I thought I already had my fair share of insurance problems. I have already spent many an hour and many a tear on coordinating the two plans I had when I was diagnosed, on changing to my parent’s plan the first chance I had, and then on getting booted off my parents’ plan upon turning 26.
I thought that the hours and tears I have already spent on insurance would somehow exempt me from having any more. I also thought that outsourcing any insurance problems to my parents would mean that there wouldn’t be any more insurance problems because my parents would handle them. Parents can do anything, right? Even when you’re 26. Mostly, I thought that paying a ridiculous amount per month for a premium for a really good plan would guarantee me a year free from the nightmare that is insurance problems.
Notice how I said “nightmare that is insurance problems” NOT “nightmare that is cancer.” Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
There is no such thing as “my fair share” of insurance problems. There is no debt of hours or tears that you can redeem for a free pass from insurance problems. Paying a lot doesn’t mean you get a lot of insurance coverage free from problems, it just means that you pay a lot.
I rolled the dice that gave me cancer AND insurance problems and now, it seems, I can’t have one without the other.
This big decision about a liver transplant that has been rolling around my head for the past few weeks, now, is a secondary decision–a secondary problem–to the real problem, which is my insurance company no longer has a contract with my doctors. I don’t feel like explaining it. It’s a lot of bureaucratic nonsense about “preferred providers” and “allowed costs” and “billed costs” that I glaze over when it gets explained to me. It’s not really important.
Why doesn’t my visit to the doctor just cost what it costs? OK–so it doesn’t, and this is where contracts come in. It’s a behind the scenes thing and I don’t care what you do behind the scenes to make the system “work,” none of that is my problem. My problem is that continuing to see my doctors is going to be a hassle. There must be thousands of people having this problem right now. And many thousands more who won’t know about it until they get a huge bill, because, somehow, this “small” issue of contract negotiations didn’t warrant mentioning in a letter. We got a letter about the mail-order pharmacy changing, but not the fact that the people who write those prescriptions to the mail-order pharmacy–to any pharmacy–can’t be the ones writing those prescriptions anymore after December 31, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. With a few months notice I and so many others could have done something about it. Protested. Changed insurance plans. Something. Because right now–at this moment, at almost 7:00 on a Tuesday night when everything is closed–i’m stuck. It still may be that things will change. But right now, I am overwhelmed. I don’t want to change doctors. I have come this far–these 15 months–with my “team.”
My team of doctors are still the ones who I trust, who I have developed relationships with, who know my case best. I can’t get that anywhere else now, 15 months, 1 big surgery, 8+ rounds of chemo, and 5+ scans in. Yes, as hard as it may be to believe, my cancer doesn’t go away just because the contract between my insurance company and my doctors has ended. It seemed like the woman on the phone from the insurance company today thought that was the case. Well, sorry–it’s still there. It didn’t get the memo about the contracts just like I didn’t.
I’m getting off track. See, the “real” problem shouldn’t be these insurance problems. It should be that my problem, the “real” problem, my only problem, is I have cancer. I really can’t handle much more than that. Especially if I can’t roll the dice again.