Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why I believe in Health Care Reform.

I'm usually a republican. I'm also self employed which means I have to cover my own insurance. I can't be on my husbands insurance. It costs $835 dollars a month for me because I am of childbearing age. This ticks me off because 1. I don't require $835 dollars a month in health care and 2. We can't afford it and his employer won't look for more affordable insurance. I applied for Indiana's Healthy Indiana Plan which is a state run affordable insurance program but found out we make too much money to qualify for it. SO, I carry my own insurance (currently through Anthem) and pay a hefty monthly premium for it. It only covers major medical and has a $5000 deductible. All other expenses...doc visits, prescriptions, vaccines, prenatal and childbirth are all out of pocket expenses. MY POCKET. Mind you.

Consequently, I don't really go to our family doctor very often. I reserve going to him for major issues such as my thyroid problem because of the expense. I often don't seek treatment for minor things. I just muscle my way through it. When I do need treatment, I rely a lot on Minute Clinics or Med Checks as they usually cost less than a regular doctors office. (although I am often only seen by a Nurse Practitioner and there are only a handful of ailments they can treat)

On the Monday before Christmas, I started getting a sore throat. On Tuesday, it was really bad and I had white stuff in my throat. I suspected strep. Hey. I'm a mom. I know what strep looks like. I started taking some left over antibiotics I had been given last spring as a precaution but didn't need. (had a sinus infection. Doc thought it was viral but gave me antibiotics to take if it didn't clear up. Never needed to use them) 500 mg of Amox. twice a day. I had enough to take it for 8 days. By Saturday, I was feeling fine. Which was good because I really didn't want to spend the couple hundred dollars it was going to cost me to go to the doctor around Christmas. Like it or not, cost and how bad I feel go hand in hand. If I think I can tough it out, I usually do. The whole next week? I felt fine as well. I thought I was over it.

By New Year's day evening, my throat started hurting again. I was like CRAP. I don't know if I never got rid of the strep or if I caught it again because several of the daycare kids had it the week prior. On Saturday, the 2nd, I woke up and my throat was SO swollen I could barley breath. My lymph nodes were huge, my uvula was so big, it was touching the back of my tongue. And I had a fever of 102. A quick look at Web. MD said that if your lymph nodes are swollen (check) and if you are having trouble breathing (check) and a fever (check) medical attention immediately. What does seek medical attention immediately mean to you?? To me? It means the emergency room. Plus, I didn't feel like trying to call around to all the med checks and to see which one had the cheapest price. The Minute Clinic in the local CVS wasn't open yet, either.

I took 4 ibuprofen (800 mg) and drove myself to the emergency room. (Greg and the kids were at a family Christmas). By the time I got there, I was feeling a little better. The fever had gone down and the swelling had subsided a bit from the Ibuprofen.

I told the ER doc that I was pretty sure I had strep the week before, I had been exposed to it again after stopping taking antibiotics and that my throat was so swollen, I could barely breathe which is why I came to the emergency room. The doc was rude. Said my glands were pretty swollen but that my air way wasn't constricted. Also, she said that since my temp was only 99...I didn't really have a fever. I explained about the Ibuprofen that I had taken about an hour before and that it was probably kicking in. She said my throat was red and lymph nodes were swollen but that doesn't mean strep. In fact, she said it was more likely that I had a virus like mono because of the swollen lymph nodes and the fact that I had been sick for over 2 weeks....But that she'd do a rapid strep test anyway.

She sent in a nurse to do the test and the nurse barely touched my throat and said they'll know in about 10 minutes. An hour later, the doc came back in and said my test was negative. I asked her to do the strep culture. She said she would but it was a waste of money because she was pretty sure I had a virus such as mono. Told her it was MY MONEY to waste and wanted the culture. She reluctantly agreed. She said the culture will be done in 48 hrs and that they would call me with the results. She also asked me where I would want a prescription sent if I need one...I told her Meijer because antibiotics are free. She didn't believe me and told me that I'm going to have to pay for them, nobody gives meds away for free. She gave me a shot of cortisone for the swollen glands and sent me on my way with diagnosis of a viral sore throat. No other treatment required.

I cried all the way home because I was so frustrated and still feeling really sick. Plus, I felt stupid that I had went to the ER for a viral sore throat. I also still suspected that I had strep. Once home, I dug through my cabinet and found six 875 mg penicillin pills left over from my brother and one left over from my son when he had his teeth pulled. I started taking those and figured if I started feeling better by the next day, my suspicion was correct. On Sunday, I was feeling TONS better. I decided to go ahead and continue to watch kids that week. Maybe I was just being paranoid. My daycare parents would be furious if I told them I couldn't watch their kids all week because I MIGHT have strep throat...even though a doctor and a test said I didn't.

