Like many Americans, we’ve been living without health insurance. We couldn’t afford the cost. We made just enough money to be denied medicaid but were poor enough to be exempt from paying fines come tax time for not having insurance. It made no sense, but that’s how it was.
Many years ago, probably nearly a decade, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. That endocrinologist told me that my thyroid was consuming itself, but there was no treatment option at that time. Deal with the symptoms I had and wait for things to get worse. He offered a referral for his buddy, the weight loss surgeon, and sent me on my way.
brain fog (and other neurological symptoms)
Fast forward a number of years. My neurologist suggests that my thyroid should be rechecked. Before I’ve had the chance to return to my PCP and set up the thyroid test, we lost our insurance. (Medicaid cancelled because my husband finally found a new job!)
years go by and symptoms worsen
Zero energy. Falling asleep at the most inopportune moments. Insomnia. Thinking slowed, decision making processes nonfunctional, focus pitiful. It was taking me weeks to read a single chapter. Writing was something I vaguely recalled doing Once Upon a Time. And the crying. No reason for it. Just all of a sudden bawling my eyes out, feeling completely devastated. The list goes on with many things I never knew were thyroid related.
July rolled around, and I stumbled across something. Free Clinics of Michigan. I didn’t expect to find a free clinic in my rural neck of Michigan and was delighted to find one near enough that I could manage a trip. It took many early mornings (around here, dinner is at 2:15am, bedtime lands around 4:30am, and wake-up is noon) of 8:00am appointments, but I found a doctor there willing to help me. We began tests and planning for treatment.
I followed the rules
One of the requirements of seeing a doctor in the free clinic is applying for medicaid. Understandable, right? While the doctor was sending me for tests (blood work and an ultrasound), my application was pending. The clinic doctor began my treatment (.05 mg of synthroid every day) around the same time that the application was approved. Medicaid with copays for those who don’t need state aid but do need affordable medical insurance. I didn’t know the program had been revamped since we’d lost our coverage. Another pleasant surprise.
I’ve begun treatment, and now we have medical insurance. How could this not be great? Called the insurance and requested our old doctor as our Primary Care Physician (PCP). On September 6th, I saw the physician’s assistant (PA) at the doctor’s office. I’ve been seeing her off and on for twenty-five years. As expected, she recommended that I find an endocrinologist to monitor my Hashimoto’s and thyroid function. She wrote me a script for three months worth of pills and gave me a few numbers to get me started.
Let the fun begin
With the synthroid, you are supposed to get your first blood test at 4-6 weeks. I waited until Monday to worry about choosing an endocrinologist and setting up an appointment. What harm could the weekend do? Monday rolled around, and I used the provider search on the insurance website.
16 miles away
There is an endocrinology clinic not too terribly far from me. They weren’t seeing patients until after the new year. I made a note and moved on to the next.
18 miles away
In a different direction, not too much farther than the clinic, I found a private practice doctor. They aren’t accepting new patients.
19 miles away
Another city, another endocrinology clinic. This one happens to be the endocrinologist that the free clinic was going to send me to. Great. They’ll accept medicaid, right? I mean, they work with the free clinic. Nope. They accept all the local medicaid options except mine. The doctor listed on the insurance website retired months ago.
16 miles away
By this time, the new year is starting to sound pretty darned good. I’ll survive on refills until then if I have to. While they do indeed take my insurance, they only accept it from patients whose PCP is in their hospital network. Office policy. They have FIVE endocrinologists!
22 miles away
I spoke to my insurance. They recommended a doctor who practices general practice, but has a secondary specialty in the endocrine system. Called his office. Not only is he not willing to see a patient as a specialist, but he isn’t actually a specialist. He merely has some continuing education type credits in diabetic care. Great news for his diabetic patients, not so helpful for me.
22.5 miles away
Nope. This office doesn’t even exist.
24 miles away
This office doesn’t accept my insurance and has no clue how they ended up on the list. Have I tried the clinic up the street?
25.5 miles away — the aforementioned clinic up the street
They accept my insurance. Great! They aren’t accepting new patients. Or not…
farther and farther
I searched far and near for an endocrinologist who (A) took my insurance [and] (B) were accepting new patients [and unexpectedly] (C) had no office policy preventing my becoming a patient even though the first two conditions were met.
Called my PCP
This was a few days ago. I figure that they either need to monitor my thyroid or they need to help me find somebody who will. Right? They finally called me back today. “There is nothing we can do for you.” Really? That’s it? How about monitor my TSH, T3, & T4 while helping me figure this endocrinologist situation out? How about acting as my Primary Care Practice?
Is that really so much to ask for?
I’ve been living without insurance for years. I began my hypothyroid treatment at the free clinic with an anesthesiologist as my physician. My expectations aren’t all that high. Monitor my health, ensure that my prescription is correct, and help me find a specialist to take over these tasks as soon as possible.
I’ve done all that I can
I’ve called all the endocrinologists that I could find. I called the insurance company multiple times. I’ve even gotten approval for an out of network specialist if they are willing to bill my insurance at the medicaid rate. I called the endocrinologists again. I begged, I pleaded, and I inquired into their willingness to accept me out of network. They all act like they’ve never heard of such a thing.
formulating a new plan
I’m no where near better. I’m not confident that I’m on the correct dosage. I need a healthcare provider who will advocate for my health. I’m going to begin by calling the free clinic. Perhaps they can find a way to get me an appointment with the endocrinology clinic they referred me to initially. I will also be calling around to find a new doctor who will provide the level of care I deserve.
absent at times
This is my first post in five months. During that time, Amazon dropped me as an associate because I wasn’t making any referral sales. I’m not even sure if my book links will still bring you to my books. After spending EIGHT hours hashing out this post, I don’t have the energy left to check. I’ll get to it, eventually. I will try to put in the effort to post more often and visit twitter from time to time. My health has to come first, and I suspect it’s going to take a lot of my very limited energy to advocate for.
well wishes welcome
Please slather them in puppy [and/or] kitty pictures.