Saturday, May 7, 2011

Anecdotes about health care

The following are some stories and anecdotes students posted in a discussion board.  I've slightly changed a few of the posts to protect the identities of the students. 

My story is about dentists rather than a medical doctor, but I feel like it still relates to a medical field of sorts.

My family has been on state funded insurance for quite some time now, and because not alot of doctors or dentist accept AllKids or other forms of state insurance the options for doctors and dentists to go to is slim. My parents didn't take me to the dentist for a really long time when i was younger. I don'tthink I'd gone for like 7 or 8 years because only certain dentists where we lived accepted the insurance we had and they were all still pretty far away from where we lived. So long story short, my senior year of high school i started have really bad sensitivity and pain in part of my mouth. The dentist that I'd gone to couldn't figure out what was going on.. He decided to do a root canal on on of my teeth to try and get the pain to stop. Well, they did the root canal, but then the state insurance my parents had me on, woudn't approve for me to get a the rest of the work and the crown put on after the root canal procedure was done. Me trying to get the crown procedure approved went on for like a year, and then finally it was time for to come to college here at UIS, I found out that when i turned 19, the state no longer allows you to be on the same plan as your parents for state insurance such as AllKids. Then insurance i now have through the university doesn't include dental insurance. After I'd had the rootcanal done on the first tooth I was still have pain in the same area. When the pain proved to be too much for me, I started going to a dentist here in Springfield. This dentist offices accepts a discount from the medical insurance that I have through the University, but it's not that great of deal. After I started going to this dentist, he informed me that i had an abcess on the tooth next to the tooth that i'd had the root canal done on that still didnt' ahve a crown placed on it. The abcess is sort of a big deal because it is an infection of the bone holding your tooth in place. I ended up paying $800 to have the abcess taken care of and  I still don't have a crown on the root canal  I had done almost three years ago! I need to have it re done if i want to save that tooth, it's just really hard not having dental insurance, because dental work is crazy expensive. I realize I probably could have avoided this had i taken better care of my teeth when i was younger, but the fact of the matter is, that because i didn't have good dental insurance as a kid, i wasn't taken to the dentist as much as i probably should have been.

Insurance companies honestly boggle my mind sometimes. It seems like they want to save money immediately, instead of thinking of long term damage or  taking preventative measures.

My story sort of goes along with previous examples you gave. I've struggled with my weight my entire life so when I heard of the "lap band AP" procedure, I was interested to find out more. I did extensive research, and found out it wasn't an invasive procedure like gastric bypass—though I still wasn't sure I wanted to go to such drastic measures, it was definitely worth looking into. I talked to my insurance company and they quickly informed me that if I went ahead with the procedure, they would not cover it. By all physical standards I am "too healthy" for the surgery. I don't have diabetes, my blood pressure and cholesterol are both good, they said it wasn't something I need so it would be a "cosmetic procedure"

Needless to say, I didn't have $15,000 to go ahead with the surgery; so, it was no longer an option. The thing that I found funny is they didn't take the fact that this could potentially be a preventative measure into account. I'm healthy, now, but what about the future? Obviously most overweight individuals will have health problems at some point in their lives. So because I am healthy and overweight I don't qualify, but as soon as I become diabetic or have high blood pressure they'll pay for it. They do this, instead of just paying for it now, and potentially avoiding the health issues.

In general, the topic of health care is a delicate subject because of course as a social worker I want the entire world to be able to have affordable health care. there are just so many obstructions that get in the way of that happening.

I guess part of me also feels like, yeah I'm healthy now and it doesnt make sense that I have to pay for people that choose to smoke and drink and abuse drugs and are less healthy because of it - but in the back of my head, i always think that I am just one small slip up away from being that person. That humbles me and makes me more willing to put up with paying for people i shouldn't necessarily have to pay for.

