I’m not taking sides in the health care debate, but I do want to clarify something.
I see people on the news screaming that they don’t want “bureaucrats” between them and their doctor, and are afraid that’s what government health care will bring.
WTF? THAT’S THE WAY IT IS NOW, PEOPLE!!! I hear my nurse Annie on the phone all day trying to get approval from non-government insurance companies for tests, medications, physical therapy, ANYTHING that I order.
Look at your insurance card. Doesn’t it say things like “in-network” and “formulary”? Who the hell do you think came up with those? Not us docs. Dat be dem dere byoo-row-kratz!
Look back at some of my posts (like this, or this). I routinely have medications (both brand name and cheap generics) and tests refused by insurance companies. For an excellent commentary on this from the pharmacy side, this was written by FranticPharmacist.
So if you don’t want bureaucrats between you and your doctor- TOO BAD. They’ve been there for years. THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE THIS PROBLEM ARE PAYING CASH FOR EVERYTHING!
In fact, for those of you who don’t want the government running this, THEY ARE ACTUALLY ONE OF THE BETTER ONES TO WORK WITH! Just ask Annie. Medicare doesn’t question the majority of my tests, or meds. Yes, they don’t cover everything, nor should they, but they don’t fight with me over stuff like MRI’s on stroke patients. Uncle Sam (unlike Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and many others) tends to leave these things to the doctor’s discretion. Annie prefers Medicare patients for this very reason – they make her life easier.
So what happens to you the way it works NOW, with your non-government insurance?
You come to me for some neurological issue, which requires further work-up. So I order, say, an MRI and MRA of your head.
Annie gets the order, and calls Bozo Insurance, Inc. (BII) to schedule it. BII refuses, saying they want more information. So they fax us a 5 page “pre-auth” form, which Annie spends 20 minutes filling out and faxes back. Then they say the form wasn’t enough, and they also want copies of your office notes, so we send those, too (yup, when you joined BII you agreed that they can read your medical records).
So a few days go by. BII will claim they never got our fax. Or that we filled the form out wrong. Or that they don’t cover Capricorns when the moon is in Pisces. And we don’t know this until Annie calls back after a few days, because they’re hoping we forgot about it.
Eventually they’ll deny the whole thing, on the grounds that you don’t meet criteria for an MRI and MRA. This decision is usually made by a non-medically trained person with a minimum of a GED. They do this because they want to see just how badly I want the test.
So they tell me I can appeal this via “peer-to-peer” review. Which means I need to personally call their “physician reviewer” to argue with them as to why I want the study.
So, during my insanely busy day at the office I have to call them. I’m promptly put on hold for 10 minutes, before finally reaching the reviewer. This person is a doctor- but NOT necessarily in my specialty. In fact, it’s usually something like a retired dermatologist, who hasn’t done neurology since medical school in 1938. Or an OB/GYN who hated his job, and is doing this now instead. Or some doctor who immigrated from Lower Swazbodiaczk and can’t get a U.S. medical license (but your insurance company hired him to decide what medical care you need). But it’s almost NEVER someone actually in my field, who might understand why I want the study.
So after telling your life history to Dr. Denial, one of 2 things will happen. They’ll deny both studies, and want you to try medication or physical therapy or psychotherapy or holistic reflexology or whatever, and if you fail that THEN I can try to resubmit a request for the test. OR they will flip a coin and say they will cover the MRI, but not the MRA. Or vice-versa. They’ll say that if the first test is fine, THEN I can start over trying to get the other covered. Maybe.
And many of these companies actually pay these “reviewers” bonuses based on HOW MUCH MONEY THEY SAVED THE COMPANY BY DENYING TESTS.
If you want to read the funny part you gotta follow the link.