Monday, April 09, 2007

The Mystery of Medical Care

Today, I stopped by my workplace, to handle any higher-priority issues that may have collected during my absence. My plan was to take care of a couple of things, then try to find a new primary care physician (and maybe even get some input on why I'm still feeling the way that I do).

I went to my insurance company's website to find a list of participating providers. I was told that internal medicine is a good way to narrow down your search preferences since these doctors know a bit more than your average "general practitioner" and are probably less likely to send me to a specialist every time I need something.

Don't get me wrong. Specialists are fine, but it'd be nice if the person who called him- or herself my doctor can actually do a little doctoring instead of a lotta referring. I've gotten quite enough of that, already.

Anyway, I'm complaining this time because I'm amazed anyone ever gets any health care, at all, considering what I went through just to FIND a physician. Don't worry, it's nowhere near as bad as some of my horror stories.

It's just that the whole thing can be so laborious and inefficient. I went to the address on the insurance company's website just to end up in a suite where no one seemed to work. I mean, I could hear somebody back there, but no one ever showed up at the receptionist's desk.

I eventually found a sign that said the doctor I sought was in suite 200 instead of 100. Fine.

I go there to find a swarm of people waiting at the windows or waiting to be seen. The windows had the names of several physicians next to them. Sadly, the only window with a "closed" sign was also the one that had the name of, not only the main physician I sought but, half the doctors I found on the website.

I waited in another line, asked if someone could help me, since the first line was closed, and was greeted by a very nice young lady. She was all ready to sign me up, but first I wanted to know if any of the doctors from my list were taking new patients.

That, apparently, was asking too much. It seemed to take quite a bit to find out which doctors were taking new patients. Dr. R. was taking new patients, but no one seemed to know about the other two.

Oh well. I was told to see another young lady who'd help me find out about Dr. R.

She was trying to sign me up, asking for my driver's license and whatnot and I interrupted her, just like I did one of her predecessors, saying, "Well first, do you have access to the doctor's schedule? If she's seeing new patients, but can't fit them in for six months, there's no point in my filling out a bunch of forms. That'd be a waste of your time and mine."

She took a look and found that it'd take a month or more before the doctor would be able to see me. She eventually was told by someone "off-camera" that the other two doctors weren't seeing any new patients. Somehow, that seemed like b.s.

I mean, moments earlier, someone actually told me to check the website to find out which doctors were accepting new patients.

"Even though I'm right here in your facility, I need to leave and get on the internet to find out if you're even taking new patients?"

Ultimately, it seemed that, even if these nice folks could've accommodated me, I'd have ended up another number in a sea of patients waiting to receive misinformation and sub-par customer service.

Who KNOWS what the actual medical care would've been like?!

I had another experience, recently, that showed me that first impressions aren't always indicative of what the 3rd or 4th impressions will be like. But still, it seemed that I'd have to deal with quite a bit of incompetence before I could possibly make my way through to the sweet, knowledgeable, HIPAA-compliant cream filling.

So, after all that driving around, waiting in line, and inquiry, I'm half-way down my list and still haven't found a doctor.

The trouble I have just as a single guy, with no kids, leaves me in awe of people who take care of this kind of thing for themselves and a whole herd o' young'uns... or even just one.

Much respect, parents. How do you do it?!

I didn't even know to ask most of these questions, back in the day. Now that I know the questions, I'm having a helluva time trying to get some answers.


Anonymous said...

"Much respect, parents. How do you do it?!"

I'm sayin'! I wonder that all the time. Its hard enough taking care of myself and my immediate needs, I definitely couldn't handle minding the needs of someone else who is SOLELY dependent on ME, in fact, handling their needs. Bless 'em!

And bless you! You are having the darndest time, aren't you?? Woo woo woo!

And its funny that they send you to the website, like its all updated and stuff. I dont know HOW many times I've gotten phone numbers and addresses for doctors on the "website", that now belong to some lil old lady wondering why folks keep callin her to make an appt.


Anonymous said...


I'm about to travel this very road ... looking for a new doctor. I'm so not looking forward to it.

Miz JJ said...

So glad to live in Canada.

Michael May said...

Damn, West! I'm starting to get worried about your health. I hope you find someone good soon. My wife has a chronic disease and we know firsthand how tough it can be to find the right doctor to help you.