“Blue Cross used to be the gold standard of healthcare.”
That is what a friend of mine said to me last month as he articulated his frustration with increasing premiums and declining service. I’m not so sure about the “gold standard” thing but I will say that it seems like my recent dealings with big blue have been more frustrating than they used to be.
Then again, I didn’t used to think much about health insurance. For me it was just like automobile insurance or homeowners insurance. I was happy just to have it and I hoped I’d never really need it.
Sadly that is no longer the case. As I have gotten older heath insurance has become more important because that is what drives the quality of health care I receive and that care begins with my primary care physician.
My previous primary care doc was a good guy. His office, on the other hand, was a nightmare. It was common to sit in his waiting room for at least half and hour after arriving for a scheduled appointment. When I’d finally be ushered into an exam room I’d typically wait another twenty minutes before actually seeing him. I’d then get about ten minutes of quality time. In return for this privilege I paid my big blue insurance company over $300 per month.
I put up with this situation until it literally became unhealthy. A little over a year ago I came home from my morning run and was feeling pretty beat up. At Mama Wordbones insistence I scheduled an appointment with my doc for later that week. When he finally entered the exam room for our “quality time” I told him that my chest felt tight and I was feeling generally lethargic.
“Stop running and see me again in a week.”
Three days later I had a heart attack. I never saw him again. After some research I found a new primary care doc.
Now my doc has decided to move his practice to a non insurance model. He will no longer deal with big blue or any other insurance company for that matter. He does not believe that the insurance reimbursement model allows him to deliver quality care to his patients. If I want to continue seeing him I will need to pay him directly. I have decided that this makes perfect sense for me.
And the response of my big blue insurance company?
They’ve told me I need to pick another primary care physician.
You can read this month’s column here.
The Fierce Urgency of Now
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