hopefully every medical student experiences this

this experience can be easily summated in two words: insurance companies.

 for my entire life, until the ripe age of 23, i was covered under my father’s insurance, and the only reason i am no longer on his insurance is because of turning 23. for the majority of this time, the only physician encounters i have had been minimal.

i know that i will be traumatized for the rest of my life because of my experience with insurance companies. my experience has made my choice in emergency medicine/icu an easy one.

since february of 2007, i have had an ongoing medical issue, that recently came to a [hopeful] resolution in september when i underwent minor surgery. unfortunately, from february to september, i technically had 3 different insurance companies.

until june, my father’s work was under united healthcare (the bane of my existence, henceforth named ‘bome’ or ‘uhc’).  my bome had given me trouble for years, continually not paying my bills, and everytime i called, they asked, “are you a student?”. yes. and i will be for the next several years. then they still wouldn’t pay. this went on for months, when finally, one employee decided to tell me i should have my school fill out a piece of paper confirming my status as a student, and suddenly all of my problems disappeared. however, at this same time, my father’s work switched from uhc to medical mutual, much to my initial celebration. they, too, wanted my school to fill out a piece of paper confirming my status as a student, which i promptly did. i only visited the doctor during this one month of coverage by medical mutual, because i soon realized that medical mutual only covers students under their parents until they are 23. dun dun dun.

now it was time to enroll in my school’s insurance, and to my horror, they use bome. nevertheless, at the end of august, they took over as my insurance company. i had surgery during the 3rd week of september, and as it stands today, they still have not paid anything for my surgery.

they want proof of previous insurance coverage for a previous condition. even from themselves. i asked, ‘do you need a proof of coverage form from yourself?” oh yeah, they do. but what’s even better is that they have to mail the form to me, and then i have to mail the form back to them. sadly, that’s the easy part.

they also want proof of my one month coverage by medical mutual. i call medical mutual, and guess who has no record of me ever being on their insurance. now, i have to work with the man at my father’s workplace to figure out what the HELL happened. this is necessary because one month of no insurance coverage is enough grounds that uhc could refuse to cover my surgery, even though they were the ones originally covering me when this whole disease process began.

as if having surgery and medical issues weren’t enough, as a patient, i have to deal with this. most medical students and residents will not deal with insurance because most people at this age are young and healthy. their extent will be regular, healthy check-ups. my experience is not the norm, but it gives me one more glimpse into the life of a patient with a chronic disease, continually battling the insurance companies, receiving bills from all the different healthcare facilities involved in the meanwhile.

the stress is insurmountable at times, and all i can do to cope with it is curl up in my bed and cry. as though dealing with a disease were not painful enough – i cannot begin to imagine the pain of ongoing, chronic illnesses.


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