An update regarding my eye blowout thing

April 8, 2010 at 9:03 pm (Uncategorized)

So back in November I wrote a little bit about my macular damage that likely resulted from multiple stress sources, the primary probably being the news about mom getting brain cancer.

Well, that turned into it’s own little bit of drama after having the appointment with the retina specialist in December.

The biggest problem was that this doctor was a total jerk.
I went in for the appointment, an assistant dilated my eyes and so on, and then this doctor spends literally about five minutes with me, looking into my eyes with a magnifying glass, and asking me the exact same questions the last doctor asked me, while offsides mentioning that there could be laser surgery needed.
After this five-minute session, he sends me down the hall, where I have an OCT scan of my retina done.
After doing this and then sitting around for a while, he then informs me that I need to have another type of imaging done of my retinas, which will require the application of a contrast dye and another specialized imaging machine.
Which is where it really begins to go downhill.

See, I work in the health insurance claims business. And I’ve seen a whole lot of bills for various types of scans involving contrast materials come across my desk, so to speak. And I’d noticed how holy-shit-expensive these tend to be.
And I have an insurance plan that has a $2800 deductible, which means that basically I have to pay for my health care services out of pocket and the insurance is pretty much just there as a safety net in case I get hit by a bus or something.
So… before I allowed them to take this scan… I asked. How much is it?

All in all the charges would come together… for just this one scan… to about $1800(!!).
So… explaining that $1800 is a whole hell of a lot to spend on some diagnostic scan for no reason other than “because the doctor said so,” I told them I wanted to speak to the doctor again before we got started.
I wanted to ask if it really had to be done right now. See… the previous doctor said these things normally heal up on their own in a few months, so was there really a reason this MUST be done right now, or could it wait a few months if there’s no improvement? Why do we have to have it done on both eyes when only one is having a problem?

Well, in a nutshell, he refused to even talk to me, and as a matter of fact acted completed pissed off and put out that a patient would even dare question him on it.
He said he wouldn’t discuss my case with me until after I had the imaging done… which of course completely missed the point of why I wanted to talk to him in the first place. He also rattled off a bunch of crap about how he could set himself up for liability if I didn’t go through with it, how it had to be done on both eyes (thus doubling the cost it would have been for one eye) because “sometimes there are signs about what’s wrong in the other eye,” and that it needed to be done to verify that there was no internal bleeding from the injury.
OK… I’m pretty sure that since it took me over a month to get an appointment with the guy in the first place, if there had been internal bleeding it probably would have been apparent by that point, and in fact I probably would have been in the ER well before that point. And why can’t we do one eye, and then, if it’s inconclusive, do the other? Why is it they *must* both be done right away? And what is that bullshit about liability? I’ve heard from doctors being interviewed a couple of times that out of all the CT scans done, the number that were completely unnecessary and were done mostly just as a “CYA” measure is estimated to be around the 80% range. 80%. Which makes me think this may fall into the same category – I was told to do the scan not because it was really needed – but rather because he wanted to cover his ass from all angles and, most likely, because that scan in itself would nicely cover several boat payments.
I told him I wanted to hold off and think it over before shelling out that kind of cash – and I was given a “refusal of treament” form to fill out, where I signed off showing that the test had been recommended to me and I had refused. Down next to where I had to sign they were sure to put in a bunch of scare language about how refusal of services could cause “worsening of the condition or BLINDNESS.”

I angrily walked the few miles home, and a few days later I got a letter from this doctor’s office advising me that they were no longer going to take me as a patient because of my “noncompliance.”

To top it off… a few weeks later I received a bill for services.. for nearly $800.(!!)

Well, in February I typed up and sent off a bitch letter that was a full two pages typed about why this was a load of crap, especially considering I didn’t recall having 3 of the 4 “diagnostic services” he was billing me for at over $150 each, not to mention about $350 for the “consultation” that was a useless 5 minutes in his office where we didn’t actually discuss anything, followed by his refusal to answer my questions a short while later.

It’s now April and that letter is still “in review” by the doctor.

As far as the eye problem itself?
It’s still there, but seems to have improved significantly on its own. Rather than what was a somewhat large dark/discolored/unfocused spot right in the middle of my right eye’s vision, it’s now faded signficantly to where I really don’t even notice it that often. It has unfortunately been a bit longer than the “a few months” that was originally suggested by the first doctor, but it does seem to be slowly healing on its own so I can definitely say I’m not ready to listen to any suggestions of crap like laser surgery just yet.


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