Friday, January 26, 2018

It's Not You, It's My Insurance

Breaking up with your doctor

Is there anything more uncomfortable than a breakup? Especially one where there’s no bad blood (yet)? Perhaps not. Recently I had a change in insurance coverage. My new policy allows for lower copays and prescription discounts with a hospital group endocrinologist. Naturally, I jumped at this – I have only been seeing my adult endo for a couple of years, and while she is very kind and helpful, the pros outweighed the cons in regards to switching – especially cost wise.

As exciting as this switch is – as fellow T1Ds, you know how big a deal any decrease in out-of-pocket expense is – it has caused me a significant amount of worry. What an icky feeling, having to tell my doctor I am switching. I weighed the options on the drive to the office. What exactly would I say? Who would I tell first – the office staff, or the MD? Will they be offended? Will they fax my chart, or will I have to sign a whole heap of paperwork to release the records? As I sat with this discomfort, I felt an eerie sense of déjà vu. Thankfully, my APN and MD were incredibly gracious and understanding. I left the office with a bittersweet feeling. Reflecting on my visit, I felt familiarity wash over me – like I had just broken up with my endo.

So what to do if you’re in this jam?

Make your decision before you enter the office. Switching doctors is a big decision for someone with type 1. Typically the recommendation is to see your endocrinologist every 3 months. This is way more often than your annual PCP visit. If you’re super comfortable with your endo and are feeling secure financially, it may be worth the extra out of pocket to stay.
Stick to your decision. Once you make your decision, stick with it. Don’t waffle in the office. Professionally, the staff should understand that this is your decision even if they are sad to see you go. It’s okay to express these feelings on both ends, as long as no one gets carried away. Be kind, but firm. If you need a scapegoat, tell them you simply can’t afford to continue there. Blame your insurance. No one likes insurance anyway, doctors included.
Have your records faxed. Not all offices will do this, and some require a signed release of information. Be prepared to ask about it while you’re there, and have the fax number of your new doc handy. If they can’t fax it, they should be able to give you a hard copy to take with you to your new significant other.

Relationships – doctor relationships, romantic relationships, friendships – can be hard. Endings are usually inevitable. When it comes down to it, you gotta do you. As the wise men once sang, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

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