Should Have Taken My Own Advice
Watching the highly recommended retina specialist fumbling with his laptop and forgetting how to use the mouse to check my computerized file was when it first hit me. Why hadn't I taken my own advice? A routine eye appointment had given my eye doctor cause for some concern. He noticed something on my retina needing further examination and expertise. Now sitting in the office of the doctor recommended, I realized I may have moved a bit too hastily.
As a self-pay patient, I do have the advantage of choosing my own caregivers. Previously when searching for a dental specialist, I had been careful to not only call the doctor suggested but to also ask friends for other recommendations. That diligence had provided my family with a $730.00 savings and excellent medical care. I think it was my haste to get my own eye care process over with that I acted without sufficient thought. When I called this retina specialist's office, I was not duly impressed with the person I spoke with. Now certainly office staff do not necessarily reflect the services of the professional, however, they can project the attitude of the office. This should have been a caution light for me.
When I arrived for my first appointment, the amount I had been quoted changed to now include any other tests that might be warranted. I was asked to pay the upfront quoted amount which I did readily and then agreed to pay other charges if needed after seeing the doctor that day. Somehow I just knew there would be more charges and there were.
Obviously the elderly doctor was not at all computer savvy. Now I, too, bear this reputation, but I must say seeing your doctor not able to remember how to use the mouse connected to his laptop, well.....even for one as technologically impaired as myself, it could cause a bit of consternation. The doctor did seem to function quite well with the tests given to me and as one who is closer to elderly than youth, I understand that proficiency in life should not be bound by using technology. Years of medical experience really do count. Still it just made me consider that I should have investigated my options more carefully.
The fact that the doctor kept forgetting the details of my case whenever he returned to the examining room could very well have been just because he was also trying to see at least 10 or more other patients at the same time. Wouldn't you find keeping all that many patients medical details straight? So I gave him the benefit of this doubt.
The first appointment ends with the doctor giving me little information but the recommendation of another test. I explain I am self-pay and need to know if this is really necessary. He assures me the test is needed. I diligently seek to find the costs of the test and next appointment and Husband makes the decision we will go forward.
I will not bore you with all the resulting details. Let me just summarize my next visit with the fact that I stood strong in refusing to sign papers saying any balance from my visit would go to Medicare. What balance? Hadn't I paid up front for these services? And why didn't the young woman seem to grasp I was not eligible for Medicare and Medicare would not want my bills? Oh, and then what a surprise when a bill came in the mail for the balance due after I had so carefully made clear I was asking for the entire amount required for the doctor's services and which I had been asked to pay up front. (Somehow they had neglected to include the charge of the doctor.) Really? They didn't think I was asking for the charge, too?
The good news was the test showed what I had expected all along. The retina appears to be fine at this time. You see, I had done some of my own research and did not believe there was a real problem with my eye, but due to some serious retina issues in my extended family, I chose to be wise. I am not sorry I had my eye checked, just sorry I did not do a better job choosing "the checker."
You see, the doctor really was too busy to explain the why and what of his tests and evaluation. Even when I asked in the office for more detail, he just said everything was fine, but after the unexpected bill came, my frugal heart took charge. For my costs of $630.00 I wanted more of an understanding of what had been seen on the eye and a better definition of "fine." So I insisted on a call with more information which resulted in a call from the doctor and finally my questions were answered. Of course, not before the doctor tried to recommend I have the same test he had just given to me! Conflict does not come easy to me, but I have learned much by living my purposeful frugal life and that is to try at least to get what I have paid for.
Let me also be quick to share that I am grateful for the medical profession and have more positive experiences than the one just shared. I do think, however, it would be wise to consider the following advice:
Spend some time researching your own medical issue so that you know the questions to ask your caregiver and have some understanding of what your condition may be.
Keep a log of tests performed, medication prescribed and ask for copies to have for your own personal files.
Whenever possible, seek out recommendations of caregivers from others with similar medical concerns.
Ask for and expect to receive adequate information to understand whatever health issue you are being seen for.
Anyone else found had a recent experience where they should have taken their own advice?