Sunday, November 13, 2011

Falling through the cracks

We've all grown up thinking that if the bottom falls out of our world there's a safety net to catch us in the welfare and charity systems society has created over time.  More and more people are finding that isn't true.

I've been out of the paid workforce, and therefore without health insurance, since February.  About a month ago I needed to get my thyroid prescription renewed.  My doctor insisted on an office visit to do that but with no money I resisted.  I reasoned that having no income for nearly six months should qualify for a visit to one of the so-called free clinics that operate here in Salt Lake City.  Afterall, it was just a simple office visit... listen to my heart and lungs, check blood pressure, draw blood to test TSH and write the prescription... the same prescription I've taken for nearly 20 years.  Simple, routine, no big deal... right?  Wrong.

The first clinic I went to wouldn't see me because I'm not pregnant.  The one they referred me to wouldn't see me because it was an urgent care facility and their doctors won't write a prescription for a maintenance medication.  The next wouldn't see me because I live 3 blocks outside the demographic area they serve.  The next two wouldn't see me because I don't have a job so there's no pay stub for them to base their sliding scale fee on.  The next wouldn't see me because I'm not homeless.  And so on and so forth...  Every single one told me that in some way I did not meet their criteria for care.  Impressive safety net, huh?

In the end, I had no choice but to suck it up and pay cash to see my own doctor, who, after I got there told me that I had a credit balance because they had overcharged my co-pay by $5 on every previous visit.  I must have been there at a time when they weren't booked quite so back-to-back because he had plenty of time to sit and chat.  Though experience has shown me that I often know as much (sometimes more) about thyroid issues than the doctors I've seen, this doctor surprised me and admitted that medical school did not teach him about on-going care for a patient with a thyroid issue.  The initial diagnosis and treatment (if it required surgery or ablation) was part of the curriculum but not what happens after that.  He's on staff at the University of Utah Medical School and said it still isn't covered in today's schooling.

That admission sent me home to write a self-help booklet about living with hypothyroidism.  Unless or until it gets picked up by a publisher, I'm going to offer the same deal here as last time.  $1.95 and I'll email you the .PDF.  Leave contact information in a comment that when I moderate I will NOT publish for public view just use it to send you my address for payment.


jweb711724 said...

You know where to send it honey! I need all the great help I can get! Plus it is always a help to know more!! Thanks for all your studies!

latter-daymom said...

I think it is a blessing in disguise that you weren't able to be seen by any of the other clinics. I am sure you were counselled better by your own doctor!

However, too bad about all the "reasons" the others couldn't see you, plus the hours and expense of running around to all those clinics.