Monday, October 15, 2012
Let's Go To The Eye Doctors...
This morning I attempted to schedule an appointment with a local ophthalmologist. Granted, I've not seen my optometrist since 2006, and plan to do so later the Fall. A recent conversation with a friend who works in the field near Washington DC convinced me a more extensive exam wouldn't hurt.
Apparently the system isn't set up for cases like mine.
My first call was to my Optometrist for a referral to an eye doctor. The perky young lady, "Natalie" seemed confused why I didn't want to come in for their exam. I explained at my age I like to have a more in-depth examination of my eyes, especially since its probably been twenty years or more since I had an actual doctor examine me. She asked if I needed new glasses. I said "probably" and once I get this exam out of the way, I planned on scheduling an appointment with their practice to address my glasses. Natalie asked me if I was sick or had been having problems seeing. I told her no more than usual. She then put me on hold, returning shortly to ask if I was displeased with their service? I told her of course not, that's why we've brought our family to this practice for almost twenty years. I asked about the referral and she said she was sorry, she couldn't give me one. I was to schedule an appointment with them and of their doctor found an issue, then they'd refer me to an actual eye doctor.
I thanked Natalie for her time and decided to find an ophthalmologist on my own.
I then did a google search for ophthalmologists in my area and found a few, including a pretty big place I've driven by several times. Their building is impressive, so I called them. "Cindy" greeted me warmly and listened as I explained what I was looking for.
The level of flummox I apparently caused Cindy was unexpected by yours truly. First, she said they don't write prescriptions. I told her that's fine because I don't need them to. She asked if I was a diabetic or had any previously diagnosed vision disorders or diseases. I said, "no, none of that applies to me." I then mentioned that I have VSP Vision Coverage to which Cindy replied, "Sir-we don't take insurance, we're strictly medical."
Now I was flummoxed. A healthcare practice that doesn't take any insurance? Surely this wasn't a clinic. I then asked her is everything straight out of pocket? She replied "yes." She then asked me if I was interested in Lasik, to which I said, "No, I just want a basic eye exam from an ophthalmologist."
She put me on hold.
When she came back, she asked me why I had called them. We went through that one more time. I then said, "Look, I have United Healthcare as our major medical provider, do you accept that coverage?"
Cindy said, "Well, yes we do-why didn't you say that?"
Now we were getting somewhere.
I then asked what might my co-pay be and so on. Cindy then explained that she had no way of knowing, that I should call my insurance company and ask them. That sounded reasonable to me, so I thanked her for her time and said I'd be back to her.
Ten minutes later I'd finished with UHC and now armed with the details of my coverage (which apparently is crazy good stuff) I called back the ophthalmologist's office to provide them some details and schedule an exam.
Cindy did not answer the phone.
I had to go through this whole ordeal once more.
The good news is that I'll see an ophthalmologist in a few weeks.