One thing that did stay with me though was a quote from one of the readings. I went back and found it -  "between 44,000 and 98,000 people die each year from medical errors". Having a father that was one of those statistics 2 years ago made that a stat that really hit home for me. Just thought it was interesting and sad and something worth knowing for anyone that didn't get around to that particular reading.


I know how it is always easier to think of the bad instead of the good. I think there are pros and cons to almost everything, and that as a society we need to start looking at the bigger picture and not just focusing on the negative that impacts us. The story about my health insurance is a positive aspect and a negative aspect.

Since my mom is on Medicaid, there are some rules that did not allow me to be on her insurance anymore when I came to college. I had to get the school insurance. This was not a big deal to me, but then I realized with the school insurance I have to pay a co-pay for almost any clinic I go to and Health Services at the school does not take this insurance either (crazy, I know). I cannot see a dentist in Springfield for a normal teeth cleaning without having to pay $200. When I go to a government clinic in Chicago, I have to pay a co-pay of $45 or more depending on the clinic, when I did not have to do this before when I was on Medicaid with my mom. I rarely go to the doctor for check-ups because I do not want to spend the money that I feel can be used for something else. (I will pay for it all one way or another: either now or when I am older in bad health because I never got check-ups)

The best thing about my school insurance was when I had to go to the emergency room because I had the worst headaches that I ever had (I rarely get minor headaches). I could barely open my eyes to see, I could not be in the light, I did not want to eat because it hurt to chew, and I had to stand in the shower for at least an hour to feel a little better if any. I went to the hospital and had these tests done all for the doctor to tell me that I needed some medicine that I could have gotten the generic version at Walgreens. When I received my hospital bill for the MRI, the bed I slept in, and the doctor's fee it was over $3,000. After my insurance, I only ended up paying around $600. I know that this price is still a lot of money, but my insurance paid for way over half of the expenses. I did not look at that $600 as a burden; I looked at it as a blessing because I could have easily been stuck with the original bill. I was not happy to pay it, but I found out a secret when I paid it. Because I paid my bill on time (within the first month), the hospital gives a 10% discount that I did not know of (I bet most people don't), which lowered my expenses even less.   
My grandfather was recently told by his physician that he needed to have surgery on his prostate. They scheduled his surgery and all he had to do was come in for a stress test. During his stress test the doctor realized something was wrong. My grandfather was immediately rushed into heart surgery. He had to have five stents put into his arteries, which is usually not done all in one surgery. My mother and my aunt are both registered nurses at the hospital where my grandfather was having the surgery done and the doctor knows our family well. Knowing that my grandfather needed his prostate surgery, the doctor wanted to avoid having separate surgeries to finish the stents so he carefully completed them all in one session.  Everything turned out great and afterword my grandpa felt so much better. This Monday he was able to have surgery on his prostate which also went really well. Our family is blessed that the doctors noticed his condition and carefully and swiftly took care of it.


I am around doctors all day long, and most of them are nice, but some of them are rude. You would also be surprised as to how ignorant some of them are. There are certain doctors that will not clean up their mess if they spilled it themselves. Then there are the other ones that look down on you, as if you are stupid and do not understand them.
My story happened two years ago. I got LASIK eye surgery done here in Springfield by a respected doctor and I thought everything was fine. Well two months after my surgery, the doctor sent me to a specialist because he said an infection was growing under my cornea. I continually asked him how this could have happened and he blew me off and made excuses. I went to St. Louis to the eye specialist, and he told me that the only way I could have got this infection was from contaminated utensils. I couldn't believe it! I tried to talk to the original doctor about it, but he was vague. However, he did pay my check-ups and new glasses. I believe that he felt guilty. After two years, my infection is cleared up and only have minimal scarring on my corneas. I did talk to a lawyer, but they would not take my case because it is too hard to prove medical malpractice and I didn't have any extensive permanent damage.
I believe that I should have at least been reimbursed for my surgery costs; it was out of pocket as an elective. However, since our healthcare system relies on making profits beyond the norm, this will never happen.


