Adventures with the health care system

Far be it from me to have anything negative to say about Obamacare. I believe that it is a great thing that everyone in the country now has access to medical care, at least theoretically. But it has had some impacts to us we didn’t expect. I’ll be getting to that in a bit.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that we have already had some adventures with the medical system. My husband got bit by one of our cats when he was trying to capture it in Austin, and he visited an emergency room in Fort Stockton on the way out and ended up in the hospital for three days when we got here because of infection from the bite. It turns out that cat bites are somewhat toxic.

But another problem was his Medicare. He has been retired for almost 11 years, and during that time, I insured him through my work. He had to apply for Medicare Part A, but our insurance did not require him to apply for Part B, so he didn’t. But my insurance that I get as part of my retirement requires both of us to be on Part B. I applied for social security online and Medicare Parts A and B at the same time, and my cards came through in a miraculous three weeks. But Wayne had to apply on paper, because he had to get a form completed by my workplace showing that he had been insured by them up until now and his insurance was ending. There was a delay getting this paper signed, because I had to have submitted my resignation and my resignation had to have been accepted by my management before they would complete it, and there was some fiddling with dates for a while because of various factors at work.

Before he left Austin, though, my husband dropped off his Part B application at the social security office. Then to be sure they got it, he also mailed it to Baltimore (or wherever). His mistake was in not getting the form he dropped off date stamped, because apparently both went astray.

I may have mentioned that about a month after we arrived, I found out that my husband had practically shut down from an inability to deal with some outstanding issues. One was that he was late filing for our extended income tax (which he gets an extension for every year for some reason I do not understand, maybe just because he’s a procrastinator), and the other was the Medicare issue. So, that day, we went to the social security office in Vancouver. We spent two hours there, one waiting and one getting things done. I have to say that the guy who helped us was nice, apologetic, and effective, because by the next day, Wayne’s Medicare was showing up with our insurance agents.

Because, of course, our insurance turned him down for not having the Medicare. He had talked to them once and they had given him until January 1 to get it straightened out, but we did not know that we should have also discussed this with our retirement agency, because they cancelled his insurance.

So, knowing it would be useless to expect my husband to take care of this, I spent another two hours on the phone with my retirement agency and our insurance. Everyone was responsive and helpful except, I regret to say, the woman at the retirement agency, who was the only person to get chippy with me. She basically said there was nothing to be done until January. So, I got chippy with her, telling her she was behaving as if this was our fault, that this wasn’t our fault, it was the Federal government’s. And what do you know? There was something to be done. By the time I got off the phone, my husband had insurance.

But the fun part hadn’t started yet. It was time to find a medical provider. Here’s where Obamacare comes in. It turns out that this area has been flooded by people wanting to find doctors who had for years been using the emergency room for their medical care. In addition, very few places took our insurance. I spent a whole afternoon calling clinics to find someone who would take our insurance, Medicare, and new patients. The best I could do was to get an appointment to get an appointment at a place with a two-month waiting list. They took our information and said someone would call me in 7 to 10 days to let me know when we might be able to get in. (I was not sure if I would actually get an appointment then or not.)

I still hadn’t heard from them yesterday, and it seemed that 7-10 days had passed, although I stupidly didn’t write down the date that I signed up with them. I called them yesterday, and it turns out that my first call to them was two weeks ago, so they were overdue. But the person I talked to this time was far less helpful than the first person and just told me she would tell “her” that I called but didn’t know when she would get back to me. I will wait a couple of days and try again, because once we really get into the holidays, things could be delayed by several weeks. So, we may not have a doctor until, say, February.

It also turns out that the number was listed as being in Battle Ground (the nearest town) but that office had closed, so we were going to have to go to Vancouver, and not close by in Vancouver, either. And, our insurance is changing again in January. This clinic will take our new insurance, but I wonder if it would be worthwhile to go back and call clinics again to see if they take the other insurance.

Ah, the fun just gets to be more and more. Tomorrow, I will have to call my doctor in Austin to get my prescriptions extended until we have a new doctor.

On the weather front, more snow all weekend, although it is melted today. Unfortunately, at least at this time, it doesn’t look like we’ll have a white Christmas.

Things that have gone wrong since we got here

I have been waiting to show you a picture of the truck we drove from Texas. It wouldn’t import into my iPad when I was posting from there. But I finally have internet access.

  1. Just to recap, we had to drive a HUGE truck from Texas and my husband hit some poor guy’s car at the gas station. The truck was fine.

    One ginormous truck
    One ginormous truck
  2. My husband was in the hospital for three days, starting the day we got here. (Tell me why they have designed this style so that the text is indented but the numbersĀ are not. I don’t think I can control this.)
  3. I noticed my heart was beating rapidly every night but thought it was because of the stress. It turns out that during the medication fiasco (which I might have forgotten to mention—the packers packed all our daily medication in a box and then didn’t know where it was; I thought that my husband was taking care of it, but he wasn’t), when we had to reorder our medications, one was forgotten, my blood pressure medicine. I didn’t have any for a week. I found out about it the day that my husband got out of the hospital, when I mentioned my problem and he told me. So, after midnight one night, we spent an hour trying to find a 24-hour pharmacy and drove to Vancouver to get my medication refilled.
  4. The internet guy took more than two weeks to come and troubleshoot our internet problems. He was finally here today. It took him hours to get things straightened out, so this is going to cost us a fortune. BTW, every single day the internet company told us he was coming. It turns out he only works in our area two days a week.
  5. I bought a very expensive leather couch only to find a scratch in it when it arrived. (Believe me, this is a very minor problem.) The guy fixed it today.
  6. I bought a dryer with a pedestal. When the dryer came, the pedestal was damaged. I had been waiting two weeks to do my laundry, and I got a choice between sending the dryer back or keeping it BUT NOT USING IT, as the policy was that they would only install a new dryer on the pedestal when it comes. So, tomorrow I’m taking my laundry to my niece’s.
  7. The guys who are supposed to help us empty our pods were too late to come tonight. They aren’t coming for three more days, but again, this is very minor compared to some of the other things.
  8. My Medicare prescription program turned me down because I didn’t answer some mail I don’t even know if I got. Believe me, things have been chaos around here. So, I got to spend the first three hours of the day on the phone with the prescription program, our retirement agency, and the federal government. Apparently, it’s against the law to move at the same time you retire (just kidding).
  9. A small complaint, but my husband’s idea of unpacking is to take everything out of a box and cover some surface with it. This is called “organizing,” and apparently a week later the things are still being organized. I have cleaned off the kitchen counters three times now.

I have probably forgotten a few things, as it seems as if something goes wrong every day. I feel like I have my own personal thundercloud over my head. On the positive side, today was beautiful, sunny, and in the 60’s. Yay for the Pacific Northwest!