What’s Up, Doc?


It was time for my annual check-up, so I made the hour-plus drive to my dermatologist, who I’ve been told is one of the best in the business. I’ve been making this drive for years now, ever since having a “dangerous” mole removed from somewhere on my epidermis. (Use your imagination.)

It’s not something I really look forward to, since I have to completely disrobe and have every part of my body — and I do mean every part — examined closely by someone I barely know, and also because the visit, with the co-pay and whatever follow-up appointment I inevitably have to schedule, usually ends up costing me well over a hundred bucks. And that’s not even counting the gas I burn to get there and back again.

Anyhow, when I go to check in, the receptionist tells me that, according to my insurance card, I need to have a referral in order to see the doctor.

“But…I’ve been coming here at least once or twice a year for years?” No dice. They still need an official referral from my PCP. And that’s a problem, because my PCP recently left my current health system. Later on that day, when I call his office to see if he can give me a referral, they tell me I will have to come in for an exam first because the doctor “just can’t give our referrals over the phone.”

“But he’s my doctor,” I say. “He knows I go this dermatologist every year.” Again I’m told that I’ll have to make an appointment to see him. Which I do. Then they ask me if they have my medical records on file. Funny, but you’d think that’s something they would know. Well, apparently, unless I requested to have my files transferred from my doctor’s old office, they’re still there, at my doctor’s old office. Wonderful. The thing is, I can’t just ask them to send them over. I have to request a form, which they will mail out to me, and which I must then complete and mail back to them before they can request my files be sent…to MY DOCTOR!

So I do it. What other choice do I have?

I wait a couple of days and call my PCP’s office, thinking that if I can just get his voicemail and explain the situation, he’ll see how silly this whole thing is and just give me the referral. But apparently he doesn’t have voicemail, so I have to leave a message with the receptionist, who says she will pass it along to my doctor. When she asks me what’s it all about, I try to be sneaky and just say it’s in regards to a referral.

Minutes after I hang up, I get a call back from someone else in the office asking what exactly it is that I need. I tell her my tale of woe, hoping for a little sympathy. But again I’m told that I still have to come in to see the doctor in person, otherwise they could be investigated for insurance fraud. Splendid.

The morning of my appointment, I Google the address and follow the directions to my doctor’s new office in Wexford. Along the way I take a backroad shortcut in order to bypass the always crazy Cranberry traffic. But when I arrive at the address, it’s a huge building and I have no idea how to find my doctor’s office. So I call them. “We’re actually in Cranberry,” says the receptionist. Of course they are. Now, now only am I late for my appointment, I also have to backtrack through the very traffic I just successfully avoided.

When I finally arrive at the correct address, I make my way up to the check-in area on the third floor. I hand the receptionist my I.D. and insurance card, and she hands me yet another form to fill out, even though I already filled out a packet of forms they mailed me prior to my visit. Makes sense.

But wait—there’s another problem! Of course there is. My PCP’s name isn’t listed on my insurance card. “You’ll have to call them right now and have them add the doctor to your file,” says the receptionist, “otherwise we can’t let you in to see him.”

So I call my insurance provider. But when I give them my doctor’s name, they tell me that they have no one by that name in their system. The receptionist suggests I use the name of the main doctor at the office instead. They don’t see that name anywhere either. So now the receptionist is using my cell phone to speak directly to my insurance provider. “Oh…” she says after a few moments. “I see.”

Nothing good has ever followed the phrase: “Oh…I see.”

“Now what is it?” I ask.

“Apparently we no longer accept your insurance at this office. If you want to see the doctor, you’ll have to switch providers.”


And so, once again, I walk out of yet another doctor’s office without being seen. Good thing I wasn’t bleeding to death at the time.

Then again… ~


Copyright © 2016 Valentine J. Brkich

10 Responses to "What’s Up, Doc?"
    • Makes me wanna pull my hair out, Donna! Of course, that would necessitate medical care, and as we have seen, that’s just not possible. ; )

  1. UGH!!! How frustrating!! Health insurance is such a complete and total cluster! Meanwhile, your health and peace of mind are on hold. I’ve been there, myself, and I swear that my blood pressure rises any time I have to talk to the insurance folks or the providers. Sorry you had this experience, Val. Healthcare and health insurance remain broken in this country.

  2. My PCP was absolutely useless. Despite repeated phone calls to request that they read the lab results they acknowledged they had, months go by and then they just up and quit. And then the process of trying to request getting a copy of said lab test results… Ugh!

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