I arrived as usual, fifteen minutes early. I signed in, while the two people at the desk were dealing with patients checking out. I sat down and waited. Must be lunch hour as I was the only other person in the waiting room. I waited.
I checked my phone, perused my surroundings of advertisements for skin care, all the while, the two receptionists chatted about lunch. From what I gathered, lunch had been provided and they carried on about how it tasted, how salty certain items were. I learned one of them couldn't tolerate salty foods and had swollen joints from arthritis and had to be careful. Blah, blah, blah. I was surprised neither had bothered to call me to the desk for check in.
I've been seeing this doctor for 10 years, when I had my first bout with skin cancer. Initially the visits were every 3 month, now twice a year. My doctor works on a tight schedule. I've never been kept waiting. In spite of this, I've never felt rushed while in his office. We talk. I know about his family, and he about mine. We are the same age. He is very caring.
It feels like I've been waiting much longer than usual. I hear whispers. "Did you check her in?"
"No, I think she signed in, though." I hear shuffling of papers. More whispering. I figure they will call me up any moment to ask for my insurance card and ID. The back door opens and I hear my name called.
It doesn't take long before my doctor appears. First thing he does is ask how my family is doing. We chat for a moment and he asks the name of my grandsons and says he will be praying. He then goes to work zapping spots on my skin that look suspicious. Right on time, he finishes. We say good bye and I'm ready to leave with my skin on fire.
At the checkout desk, I'm asked for my $30 co-pay. Nope, I inform the receptionist, I have new insurance and I know full well that my co-pay is considerably more. As I'm retrieving my insurance card, she informs me that there is nothing in my chart about a new insurance. I explain that nobody checked me in. She argues that someone most certainly did and his name is right in my chart. Nope, it never happened. She takes my card, shakes her head, and hands it back.
"We don't accept this insurance. They should have told you when you checked in."
"Nobody checked me in."
"Well, you will have to pay the cash price because we don't accept this."
As it frequently happens, I fight back tears. Can I have one day that I don't cry? Just one? I take a deep breath. Sounding annoyed, the receptionist says, "I will have to check with your provider. I don't even know what the cash price is. Everyone has insurance. Go sit down while I try to find him." I take a seat in the waiting area again.
I struggle to keep from crying. I don't understand why this is so hard. Obamacare, the affordable care act was supposed to provide for everyone. What has this provided for me and my family? Huge, hefty payments every month but not much coverage.
She returns and calls me back to the desk. I swipe at the tears. "Well, he is just going to charge you for an office visit, but not for any of the procedures." Silently I hand her my credit card. "Be thankful you didn't have any biopsies done today, " she snaps, "those would have been very expensive." I don't know how to respond. She then questions me, "did you know we didn't accept your insurance before you got here?" Seriously? To cover someone else's mistake she's trying to blame me? I am made to feel as if I am taking advantage. As if I came into this office with the intent to get free services knowing full well my insurance was worthless here. I reply, "I had no idea. Nobody checked me in." Her disbelief was obvious. She took my payment and I left.
Once outside, I could not hold back the tears. I was thankful. Thankful for a doctor who knows me, who canceled the charges I couldn't afford. A doctor who cares. Ultimately, the receptionist's mistake most likely saved me a lot of money. It was yet another humiliating experience with my laughable, I mean affordable care insurance. I hope to not have too many more of these.
"Give all r worries and to God, about ." 1 Pet. 5:7