If you’ve been following me for a while, you may have seen that I had to have emergency eye surgery back in January. Due to the fact I had to wait 2 days with an exposed optic nerve, one surgery wasn’t enough. I had to go back this week for another attempt to repair what they couldn’t finish in January. This is not my first time at this rodeo either in that this is my second retinal detachment and, no, I’m not diabetic. I had severe near sightedness as a child, which later turned out to be caused by prenatal cataracts. The lenses went dark when I was 35. Luckily, they’d finally perfected interocular lens replacements. For the first time in 30 years, I didn’t need glasses to get out of bed. But the over stretch of the eyeball itself was done, so I was still at high risk for detachment. The right eye blew in 2004 and the left one in January. And, as I said, this would be take two on the left eye.
I’ve been very lucky in that for a large portion of my adult life, I’ve been able to either get medical insurance through my own employer or my spouses. I currently am on Medicare due to disability and am carried on my spouses military (TriCare) so that we don’t have to pick up the deductible. A lot of folks call this Medicare gap coverage. All I know is that it costs us about $400 a month in premiums for our 3 person family and it, for the most part, it doesn’t cover the prescriptions I have to take to stay alive.
I arrived early for the surgery, got registered and such. Within 3 minutes, the surgical nurse called my name and was escorting me back to pre-op. Suddenly, the woman I’d just dealt with in registration was running after us and yelling my name. I turned wondering what on earth could be the matter. “The matter” turned out to be her impression that I had a co-pay that I’d have to pay BEFORE they’d touch my eye. I was incredulous at her request as I know the 10K+ surgery in January had limited out our catastrophic cap already and I told her so. Her reply was that the insurance company was saying I had to pay $987.36 right then or reschedule my surgery! I tried convincing her it was a mistake. She was bent on convincing me they’d bill me if I continued on into surgery. Then the nurse stepped in, she wanted to make sure I knew I’d be liable for the bill and that “we do this all the time when people don’t have the co-pay.” Do what? I inquired. Reschedule surgery until you can pay, says she. Now, I’ve been coping ok with being blind in one eye for 3 months, but I was looking forward to having that fixed. I’d had to wait until I’d healed enough from the first botched job to have the second attempted as it was. I was Not going to cope any more. I carefully told them to bill me and I’d contact the archdiocese and the foundation that runs the eye clinic as well about hounding patients at the door to the surgical suite. I know I’m poor, but I am human and every one of us deserves the best possible medical treatment and health care. None of us deserve to be harassed about co-pays, premiums, forward pay, health savings accounts etc. Even way back when I was nursing, I was for single payer. All we’ve done is up the ante to insurance companies who don’t give a crap about people, just bottom lines.