self-pay patients will pay $150 per appointment – double my current arrangement.

So I sent another email to the original practice asking if they would honor that $75 agreement with any other medication manager in the practice, and they said no, that the rate would be $125.

So I started looking for a new medication manager.

My insurance company listed 115 providers within 25 miles of my ZIP code. One phone call eliminated all but 39 of those providers, as they were at a practice that does not accept patients from my county. They transferred me to their Travis County counterpart. They don’t take my insurance either, but they have a financial need process to go through in order to determine self-pay rates. I kept moving through the list.

The next call eliminated three more providers by saying they weren’t accepting new patients. And I went through the rest of that list getting some version of why they can’t take me as a patient. One practice only did clinical trials, another only accepted workers’ comp cases, one number was to an architectural firm. Four were eliminated because they only serve children. One practice said to call back on the first day of the month at 9:00 am and talk with a live person to set an appointment for a new patient, but be prompt, since the new patient appointments for the month were usually gone by noon. (Turns out this is the practice my wife uses, and a call to back channels confirmed they weren’t accepting new patients at this time.) I left a smattering of messages, but wasn’t holding out hope that they’d be the one.

Until one of them called back.

He confirmed that he was in-network for my plan, he confirmed that he was taking new patients, and before long I had an appointment in hand and the intake forms already filled out. The appointment is in less than a month, so I won’t be waiting long, and I’m pretty sure that I won’t be running out of any of my medications in the meantime.

I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my psychiatric care, though I will miss my former medication manager – she was the best I’d ever had, and she’s leaving big shoes to fill.

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