Before I start grousing, let me be clear about a couple of things.
First, the medical team at Georgetown Hospital is totally awesome.
Second, I like my doctor and I got to keep my doctor … mostly because I’m still working.
But, I’ve discovered that insurance and access aren’t synonymous …. and that appointment slots are getting scarcer and scarcer.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve had personal experiences that have me a bit worried …
First, I called over to my primary physician’s office to arrange for a flu shot … from my doctor, or from another doctor, or from a Resident, or from a nurse … I didn’t care … it’s a flu shot, not a lobotomy.
In the past, I was able to get a flu appointment for “tomorrow or the day after”.
Not this year …
I was told that the earliest slot available was in 7 weeks.
Apparently, I have insurance … but not access.
After some bullying, I was able to get an appointment in a couple of days.
But, it took a battle royale.
And, when I showed up for the appointment, they let me cool my jets in the waiting room for about an hour … even though my appointment was for just a flu shot that was to be given by a nurse, not my primary care doc..
Think these scenes will become increasingly common?
I’m betting the over on that one.
Then, there’s my experience with the Fed health plan administrators.
It was time to sign my wife up for Medicare.
I tried to sign her up online, but couldn’t since she’s a spouse trading on my account.
Waited on the phone for 40 minutes and got a polite dude who took all of our personal information.
After about 15 minutes of spewing our information to the Medicare guy, he says “now we have to make an appointment for you to sign up>”
I say: “What the hell have I been doing for the past 15 minutes?”
He says: “You need an appointment to finish the process … which Social Security office is nearest to you?”
I say: “How the hell should I know?”
He looks it up (playing the game under protest) and tells me that the first available appointment is in 8 weeks.
(Geez, that’s even longer than it takes to get an appointment with my primary care doc.)
I get a bit testy and he says “If you’d prefer, I can set up a phone appointment for you to finish the process.”
“OK, what’s the earliest slot for a phone interview”
“8 weeks …”
“8 weeks … just like an office visit???”
“OK, put me down for 8 weeks from now.”
Apparently the new normal planning horizon is 7 to 8 weeks for routine procedures.
Plot shift: I learned that Social Security has a few walk-in slots each day””.
We walked in without an appointment and only waited about 1/2 to meet with an agent … and finished the application process … by giving her exactly the same info that I gave the dude on the phone.
At the end of the interview we asked her to cancel our phone appointment. She winced but said OK”
About 8 weeks later, we received 2 letters and 2 robo-calls reminding us of our phone appointment.
I dread the day that I’ll be working through these jabrones to get clearance for some major medical procedure.
I’m wondering: how many people will die waiting for the Fed’s health bureaucracy to approve a procedure … or, just die while on “hold” waiting to speak to the bubble-gum popping bureaucrat.
As I said, I’ve seen the future of health care … and, it isn’t pretty