A Matter of Conflict of Interest
I've talked a bit about personal health issues. Largely, I do it so that those starting out as writers understand that life isn't going to stop throwing obstacles in your path once you become published. As Rosanna Rosannadanna used to say, "It's always something." The idea is that you don't let it stop you. Fight the good fight, my friends. Anyway, let's talk about something that happened yesterday and how it's pretty disturbing.
I got a phone call from my insurance company yesterday. It seems they have a "new" program that they wanted me to take advantage of--one where they've hired a registered nurse to interface with their clientele. I was instantly alarmed. Why? Let's travel back to a time before Obamacare. Around a year before Obamacare.
I broke and dislocated my elbow in martial arts class.
It's okay to skip this paragraph if you've heard about it before, by the way. It was an accident. I slipped and fell on a concrete floor. I'm one of those weirdos that doesn't feel the pain for at least an hour or so. (I was thrown off a horse onto a cement driveway when I was 16. Same thing happened. I walked around in spite of water on the knee and an almost concussion. Car accident? Same thing with a badly sprained ankle.) I'm pretty sure it's a type of shock. Regardless, it comes in handy because it helps me get to medical assistance when I need it. I don't have to lay around and wait for someone else to act. I take care of it myself. (This has annoyed my husband. Largely because he doesn't like the surprise after the fact. He wants to know and help.) So, the moment I understood something wasn't right I went home to call the insurance company. I figured it'd be wise. That way, I could go to the emergency room they recommended. No fuss. Instead, they connected me to a company RN who told me I shouldn't go to the emergency room at all and then attempted to diagnose my broken arm over the telephone. Long story short, I ended up driving around (my car has a manual transmission, mind you) Austin for two hours while I went from my doctor's office (who doesn't have an X-ray machine) to a radiologist. When I'd asked the radiologist about treatment the tech handed me two ace bandages. Like I was going to wrap it myself? The incident occurred at 10am. I got back home at 2pm, and by that time the pain had hit. I had to call Dane after all. I was done at that point and in tears. He called my doctor for pain meds. All because the insurance company didn't want to pay for an ER visit.
So, cheerful phone call from insurance company yesterday. "We have a new program! We have an RN on staff!" I explained my position. The woman on the line was understanding while not admitting this could be a problem. "This isn't the same thing at all." It isn't? Then she connected me to the nurse who then told me all about how she could be consulted when my doctor was unavailable--say in the middle of the night or on a weekend. You know, the sort of time when you're most likely to go to an ER for help. This, after I told her this was a conflict of interest, and she insisted she wasn't practicing medicine. Then the kicker: she told me that I could talk to her about any mental health issues too. My reply? "I'm sure your corporation has the legal aspects of patient/doctor confidentially covered in that case. Right?" There was a long uncomfortable silence. I told her it wasn't personal. I'm sure her intensions were good. Another uncomfortable silence stretched out, and she finally issued a stumbling reassurance and hung up.
The timing on this "service's" return doesn't surprise me. We're at a place where consumer protections from insurance company abuses are systemically being removed by the GOP in an effort to make insurance "cheaper." (And corporate liability is being lessened.)
I refused to use the insurance company's mail order pharmacy "benefit" for similar reasons. First, I believe in supporting local pharmacists in local jobs. Second, I do not like the idea of medical monopolies. Monopolies are dangerous to begin with. Add in life and death issues? [sarcasm font] Yeah. I can't think of any way that could go bad. Do you? [end sarcasm font]
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is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.