March 16th, 2006

The check is in the mail

The check is in the mail

In hopes of finding a doctor who is knowledgeable about CFIDS/ME and fibroymalgia, I started with a new primary care physician last month. Dr. M. was highly recommended by another PWC who had recently started going to her. Dr. M. is a vegan, uses a holistic approach in her practice and knows enough about CFIDS/ME not to tell me it's all in my head. Great, so far.

Another nice thing about Dr. M. is that she accepts Medicare assignment. Doctors who accept Medicare assignment are getting rarer by the day, so I'm lucky in that regard.

But although she accepts Medicare assignment, I still have to pay her in full up-front, then get reimbursed by Medicare afterwards. For my new patient visit last month I had to cough up $225, a huge chunk of change for me on a fixed income of measly Social Security Disability benefits and barely getting by in just about the most expensive city in North America to live in.

The office staff told me they file their Medicare claims right away, within 48 hours, and that one of their patients said she got her reimbursement from Medicare 8 days later. OK, great, so far.

(It's obvious where this is going, isn't it?) So after I paid in full at my visit on Feb. 13, I waited and waited and waited and waited.

And waited.

Days went by. Weeks went by. I waited.

Finally, after thinking that these 3 1/2 weeks have been the longest 8 days in my life, I called the doctor's office to make sure they actually filed the claim in the first place.

The receptionist said that the woman who usually does that job has been out and they've been short-handed lately. She said my claim was filed a week ago and I should be getting my reimbursement from Medicare next week.

OK, I can understand how it is in a small office when you're short-handed; I've been there myself in my past life prior to CFIDS. Hey, these things happen. That's okay, really.

But it's okay only as long as "a week ago" doesn't actually mean "as soon as I hang up the phone with you."