I’m not sure if this story relates but i think so.  I am not one to like to go to doctors and i try to avoid them at all cost.  When one of my friends started to detassel with me his skin became incredibly irritated.  It started to turn colors and just itch so he went to the doctor.  They sent him home with the littlest of meds and said it was nothing.  It kept getting worse and worse and started to bother him a little bit.  He went back and the doctor refilled his prescription and said it will get better soon.  He finally went to get a second opinion and it turned out to be a staff infection that had got in his blood.  The first doctor just didnt take the time and tried to get him out of there with as little attention as possible.  It is frustrating because this is the reason why i dont like going.  Some just dont care really and just try to get you in and out without any fuss. 

I actually want to share a good story about doctors.  I have many "bad" stories about the health care system, but this winter a very awesome thing happened to my family.  My aunt is a women who has never been to the doctor.  we all knew it had been a long time, but when she got sick this winter and was taken to the hospital, she told them it had been since 1978!!  all the doctors were blown away from this.  She had all kinds of problems going on.  some were cataracts, heart problems, diabetes, goiters over 14 inches!, and fibroid problems. So of course my aunt was really really scared and upset.  she had to have all kinds of tests done to check for cancer and to see what was causing all these problems.  There was one doctor who was just so nice to her and showed great empathy.  He went out of his way to make sure she was ok.  he stayed late and talked to her for hours about changing diets, what was going on, and what he was going to do for her. He called personally every morning and night to check on her and when he learned how long it had been since she had seen a doctor, he did not react like the other doctors.  Other doctors would say things like, "how could you let this happen," what is wrong with you, don't you know you need to get check ups and see a doctor regularly!"  This may be true, but saying those things to her does not make the situation any better.  She knows she should have seen doctors over the years and have taken care of her self better.  But having this doctor talk to her with respect and with care really helped her, and I really think he helped her get her life back on track.  I am grateful he was there that night in the ER!
I was 22 years old when I gave birth to my son. My husband worked for John Deere. We had excellent insurance, they paid for everything. We did not have any out of pocket expenses. I was able to go to any doctor I wanted. I had no idea where to go. Everyone I knew who had been pregnant were single moms and they had all gone to the same physician. So that is where I went. During labor I developed complications and another physician had to be called in. This doctor treated me like dirt. He was insulting, rude, and dehumanizing. I ended up having to have a c-section. The days following the surgery I was interviewed by several different people. Because of my ignorance I chose a family practice resident for my physician. Most of their patient's were on Medicaid. When the specialist was called he was angry because my problem was interfering with his tennis plans. He just wanted to get this over with. He thought I was another over weight, unwed, poor, woman giving birth. He actually cut my sons face with the scalpel during the delivery. One of the nurses reported him, that is what prompted the investigation. Nothing that I am aware of happened to the physician, but it was the beginning of a learning experience for me.

this past year I was denied health insurance. My parents had me fill out all these different papers about my health and if I had been to the hospital lately and everything. I think this all was to renew my health insurance. it was a couple weeks later we received a letter stating that I was not granted health insurance due to the fact that I had iron deficiency! I was so mad that i was not given insurance over a simple health problem. my parents were upset and we kept trying and trying to get insurance. so for a while i did not have health insurance and luckily i did not have to go to the hospital during that time. well, to cut it short, I finally was able to receive health insurance, but i hope i don't run into this problem again.


My mother has been on disability for about ten years. She has gotten progressively worse over the years, and is now to the point where she is bedridden almost 24 hours of the day. She and my father are still married, and he makes good money to help support the family, but he is also providing for my sick grandfather and my disabled uncle and sometimes even his youngest daughter who is a poor college student :) The whole situation is confusing, but my complaint is that the monthly allowance for people on disability is not enough. My dad does not make enough to support four people by himself; especially four people who have costly medical bills. I think that certain people on disability in special situations, similar situations to my family’s, should be eligible for more money from social security. 

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