Friday, October 7, 2011

Welcome to Government Health Care

I'm going to tell you a bit of a story. This may be boring, but it's true.

Without going into specifics as to why, I now have guardianship of my 14 year old nephew. He was and is on medicaid for his health care. Medicaid is the health care plan that is used by people that don't earn enough money to buy their own health insurance or are in a low income household where health insurance is not a benefit of a job that may be held by the parents.

Upon acquiring guardianship of my nephew, I wrote to my brother and asked him to drop the medicaid so that I could get coverage for him. When there is a medicaid program in place, insurance companies will not allow you to be insured through them.

Since my nephew (his name is Ryan) is a 14 year old boy, it can be expected that there will be a need for doctors at various times for various reasons, whether it be regular exams and checkups or sports physicals or injury. Ryan is no exception and has proven it. He's playing football. Not having heard from my brother regarding this health plan, I've been waiting and probably even anticipating that first problem. Well, that problem has arisen.

On Tuesday of this week, in gym class, Ryan jammed his finger on a football. He didn't do this on the football team but did it in gym class. So apparently, he's been an accident waiting to happen. He gym teacher taped his pinky to his ring finger. It swelled, and got worse over the next two days. Wednesday night, he complained that his entire arm hurt. I told him to take a couple of motrin and to keep his hand above his heart. So on Thursday, I decided he needed to see the doctor. Then the real fun began.

The first step is to call the doctor. Not knowing how the medicaid works since I've never dealt with it, I told the doctors office that I wanted to bring Ryan in, but wanted to know if they were able to take his medicaid for their payment, and if they could look him up to get the number for his plan. First they said that Ryan would be a new patient. He'd been to them for his sports physical, but apparently that didn't remove the "new patient" status from him. I'm not sure why that would matter anyway. Then they told me I'd have to call the Department of Human Services (DHS) to get his medicaid information. They then said that they would call me back and let me know if they can see him.

Naturally, I raised my eyebrows at this. Someone who depends on patients for a living is possibly not going to see a 14 year old kid that may have broken his finger and is in pain? Oh well, I had to call DHS so I'd wait for their call back. In the meantime, I called DHS.

Now it gets real fun....or aggravating. I called the State DHS. It rang about three times, then the phone disconnected. Ok, this happens sometimes, so I'll just try again. Same result.

So I looked up the county that Ryan used to live in to call their DHS. I got a voice mail. If you are calling for this...push one, if for that, push 2 and so on. I pushed the button. The same voice came on again, this time much more faded. I get a whole new set of options to choose from. Found my option, pushed the button, and that same voice, even more faded started giving me more options to choose from. I couldn't hear what the options were, so I pushed zero. The phone rang again. And again, and again. I hung up after about the tenth ring and started the process over again. Same results. Push the option choice, and get the fading voice with each new set of options.

In Michigan, they have a thing called Mi Child. A catchy little ditty for My Child. I went online and looked that up, and found the medicaid program with it. This was to apply for these programs. But there was a number with it. So I called and actually spoke to a live human being.

Let me pause here. This process of finding these different places and following the prompts has taken me about 50 minutes so far. But finally, I got someone that wasn't a computerized voice mail. I was told that I had to call the DHS in my county since Ryan was now living with me. She gave me the number and I thanked her and called my county DHS.

Called my county DHS and they told me I had to call the county DHS where Ryan was registered. They gave me a number. I called it. They told me I had to call the State DHS and gave me a number. I called it. They sent me back to Ryan's old county DHS (yes, I'd already been there a couple of times), and they gave me yet another number to call.

His old county DHS sent me back to the state DHS with yet another phone number. Again, I was pushed off. So I called my county DHS again and this time, I told the operator the process I had gone through. She put me through to the "screener". Voicemail. Called again and this time, told the operator (different operator) my story and she put me through to the "screener" again. This time, I got a live person. I told my story yet again.

She said she couldn't give me any information on Ryan's plan because I was not listed on there, that only his dad could get it. One thing with each person that I spoke to that I haven't mentioned is that my brother has not cancelled anything and has not returned my calls or letters. They all said that he's committing fraud by not cancelling it out and should be charged.

After hearing this several times and telling them that I'm not interested in prosecuting I finally said to this last person, 'if you want to prosecute him for fraud, have at it, but right now, I have a kid with a possible broken finger and I'm trying to get him to a doctor that seems to be balking at seeing the kid, and using the system in place to pay for the bill of taking care of this finger if anyone ever decides that a 14 year old is worthy enough to be seen'.

It's now 10:00 a.m. I've been making these calls since 8:30. 90 minutes of phone calls! I think I've been more than patient with all of these dolts. Then I said, "look, I'm only interested in getting his policy number. This kid is in some pain due to this finger injury. If you're going to give me the number, give it to me, otherwise I'll just write a check to the doctor and pay for it out of my own pocket!'  She gave me the number.

As if like clockwork, when I hung up the doctors office called. They said, "we may be able to see him at 3:15." I said, "May?" I said, "if you don't want to see him, I can take him to the witch doctor down the road. I'm going to pick him up from school and bring him in an hour. If that's not good for you, turn a 14 year old kid in pain, away." This is a town of maybe 1,000 people. Did they all get sick today?

We arrived at the doctors office. They don't have an x-ray machine in their clinic, but that's okay because they don't accept the plan Ryan is on anyway. So they sent us to another urgent care clinic.

We saw a doctor. They took his temperature, measured him, weighed him and the doctor looked at it and said "I don't know if it's broken. It may be. We don't have an X-ray machine so I'm going to send you to the hospital and they can X-ray it and to just take Motrin with food."  I've been doing that for two days already! I needed this hassle to be told to do what I've been doing??!!??

Off we went to the hospital. They, like the others, took all of the information on Ryan. Ryan is now in every system in the midwest. They took the X-rays and said that someone would call me later. No waiting to find out. No option if it's broken to have it splinted or a cast put on. Just pretty much a "see you later." So I asked the girl if it was broken. She said the radiologist would have to read it. I said, "you see these things every day and you've obviously worked at this for a few years, just tell me if you think it's broken." She said she couldn't do that, that she could lose her license. I promised not to tell. She wouldn't talk. Apparently, if Ryans finger is broken, it's a state secret.

It is now 9:25 a.m. on Friday. I have not heard anything yet about his finger.

So why this long drawn out recitation of the events of one 14 year old kid with an injured pinky? This is government health care! This is the inefficiency of doctors and doctors offices! This is what we can expect in three years whe government health care takes over.

I can't cancel Ryan's insurance through the government because I didn't sign him up. But it's my tax dollars paying for it. I can't get normal insurance on Ryan because the state medicaid program has him in their clutches.

What happens when you go to a business and you can't get the product you want due to inefficiency or just plain old poor service? You go to another company to do your business that's better, don't you? Well, I can't do that with health care because the government controls the process and the products and the procedures.

Don't we constantly hear from government officials and elected officials that we must do these things "for the children"?

Government does two things correctly. Only two. First, they operate the military, which is their primary job and they do it well. The other thing they do well? Well, it took me going through this process to figure out the other thing they do well. That is that they are the best at screwing up everything else they touch!

So what happens to Ryan's finger? If I don't get a response and results today by the time he gets home from school, I'm taking the tape off of his finger, grabbing a flat piece of wood and making a splint and taping that to his finger and leaving it until it starts feeling better and giving him motrin for the next couple of days and hope that it doesn't get worse. If it improves, I might start referring to myself as Dr. Brett.

You're welcome to comment.


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