Friday, September 21, 2007

Adventures in Acupuncture

Ok - general ranting is about to begin.

Before I got pregnant, I had just begun acupuncture treatment. I wasn't doing this to get pregnant but more of a lifestyle/stress management sort of thing. I found a great acupuncturist who is also an MD. I found this very appealing as he would be open to ensuring that medically, everything was in line to make the most of my acupuncture treatment. Of course acupuncture doesn't come cheap, especially when administered by an MD who just happens to be certified in Holistic Medicine.

Initial consultation went great! I have to say it is really nice to have a one on one conversation with a MD for almost an hour. Many lingering questions were answered but as I sat there, I kept wondering to myself "Ok doc....let's start this thing....bring on the needles."

Some gal came in and said the next appointment was waiting. We talked a little more and doc wanted to send me for some bloodwork. Although the acupuncture wasn't covered, the labwork would be since it was being done at a lab. Checking the whole cholesterol, Thyroid, CBC, blah blah blah. I took the lab slip and he sent me on my way.

WHAT!!!! No treatment??? Guess not, he wanted to see what was up with the labs first. Ok - I can handle that.

So, as I was checking out at the front desk with a gal named Sandy....

Sandy: Ok Nita....that will be $225 for today.
Me: What???
Sandy: Oh, they didn't tell you? Our consult fee is $225.
Me: The young lady who scheduled my appointment didn't give me an exact amount but when I estimated $100-125 she said yeah, that sounds right.
Sandy: Oh, I'm sorry. It will be $225 for today. Here is your welcome kit. Would you like to schedule your next appointment?

I thought for a second. I really wanted to do this. I had just started Jenny Craig and discovered that stress and anger were huge triggers for me to eat and was willing to commit to whatever it took. Besides, I did get to talk to an MD for an hour and how often does that happen with your friendly HMO? I gave her the Visa and sucked it up, took my lab slip and scheduled my next appointment for 2 weeks.

2 weeks later I arrive for my appointment, anxious to discuss my labwork and get my acupuncture treatment underway. Sandy called me 3 days before requesting it if was ok for an RN to observe the treatment. Sure I said, people gotta learn somehow.

Here comes Doc, sans labwork. Now....I am pretty sure that when Miss Sandy called before I confirmed with her at that time that my labwork had arrived and she said yes. So - WTFruck lady?!?! Fortunately she was able to get a copy immediately.

Doc comes back with labwork, we discuss. My thryroid test comes back normal, so much for my theory of blaming the big butt on a lazy thyroid. So he talks some more, the nurse is "observing" and that little voice in my head is going "So um, where are the needles?" Then Doc starts to wrap up. I ask him about my treatment for the day. He apologizes, he overlooked the note on the appointment and didn't realize I was supposed to have treatment. He was very apologetic, but it was pretty clear I was irked by now. This stuff was causing me more stress. I made it clear that I definitely wasn't about to pay another $225 consulting fee. I think that day I paid $40.

FYI folks - I did finally have treatment. It was lovely. The price was a little more than most, but still reasonable and things went well. Acupuncture does NOT hurt in any way. The needles aren't really needles. They feel like a thick fishing line and are very strategically placed. I have even had them in my ear and scalp and felt nothing other than a little pressure.

The problem.....Remember the labwork? I went to Labcorp. They didn't do the entire Lipid profile as ordered, they only did my lipoprotein (no HDL, LDL or what not). Insurance kicked back the lipoprotein portion of the bloodwork as not covered under a diagnosis code for a regular physical exam.

I called Sandy immediately and asked her if she could talk to Doc and maybe get a new diagnosis codeto go with the lipoprotein. My family medical history certainly justifies the test as heart disease is everywhere and my lipoprotein level is totally elevated. She says sure and she will call Labcorp so they can resubmit the claim. I called 2 weeks later, she still hadn't done this. I called yesterday - she doesn't recall ever having this conversation with me. I had to start all over again and argue with the lady. The entire concept of me going to a lab and them billing insurance while the office doesn't was too much for her to comprehend.

"But how did you get insurance billed for bloodwork we ordered when we don't bill here?????" OMG, do I have to explain this again?

At this point, I think I want to jam her head in a vice and squeeze just to see if a brain or dust pops out. Is she special or what is her deal? She certainly has NO business working front desk for a physician. I used to do this job and I even dealt with insurance companies. On my worst day I was 100 times better than this gal on her best day!

So, I will try again next week and see what she came up with. If that doesn't work, I will see if I can reach Doc himself. After all, I only need a new flipping diagnosis code for crying out loud!

Oh - update... my cold is about 85% gone. Feeling much better now but still not 100% just yet. And my pookie has to leave for 10 days on Monday for work. I will be so lonely. Anyone want to come keep me company?

Update: I just called Sandy back today - 9/27. I think she needs a CT scan or something. She "vaguely" remembers talking to me last week. I told her this is the 4th time we have had this discussion and insisted on a call back from the Doctor. Would it be too much if I went out there in person? It is a bill for like $115 but is that worth this much frustration?!?!?! Stupid people should have to wear a sign - I swear!

1 comment:

Calvin said...

Good luck on this one! My last issue with a Dr's office lasted four months.

I hope you are surviving with Rick away. Talk to you soon.