Insurance Plan Change Forces Change Of Doctors
The new year continues its run of good news as I found out that none of the health care options (the ones I can remotely afford anyway) that are available to me under our organization’s new health insurance plans, allow me to continue with the team that has been currently treating my Hepatitis C.
As several of the recent posts have detailed, our organization changed its health insurance broker and plans for the upcoming year. In order to save money (and I can’t really argue with this as the insurance costs for the organization have risen 40% for this year), they subscribed to Blue Cross “Select” and Heathnet “Silver” insurance plans in addition to the standard Kaiser Permanente plans that have been offered for years. While initial and even follow-up research indicated that my doctors were contracted with both Blue Cross and Healthnet the final determination that came through the brokers was that, while they are contracted to both Blue Cross and Healthnet, they are not contracted with the two stripped-down plans that our organization subscribes to. I could subscribe to a PPO that includes my doctors, but the monthly cost would total more that $4,000 per year, plus the $4,800 in yearly drug co-payments, plus very high deductibles on any medical procedures and hospitalizations that might occur and I just can’t afford to pay those kinds of fees on my income here in one of the most expensive cities in America.
On the positive side, I still have health insurance. It will be through Kaiser Permanente and will be funded by my employer. Kaiser does good work and has good doctors. Even the treatment nurse who has been handling my care at California Pacific Medical Center, was hired away by Kaiser and he is top-notch. The only problem is whether I can manage the transfer of my treatment to Kaiser during the relatively small window of time until my prescriptions run out. I have to get a primary care doctor, have him refer me to a hepatologist, have my records transferred and have my meds continued during a time period of about 20 days. I get to find out how much stress and complication I can handle with a Swiss cheese brain and a 30-day supply of anti-depressants. But that’s the modern world we all have to cope with, so the best thing to do is buckle down and dive in, to mix up some metaphors.
There are lots of people in much worse shape than I am. There are folks with the disease and no health insurance who depend on the largesse of drug companies or aid programs. There are people on waiting lists for liver transplants that are watching their window of opportunity close on them. There are people even with health insurance who are paying huge chunks of their income or going into debt to get access to treatment. I am in none of those positions and I appreciate that more than I can say. I would just like to get some good news at the start of the year. Maybe the Giants will trade for a right-handed bat, the Niners will sign a quarterback, or the Warriors will make the play-offs. I can feel my immune system recharging already.