Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Twighlight Zone: A positive experience navigating the health world....

So, with the Peace Corps nomination comes the absolutely terrifying part... the medical evaluation.

Today, I got to see everything I need done, not actually a bad list, and probably a lot of stuff people should have done every once in a while anyways. Yes it means a few extra doctor appointments and a few more needles than usual, but, and I think for the first time ever, I'm sort of excited to do it. I'm not usually big on positive thinking, but in this case, I can't seem to conceive of not getting to do this. And while I'm wary of things that are too perfect, I really want this.

So I decided to start with something easy: hunting down my immunization records. Most normal people probably have these somewhere in a file folder. But due to the fact that I'm a travel junkie, I've probably had about 50 million times more immunizations than the normal person. The last time I think I got like 6 different ones. And they all got written down on this little card that was to stay with my passport. This little card did not survive the border check, I believe into Cambodia. I find this pretty amusing on some levels... So, the options are lie about what I've been immunized for and on what dates(b/c I don't really remember), get all the vaccines again ($), or go through the epic battle of fumbling through medical record offices, slicing through red tape, and hoping that they even keep this info on file. Oh, and I couldn't even remember where I got this done at. Amazingly, the hardest part of all this was messaging a friend and saying, "what is the place next to Arby's in Oakland where you get immunizations done?" County Health Department. I only had a main phone number; I prepared for the epic wait and phone maze. With in seconds of dialing and explaining I got an, "Sure, let me transfer you to the clinic."... Where the woman was like, just fax me a letter that says I can release your info to you. No form or anything. The whole thing took all of 5 minutes. I was in shock.

I then proceeded to call up my insurance company to see what they would cover, again prepared to be sitting on the phone with horribly unhelpful people. After arguing with the machine over whether I was saying "Y" or "9" for my id number, I was definitely mentally prepared to take on the customer rep. I explained what I needed done, gave her a list of the tests, and she was like, "yeah, they should all be billed as routine services and covered 100% through a participating provider." ... "let me just go ahead and pull up the list to double check for you."... "did you have a doctor in mind, I can check that for you too."... OMG she didn't send me to the internet to look up my own provider.

This whole experience has put me in a state of total shock. Enough so, that I thought I should share it with you all, since I'm sure most of you out there are like me, and used to the angry frustrating experiences of dealing w/ insurance and medical reps.

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