Although I expected this to happen — KNEW it would happen — it’s still one-of-those-things that makes me crazy.
We changed medical plans this year, switching from BlueCross (great, but expensive) to Mass Advantage. This is a local group based out of UMass, which is our hospital. We use all their doctors anyway, so I figured it might not be too calamitous.
I knew we’d have to call everyone and change information — including the pharmacy, doctors, hospital, and probably more. It has taken me two full hours to change a doctors appointment and test for Garry — and I’m sure, since I have so many more doctors, it will be even worse for me.
I did finally change our coverage information and scheduled a new appointment and test date — for next March — for Garry. He has a mild case of glaucoma, so the delay should not be a major problem. The real issue is he needs a lift back from the hospital. It would have been this week, but Owen can’t drive because he has a court date for which he has been waiting a long time. I don’t drive long distances anymore and haven’t in several years, so this task falls to Owen — who is only off on Wednesday and Sunday. No appointments on Sunday — so it had to be on a Wednesday and because neither Garry nor I move fast or early, in the afternoon.
Medical care in this country is not merely inadequate, it is also ridiculously and unnecessarily complicated. Lacking a centralized system for record keeping, ones medical history doesn’t follow you if you move or change insurance providers. If you are working, usually your company takes care of it (or not), but if you are on Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, every time you move, you’re lucky if you can even get hold of your records.
Every state and insurance company has its own software and computer interface which typically is incompatible with every other version of software — all of which does the same job. Each version is just different enough to make it impossible to electronically transfer data from one system to the next.
I’m not sure why we digitized all this data since it can’t be transferred electronically. That was, as far as I understand it — the whole point of computerization.
Not only is our medical data broken up state by state — we have 50 states — but typically is divided by insurance group. Even for Medicare plans and often, by hospital or medical group. Our medical data is fragmented at each turning point. Even if you don’t move, doctors move. Retire. Die. Change their own groups.
I have a crate of medical records that weighs about five pounds. I used to keep it in the car, but it has moved to the basement for lack of room in the trunk. Small car. Small trunk. Big box. If I lose it, I will have NO medical history.
I’m sure I’ll get this all sorted out. I’m just wondering how long it will take and how many hours on hold I will wait and how many times I’ll be disconnected. How many times will I hear this dreary message?
You are important to us. Please continue to hold.
This may (or may not) be followed by music. Bad music. Loud music. Or (my favorite) dead silence. You only know you’ve been disconnected when, after a long wait, you hear the dial tone.
I can only wonder — as do we all — how they would treat us if we were NOT important!