Monday, September 27, 2004

Doctor Useful?

J. came up from his basement office (singing "Loooooteal Phase--Yeeaw!") to find me weeping melodramatically over my laptop, the Valley Yellow Pages in my lap, the cordless phone in the crick of my neck, a pen in one hand and my health insurance card in the other. On the screen were four browsers, each opened to a different but equally useless "Find a Doc" site recommended by my PPO.

(Here I should probably mention that the snazzy new gay guy doctor I was so excited about--the one recommended by Mother T.--would not under any circumstances take my insurance. I was crushed. Right back to square one.)

On one site, the lookup function didn't work at all; on the other three, the same list of 70 "reproductive endocrinologists" was displayed.

These 70 were supposed to be: a) reproductive endocrinologists, b) affiliated with my PPO, and c) in practice.

In actuality, of the first 25 I called, a) 17 were retired or no longer at the phone number listed, b) of the four offices in which I could reach a live person, only one was actually contracted with my PPO, and c) he wasn't a reproductive endocrinologist--just a regular OB/GYN who had no idea why Blue Shield listed him as an R.E.

The customer care rep at the insurance company, while sympathetic to my plight, said she could not help as she only had access to the same websites I was already using. When I asked if there was anyone at the insurer who could get to the bottom of it, she said she'd ask the appropriate people to look into it but that "it would take months." Instead, she recommended that I open the phone book and just start calling around.

"Calling around?" I say. "Names from the phone book? Calling around?! Are you serious?! CALLING AROUND? I pay $617 a month for this--to CALL NAMES FROM THE PHONE BOOK?"

But, in the end, what else am I gong to do? Blue Shield is obviously not going to help me. So I call around. I open the Yellow Pages. There are no listings for reproductive endocrinologists. They are, apparently, lumped in with OB/GYN's. So I look for ads--anything with the word "fertility" in it.

I find two, though I know there most be dozens--guess they just don't advertise in the motherfucking Yellow Pages--and call. The first, quite amazingly, appears to be included on the dubious list of 70 from my insurer, just with a different--presumably more accurate--phone number. Aha!, I think, I've found one! So I call. And am told, after being welcomed with open arms and given an appointment for next week, that he does not, in fact, take my insurance after all. He dropped out of all PPO's last year and never got himself removed from the list.

Double motherfucker.

So I call the other one, a nebulously-named group practice--and am asked to wait on hold "there are five calls ahead of you." So I wait on hold, keep waiting, keep waiting, and am eventually, predictably, disconnected. I start to cry. I redial. And this is where Jeff comes in (singing).

It takes him a moment to realize that I am a wreck, but when he trails off with a final, lackluster "yeeeaw!" and comes to sit next to me, he is full of concern and love. He hugs me, dislodging the phone, and we sit there for a while while I break down. He tells me he loves me. And as I calm down enough to finish recounting the morning's ordeal, I hear a "hello?" from the forgotten cordless, which I scramble to pick up.

Turns out, this group practice is made up of five female fertility specialists. They are five miles from my house. They take my insurance. Two of them are taking new patients.

And I have an appointment on October 28th.



Blogger Dee said...

YEEAW is right! Good for you--so glad you got an appointment. Sorry you had to deal with all that insurance bs on top of everything else. Hopefully you'll get some answers and a plan from the new doc. 10/28 can't get here soon enough! Hang in there.

6:35 AM  
Blogger DeadBug said...

Thanks, Dee, for commenting--it makes my day!

Boy, I feel so much better, just having the appointment.

Best of luck to you, too--I'm on my way over to your blog right now...

2:03 PM  

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