Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why We Will All Die Young and Clutching a Medical Bill

Last week, I had one of those beyond exasperating experiences with doctors. Between insurance BS and malpractice lawsuits, it is darned near impossible to get medical treatment in this country any more. Lord knows, if I'm not going to die, I put off going to the doctor until it's just overdue and I've put this off for months (probably more like a year), so last week I decided to give it a go. The entire issue is about skin tags. They're these little hanging pieces of skin that can develop on your body. They're benign, but unsightly, and in the winter, they tend to catch on sweaters and that can hurt a bit. I had a couple of my body and one next to the outside corner of my eye that I wanted to have removed. I've had skin tags removed from the same places before as they tend to return - like most unpleasant things in life.

So I go to my regular GP, who removed them last time and here is the conversation that ensued:

Me: I want the skin tags removed.
GP: I can't remove them.
Me: Why not? You did it last time.
GP: Yes, but at least one of them should be sent to the lab for testing.
Me: Okay. You send stuff to the lab all the time.
GP: Yes, but that's in different packaging.

He wouldn't budge. Apparently, using the right envelop to contain the skin tag is a requirement for it to be tested....? So he told me to see a dermatologist. I found a dermatologist who would get me in and this is the conversation that ensued:

Me: I want the skin tags removed.
Derm: I can do the ones on your body but not the one near your eye.
Me: Why not? It's not on or in my eye.
Derm: But it's close to your eye.
Me: Is it a "special" skin tag?
Derm: No. But it's near your eye.

So I have the skin tags on my body removed and the dermatologist calls an opthomologist who agrees to see me that same day. So the nurse at the optho begins giving me an eye exam - I'm talking an eye exam for glasses prescription exam. The following conversation ensues:

Me: Why are we doing an eye exam? My eyes are not why I'm here.
Nurse: We have to do the exam.
Me: But why? The skin tag is not on or in my eye.
Nurse: Your insurance pays for it.
(Apparently, this is supposed to mean I don't care)

So she does a complete eye exam, for which I do NOT receive a prescription for glasses, I might add, and then she dilates my eyes and sticks me in a dark room to wait. So I wait and wait and wait and finally I go back to a room and the optho comes in. The following conversation ensues:

Optho: Your eyes are in excellent shape.
Me (grumbling): Thank you. (like I care since I'm not there for my friggin' eyes!)
Optho: The surgery is very simple and will only take about ten minutes, no sedation required at all. I'll have the front desk schedule you in for it in a couple of weeks.
Me: You can't do it today?
Optho: No. I don't have time today, but it will only take ten minutes in two weeks.

Sure it will. AFTER he conveniently bills my insurance company for another office visit. BTW, the eye exam that I didn't need created a bill to my insurance company for a little over $500.

So I drive home, frustrated beyond belief, half-blind since my eyes are dilated, $75 in doctor copays poorer and the damned skin tag still next to my eye. Mind you, of all the ones I wanted removed, that was "the" one. The only one that bothers me. Of course.

And that is why we will all die young and clutching a medical bill. Because everyone is a specialist and no one knows anything about the human body beyond their six-inch range. If they do, they're not admitting it because they're afraid of being sued. What ever happened to the country doctor who fixed a case of the doodies and could set a broken leg?


Deadly DeLeon


Jenyfer Matthews said...

I once was chatting with a GP at the campus infirmary about skin tags - he said that the main nurse he worked with had a large skin tag on her neck and one day when she wasn't paying attention he came up next to her and snipped it off! Guess he wasn't too worried about malpractice - or her wrath even!

Good luck getting that stuff taken care of.

Christie Craig said...


It can drive you to be sick. Good luck.


Michele Benard said...

Oh I so feel for you April 2009 I go in for a consultation with a plastic surgeon to have a breast REDUCTION not implnats they send to the insurance company Dr. says I qualify Insurance Comp denies it twice we find out it is because myhusbands company didn't have it in their policy so we had called human resources they actuall change the policy for me so it should go through now wrong no one ever did anything with it by Jan 2010 the company swiitched insurance companies after resubmitting to new company denied twice si I went to my regular dr he sent me to physical therapy and an anti inflamatory back to the surgeon new pics and finally I have won next week i get my surgrey after a long fight. health care is rediculous in this country

Becky LeJeune said...

Oh, that completely blows! My mom has a skin tag by her eye as well. I don't know if she's looked into getting it removed, though. Ugh. Why does everything have to be so infinitely complicated these days?

Anne R. Allen said...

I feel your pain! Our system is so broken! We're all caught in a vise between the greedy providers (not so much doctors, but the drug companies, medical supply people, etc) and the greedy insurance companies. Pretty soon most of us won't be able to afford health care at all--with or without the new band-aid law. And the few that can afford it will be subjected to unneeded procedures that torture and kill. (I recently was given an unnecessary biopsy that nearly killed me and left me in permanent pain.)

Moving out of the US to a civilized country looks like a better and better option.

I cut off my own skin tags. Never had one near my eye, though.

MsHellion said...

I'd laugh, but right now I'm dealing with a rash, and so far, I've dealt with my GP, a specialist for RA diseases, and two dermatologists. No one has quite figured out what I have yet. *sighs*

Jana DeLeon said...

Jenyfer - I wish I worked with him. I swear, next time, I'm just going to find someone who will do it for me. I don't think I can do it myself. That would be too icky.

Jana DeLeon said...

Thanks, Christie!

Jana DeLeon said...

Michele - If it makes you feel any better, a friend of mine in Canada waited for YEARS for a reduction surgery and now needs back surgery b/c it took so long. So we're not the only screwed up place (although the Canadians would love for you to think they've gotten us beat in everything) :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Becky - I contend all the complexity is either about making money or avoiding a lawsuit. Actually treating patients is so far down on the list, I don't think I can see it any more.

Jana DeLeon said...

Anne - you brave, brave woman. What do you snip them with? And how do you do it without cringing? I have a high tolerance for pain, but I don't know about self-inflicted.

Jana DeLeon said...

Oh no, MsHellion! You're in the doctor boat with me. I hope you get an answer soon!