Healthcare Update

The system might be effed up, but there are people in it who can be pretty awesome. Not long after my last (April 11th) post, I received a voicemail about my health insurance application with the state. I’d gotten fed up with the Healthcare.gov website and applied to my state’s program directly; when I finally received coverage under my birth name I didn’t ask any questions.

Anyways, I called the person back hoping he could resolve my name change over the phone. We played phone tag a couple of times, but within about 2 hours he said he had taken care of it. I received a piece of paper a couple of days later saying I, [my married name], do indeed have health insurance through the state. That man saved me a trip I really didn’t want to take. He’s my hero!

And it gets better. My and Fox’s primary care provider (PCP) is a short walk from our home. It’s a small practice shared by a couple of doctors, a nurse practitioner, and a friendly-professional staff. I didn’t get to see the doctor who’s listed as my PCP, but that’s okay because I really like the nurse practitioner. She prescribed an anti-inflammatory for my upper body pain and suggested I have a sleep study done to see if I have sleep apnea; they should call me by Thursday to set up an appointment. I asked to have blood work done; the nurse who drew my blood was courteous, respected me and my knowledge of my own body, and caused me minimal pain. I left feeling quite good about the whole experience.

The one downside is that I’m still not sure if I need a referral to see a psychiatrist; the nurse practitioner didn’t think I should but suggested I call my insurance to be sure. If I need one I just need to call the PCP and the staff will get me a referral, no problem. Well, that’s a relief!

Back on the Healthcare (Headache) Bandwagon

Wakana has been urging me to see a psychiatrist, so I’m finally starting to move in that direction (now that I have health insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act). I found a local psychiatrist in my plan, but I think I need a referral from my primary care provider to go see her. I was concerned because my healthcare ID cards have my birth name on them, but I’ve updated my social security and driver’s license to reflect my married name. I don’t want to be denied healthcare because of the inconsistency.

So I called my HMO, and had to talk to a machine, and finally got to talk to a person, who gave me a number I’d already tried and gotten a busy signal, then transferred me to an automated health screening. (The person was nice and as helpful as possible, given the bureaucratic red tape.) When asked to rate my overall health, I rated it as “fair” – but the other questions led me to think perhaps it’s a bit better than that. I don’t need the equipment or assistance they specified (though help remembering to take medications might prove useful, and I’d love to have someone come in and help me declutter on some kind of regular schedule). I only answered “yes” to one of the conditions mentioned: symptoms of depression. The thing is, there were no questions about the severity of my symptoms. The only other clearly mental-health related question was “Have you been diagnosed with schizophrenia?” There was no mention of bipolar, anxiety, PTSD, dissociative disorders, or other mental health issues.

After being screened, I tried calling the bureaucracy again and selected the option to talk to a human being. I was forwarded to an answering service, which then disconnected me because the mailbox was full. I don’t know if going through the automated service would have worked better, but think I would have been transferred to a human answering service disconnected anyway.

“Oh, well,” I thought. “I’ll just have to go there in person and deal with whatever stupidity awaits me. I’ll bring water, snacks, and a good book.”

Of course I didn’t feel up to it today. I was barely able to keep myself from crying while I was on the phone, and I’m sure some degree of distress came through in my voice.

The human being I’d talked to assured me that healthcare providers would accept my insurance as long as I had the relevant ID, even though the name on it doesn’t match the name on my state-issued photo ID.

So, I tried calling my primary care provider. Might as well make that appointment, right?

“The office is closed. Please leave a message after the tone.”

I think I’d rather go eat someĀ ice cream…