2013

medical update, sort of, part 1 of 3

So, the last I wrote I mentioned I needed to see a cardiologist but feared the ones listed didn't take patients without medical insurance. I was correct in that worry. Neither did. The secretary of the second doctor recommended that I call the hospital and ask if they could suggest anyone else, so I called. I got transferred around and finally talked to someone but she said they didn't keep a list of doctors who accept patients without insurance. What she suggested was to try to apply for a government or state program like Medi-Cal. I hadn't thought of that.

I went online to the website for San Bernardino County and found the address and phone number of the local Transitional Assistance Department (TAD) under the Human Services System. I called first to see if I needed an appointment but the woman I talked to said no and that I could apply right then over the phone. So she asked me a slew of questions then saying she was sorry but I didn't qualify. But she did suggest I try for the Medically Indigent Adult Health Care program which is somewhat like a restrictive HMO plan with a monthly fee based on your income. The downside is that for primary care you're limited to a local doctor that takes part in the program. Here in Barstow just one doctor's office is part of that plan. All emergency services are only covered at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) down in Colton, about 75 miles away, a big problem for someone like me who doesn't drive. Plus many procedures and visits to specialist must been done there as well. Seeing a specialist only occurs if your local doctor puts in for a referral and the program agrees. That all being said, I'd have access to doctors. I had been told to pick up an application at Dr. Mike's Walk-in Clinic which I did. I filled out the two forms and then realized I forgot to ask where to send it to. I called back to the TAD and got a girl (a trainee) who said to send it to an address that was listed on one of the forms and that it could take a month or two for the application to be processed. That's not what I wanted to hear. So I called the program directly at ARMC and talked to a worker there who agreed with what the trainee had said, but then said if I came down there and applied in person I could be approved right on the spot.

On the 8th, my birthday, my mom drove me down to the ARMC, turned in my forms and signed in, waiting for a worker to see me. It didn't take too long. The worker asked me just a few questions, entered my info into the computer, and made photocopies of needed ID (driver's license or state ID plus social security number.) Then she wished me a happy birthday and then printed out a plan card. I was approved. My local doctor turns out to be Dr. Mike. So, when we got back into town I went to the doctor's office to pick up the forms I knew that first time patients needed to fill out, which I did later at home. The next day I went to the office, turned over the forms and signed in. I didn't have to wait too long and got a nurse first who took my vitals and questioned me a bit and then I explained about my pains and visit to the emergency room. So then she left and I was seen by a doctor (but not Dr. Mike) who asked just about the same questions but when I mentioned the tests that were done at the hospital he sent a fax requesting my results. He told me to go ahead and go home while they waited to get the results but first he gave me a prescription for the same high blood pressure medication that I got from the doc at the hospital. So I waited and called on Thursday but was told the info hadn't arrived yet. I waited until Monday to call again and was told by the receptionist that the referral went in. Referral? I asked what she meant. Apparently, they got the results not too long after I had called on Thursday and the doctor, after looking at them, agreed with the doctor at the hospital that I should see a cardiologist so he put in for a referral to the program. Now it was in their hands and they would call me. I waited until Friday then called the program to see what was going on and the worker I talked to looked into it and said I was approved and that they (and I) are waiting for an appointment to be set up to see someone there at ARMC. So now I just have to be patient and wait.
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