Friday, August 08, 2008

Pain in the Neck

For the past 2 weeks I have had bad neck pain and it has gotten worse over time. I'm not sure if this is remnants from my accident in December or perhaps I injured turning my head really quick to check out some girl at the mall.

So I finally decided to make an appointment with the doctor. Unfortunately, my doctor recently kicked all UnitedHealth patients out of his practice because UHC only pays the doctors $3.14 for any claims. It would take 300,000 office visits for a doctor to make his first million. So just to confirm that he no longer accepts UHC, I called to ask.

Do you still accept UHC?
No, but you can still come to our office and we will bill you. You pay us then you can settle your claim with UHC and hope they reimburse you.
So, I pay over $4000 per year in health insurance and you want me to gamble with being reimbursed? I think the Maryland Constitution says we cannot gamble yet.

So I make an appointment with my old doctor, Mrs. Nopersonality. I got a quick appointment, but because I hadn't been there in 6 years, they threw out all my records. Therefore, I had to complete 45 forms asking everything from Are you a smoker? to Did you ever get a rug burn when you were 3? And then there's the 18 pages of the privacy notice that you must read and sign. And then they will send you the harassing reminders every other month in the mail telling you how they respect your privacy.

I finally get into the office and Dr. Nopersonality comes in. She asks me what the problem is and I tell her my neck is hurting and getting worse and I cannot rotate my neck to my shoulder any longer. She then takes my vitals and says that I have a heart murmur.

I know this. It was discovered when I was in the hospital when I was 11.
You need to get an echocardiogram to make sure you're not getting ready to have a massive heart attack and drop dead. And Advanced Radiology wants that $3.14.
What about my neck?
Hear, take these pills. (she has not touched my neck or asked me to turn or demonstrate anything. This is all based on my word.)
But I can't turn my neck.
Okay, go to Advanced Radiology and get an MRI.

I call Advanced Radiology.
I need to schedule an appointment for an MRI.
What kind?
Cervical Spine.
Who's your insurance company?
UnitedHealth Care.
Great. Another $3.14. What's your authorization number?
My what?
Authorization number.
What's that?
The number that authorizes you to get an MRI.
Well, duh. How do I get one?
Your doctor has to get it for you.

Now I'm back on the phone to Dr. Nopersonality's office.
I called Advanced Radiology and they said I need an authorization number.
You don't need an authorization number.
They said I do.
Let me check. Okay, we can get you an authorization number. It will take 10-14 business days. The doctor has to call it in.
Did I mention that my neck hurts? In 10-14 business days my head will fall off.
We have no control over this. That's how long it takes.

Now I'm on the phone to UnitedHealth Care.
I need an MRI and the radiologist said I need an authorization number.
You don't need an authorization number.
But that's what Advanced Radiology said. So how do I convince them otherwise?
Did you try sending them $3.14?

Now I'm back on the phone with Advanced Radiology.
I need to schedule an MRI.
Can I have your information. (information is exchanged - no mention of an authorization number. And hell if I'm going to bring it up!)
Are you a welder?
Are you a welder?
No, why?
Do you work with sheet metal?
No, I stare at a computer and play on Facebook all day. Why?
People that work with metal usually cannot get an MRI because the metal will get sucked out during the procedure. Kind of like Aliens. Do you have a pace maker?
I'm 35.
Do you have a pacemaker?
No. Do a lot of 35 year old's have pacemakers?
Stay with me, sir. Do you have a shunt?
Why, yes I do.
Where is it?
In my side with attaches to the spine, and the valve has tubing that dumps excess fluid into the abdominal cavity.
Is it metal or plastic?
I don't know. I was 12 when they did it.
Who was the doctor that performed the operation?
I was 12. And sick. Maybe....Dr. Robinson???
What's his first name?
Again, I was 12. It was 24 years ago.
Where was it done?
University of Maryland Hospital.
We'll have to contact them to get the information. We'll call you back.

Several days now pass. I have not heard from them.
Hi, I'm calling to see if you got the information that you needed from the University of Maryland about my spinal shunt?
No, since it was in 1984, the records are in storage. They need a written authorization to retrieve your records.
Were you going to call and tell me that they needed written authorization?
Okay, then what do I need to do?
Go to the University of Maryland hospital and complete an Authorization for the Release of Medical Information Form.
I have to go there and do that?
What do you mean "No"?
We could do it for you.
But we need you to come to Westminster to complete the form.
double Gasssssp.
Can you fax it to me?
Oh, sure! Not a problem! What's your fax number?
You were going to make me drive to UMH, but you can fax it to me?
What was your fax number?
(passing of information)
How long with this take?
Just a few days. We'll call you when it's ready.

Several more days pass. Neck is getting tighter. And more painful. Time to call again.
Advanced can I help you?
Yes, I'm calling to see if you have received the medical records from University of Maryland Hospital.
Let's see. No. We have no record that you requested this information?
We have no....
I heard that. I spoke to Sally Dontgiveashit on Monday and she said she was going to fax the form to the records department to get the information.
Well, she's on vacation until the middle of next week. You can call back on Friday and....
Isn't there someone else that can do this?
How can I do this myself?
You can call the UMH.

Yes, I need to know how to retrieve my medical records from when I was 12 in 1984.
You need to complete a form which we can mail to you. Once you receive it, mail it back and in 10-14 business days we'll send the records to you. Oh, and it costs $21.16.
And 16 cents?
That's correct sir!
Do patients normally request this information?
Do medical facilities normally request this information?
Do you ever provide additional information other than the direct question?
Okay, would you be able to tell if Advanced Radiology requested my records?
Do you want me to do that now?
No, next week would be better.
Yes, could you do that for me now? I would really appreciate it.
Okay, hold on.
(time passes slowly)
Sir? We have no record of Advanced Radiology requesting this information.
Thank you.

Another call back to Advanced Radiology.
Yes, I just called and was tyring to do your job for you. I need to coordinate the transfer of my medical records from UNH to you.
Your name?
Okay, you must have spoken to someone else. I see that you called on Monday and we got the form that you faxed to us for the Authorization For the Release of Medical Information.
Ah! Now we're getting somewhere.
We faxed it to UMH yesterday.
Yesterday? That's 3 days after I faxed it to you.
It's better than it used to be.
Well, UMH has no records of you requesting this information. And did I mention my neck? It hurts.
Would you like me to try faxing it again?
Okay. It'll be 10-14 business days and $3.14. We'll call you when we hear back from them.

Shoot me now or shoot me later? The entire medical community needs to be drug out into the streets and shot. Who designed this system? And what makes it worse is that they can be the biggest jack-off fuck-ups in the world and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. You need them. They don't need you. So who gets screwed? That's righ.


s_baghaii said...

Wow, you really are a pain in the neck.

Is it a muscle pain or what? If it is muscular, would going and paying $60 for a massage be easier than what you are doing. ;)

Eludius said...

I'm not sure what it is. The hypercondriach part of me thinks it's either a pinched nerve, a slipped disk, or brain cancer. The logical side of me thinks it's just a pinched nerve.

Anonymous said...

What you may be suffering from is a major case of TMJ. It will effect neck movement and cause pain. Take a look at, I think you might find the info useful to rule out a brain tumor.

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