By Tuesday, I still hadn't heard from the doc but I felt 100%. I was starting to wonder if the the ER doc was right about my viral sore throat/mono diagnosis. However, I knew that if I did indeed have strep, it may come back. I hadn't heard from the hospital yet. I figured I had missed the call from the doc. I knew calling the hospital would be a big pain in the butt so I called Meijer to see if a prescription had been called in for me. NOPE.

I called the Hospital. I was transferred a hundred times and finally somebody said they would check into my culture and call me back.

Wednesday...I waited for the call but I still felt pretty good.

Thursday...Still no call and still felt good.

Friday...Still no call so I called back, was transferred a hundred times, left a message on the pathology department voice mail. I was tired, had a headache and upset stomach. call. Started having a slight sore throat. Laid around on the couch all day.

Sunday... Sore throat but Ibuprofen would take care of it but no swollen glands so I thought that maybe I was catching a cold.

Monday...I woke up with sore throat and swollen glands but no fever. I hadn't slept much the night before. I took ibuprofen and felt better. I called the hospital again, was on hold or transferred to another person for about 20 minutes before I finally lost it. They transferred me to the front desk in the emergency room and I started balling. Told her I was still sick and had been waiting on a strep culture result for over a week. Told her I had called several times, left messages, was told my call would be returned....Blah, Blah, Blah. She was very nice and looked it up for me. WTH??? That was all it took was for someone to take the time to look it up?? I was a little upset.

I was even more upset when I found out that the ER doc never even ordered the strep culture. She had actually written on my chart that patient had requested a culture but was denied as it was not needed.

I didn't sleep at all on Monday night. My glands were so swollen I was having trouble breathing when I was laying down, I had a fever, was shaking, puking and started getting a rash on my chest. Greg came home at 3 am and sat up with me. We started to head back the the ER but I was afraid of the another huge ER bill just to have them tell me the same thing. Took more ibuprofen, sucked on some Sucrets, covered up with an electric blanket and waited til morning. The Greenfield Med Check opened at 8 so I was there by 8:30.

The Doc walked in and listened to my symptoms, took one look at my slight rash on my chest and said..."I bet you have the start of Scarletina...which is basically a whole body infection of strep..usually caused by untreated strep throat. He did a rapid strep test...except he swabbed all over my throat instead of just barely touching it like the ER nurse did. It was positive immediately. I have strep throat. Imagine that!!

Told him about my ER ordeal and he was mad. He said the doc knew I had been exposed to strep. He said that strep and mono usually go hand in hand and that the ER doc should have given me a course of antibiotics as a precaution.

Needless to say...I finally got my antibiotics. 1000 mg of Amox. THREE times a day for 10 days because my infection was so bad. I picked them up at Meijer FOR FREE. And By this morning (24 hrs after starting antibiotics)? I feel GREAT!!

Moral of the story: We do not have a ton of money. We live comfortably, have a little in savings, an IRA. We make enough to contribute to our savings, pay our bills, buy groceries, and maybe do/buy a few extras each month. We aren't wealthy. In fact, I would classify us as the working low-middle class. We don't qualify for government programs and yet we can't really afford good insurance for me.

My husband said the hospital treated me so bad because they knew I was paying out of pocket (because I had yet to meet my deductible and only have major medical).....and therefor couldn't charge me for every little cost like they do the insurance companies. Maybe. IDK.

I just think its crazy for a middle class American woman to have so much trouble getting a freaking prescription for amoxicillan. I feel let down. Let down by the insurance companies because coverage is so expensive. Let down by the stupid ER doc that treated me so poorly and wouldn't listen to me. I had no other option and she knew it. Finally, I feel let down by the government because this is allowed to go on.

Now I am all for the government staying out of our business, for the most part. However, I look to them for protection. Do I want them to run health care? No. Do I want them to have a say in what treatment I can get? No. But I absolutely want them to reform health care so that it's affordable and accessible to the average working American....not just the very poor or the very wealthy.

Much Love.


Becky and Scott said...

sorry you had so much trouble with your sickness!!! did you know that you can reinfect yourself with your own toothbrush!?!? i didnt' know that until my last bout with strep. hope you are all well now! love you! xoxo

gorillabuns said...

i'm so sorry about the whole system. i feel so very frustrated with insurance and the healthcare system.

we pay almost $900/mo for healthcare out of pocket. That's like a mortgage payment. Some months I don't know how we do it. Like this month.