Wednesday, October 02, 2013

An example of why government should just stay out of health care.

Yesterday, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, became effective in this country. Millions went to the web site to check it out.  Many experienced delays or crashes. 1% or so actually signed up.  Some folks really wanted to sign up but discovered that the cost of insurance through the ACA was more expensive than what they were already paying!

And then there are all the threats and intimidations in place to force the people to comply with the new law.

It's sobering.

But really, why do we have government involved with the health care industry when it's pretty clear they muck it up whenever they get involved.

Take the HIPPA law that we've had for about ten years or so.  That's been making life a bit inconvenient ever since it went into effect.  And yesterday I was reminded about that personally.

I took a friend to the surgery center for a turbinectomy - an internal nose job that opens the airways and makes it easier to breathe - as an alternative to CPAP or other measures.  Anyway, knowing that my friend was going to be groggy from anesthetic and bleeding profusely after her surgery, and also thinking that I was on her medical list of people to release medical info to, I took it upon myself to make her follow up appointment as soon as her surgeon came out and told me he wanted to see her on Thursday. I figured, since I would be driving, I wanted to get a good time before they all filled up.  So I called the office.

Our conversation was something like this:

"Good afternoon, Dr. Nosejob's office. Can I help you?" 

"Yes hello.  I would like to make a postop appointment for Thursday.  Dr. Nosejob said he would be in the office between 8 and 12."

"Sure, what's your name?

And at that moment, I thought, I should just pretend I'm my friend and get this done.  But then I thought, no, I'm on her HIPPA list of people to-tell-stuff-to so I'll just just tell them that I'm calling for my friend.  Either way, we'll get the appointment.

Big Mistake.

"I'm Elena LaVictoire and I'm calling for my friend Suzy Narrownares.  She had surgery today and Dr. Nosejob told me he wants to see her on Thursday to unpack her nose."

"Hold please."

So I was on hold for about five minutes, listening to canned fluffy music and hearing ads about nose jobs, boob jobs and tummy tucks.  Finally the phone girl came back on the line.

"I'm sorry, but you are not on her HIPPA list, so I cannot make an appointment for her.  She will have to call back herself.

I decided to put up some resistance.
"Well technically you aren't giving me any information.  I'm giving YOU information.  Dr. Nosejob wants to see my friend Suzy Narrownares on Thursday because he just finished her surgery.  He was standing in front of my just five minutes ago and he wants her to come in to have her nose unpacked."

"I'm sorry, but since you are not on her list HIPPA forbids me to give you any information and I cannot make an appointment.  She will need to call herself."

"Well, just for the sake of argument - suppose she can't talk.  Suppose she is so knocked out she can't call at all herself all day and she misses out on the appointment times.  What if she misses the times and then gets impatient and annoyed and pulls the packing out of her nose herself and bleeds profusely and puts herself into a coma.  Wouldn't it be better if we just made the appointment now?"

"No.  You're not on her list and I cannot break HIPPA law.  I am sorry."

"You aren't now, but you could be."  (insert dramatic pause for effect)  Do you still have times available? "

"Yes.  I have appointments open between 10:30 and noon."

"Well could you just pencil in her for 10:30 and I'll have her call you to confirm."

"No."

"Fine... inaudible expletive muttered" as I ended the call.  And that was the end of that conversation. 

Relating this story to my friend, Suzy Narrownares, she laughed (as much as one can with two nostrils filled with gauze and a nose contraption holding gauze over both nostrils to catch any residual blood that got through.  She quickly called the office herself.

"Good afternoon, Dr. Nosejob's office. Can I help you?"

In a high nasal gurggly tone my friend replied which made her sound nothing like her usual self, "Yes, this is Suzy Narrownares.  I had surgery today and I'm supposed to make an appointment for Thursday."

"I have an opening at 10:30."

"Great. I'll take it."

and that was the end of that call.

Suzy then mocked my inability to impersonate her to make an appointment but I told her I was afraid she'd ask me something I didn't know - like her social security number by heart or something.

"That's easy," quipped Suzy, "just tell them you're not in a private area and would prefer not to give that information."

Wow.

But my point in relating all of this is that the federal government and it's laws handed down for Mount Washington are causing real people to forget things- like common sense - such is the fear of being punished from the powers that be.  And the land of the free and liberty gets chipped away - one surly medical receptionist at a time.





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