Friday, May 26, 2017

Medicare and Me

I'm very proud of my red-white-and-blue-Official-Old-Person's card.  It makes me smile whenever I see it lurking in my wallet.  It made me smile when I handed it across the counter for my 3-D Mammogram and for my flu shot and for my very first Wellness Check.

Yes, I had a Medicare Wellness visit, just as I will every year until I am no more.  I can choose my doctor (a lovely, young, gerontologist with enough debt from med school to keep me practicing for a long, long, long time).  I have no co-pay or deductible.  It's a gift from the government (if you choose to think of Medicare as a privilege and not a right).  It's my right.

It's also very weird.

Apparently, the physician is not allowed to examine me.  The Nurse Practitioner took my height and weight and blood pressure and pulse and left me, fully dressed, to wait for the doctor.  She entered and reviewed my two sided questionnaire (Are you afraid of falling?  Do you have someone to talk to about your needs/fears/concerns?  Is there someone you can ask for help?  Do you have trouble remembering your medications/appointments/schedule? ) and then she let the bomb drop:  she is not allowed to touch me.

No deep breaths with the stethoscope pressed to my back.  No light shining in my eyes or my ears or my nose.  No palpating of my glands or my carotid artery.  No little hammer to my knee.  Nothing.  Nada. Rien.  Zip.

She thought it was as strange as I did, but, she explained, the research showed that it was not cost effective for physicians to lay hands on their patients in these annual Wellness Checks.  What they'd discover by touching and feeling and looking wasn't worth finding, we supposed.

And then, it got weirder.  While physical contact and natural observation were deemed unneeded, an EKG was deemed imperative.  And so, I got naked and left the gown open to the front and the NP came back in and attached the leads and ran the test and I dressed myself and prepared to leave.... until the doctor herself came back to talk to me.

One of my readings was seriously awry.

Had they taken my blood pressure right then, well, who knows?  I could feel my pulse pounding in my throat, my temples were red and about to burst, my heart was beating faster and faster.  I wasn't feeling that delighted about my Wellness Check after all.

The doctor reassured me that she was not worried, that the most probably explanation was a faulty lead or a poor connection. Still, it was mandatory that we follow up and so I received a referral to a cardiologist (The nicest and the best one in town, she told me) who I'll see this afternoon.

I had no symptoms.  The doctor isn't worried.  I should be fine.  This is precautionary.  Blah blah blah.... I'm scared and I'm wondering and all that money we saved by not having her touch me with anything but the EKG seems to flying out the window as I head to an undoubtedly much more expensive investigation of my health than is really needed.........  I hope.


8 comments:

  1. Wow, I am one of those who avoids doctors for as long as I can. Mine let me know prescriptions would cease if I didn't get an app't for a physical (they called it that this time and wellness visit last time). It had only been 18 months and I used to stretch it out much further but oh well. I yielded to power but the soonest they could get me in conflicted with our Yellowstone trip and then grandchildren's weeks here. So end of August. The last time he touched, but this will be interesting to see what comes of this next one.

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    1. If I had presented with a problem, the care would've been different. I'm curious about your August visit; let us know?
      a/b

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  2. My husband was feeling a tightness in his chest, I took him to our GP. The aide ran the EKG, the doctor was shocked at the results and sent us to the nearest hospital ER. They ran another EKG and asked him why he was here. But they decided to keep him overnight and run extensive tests including an echocardiogram and a chemical stress test. They found nothing, nada, zip. Sent him home with the lowest possible medication dose for high blood pressure, 130/70??
    Then the bill showed up and I thought for sure he was going to have a heart attack. Just shy of $20,000. It was before the insurance kicked in.
    They finally decided it must have been a faulty lead or a poor connection with the first EKG.
    Have a wonderful Memorial Weekend!

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    1. I had the intermediate step, of the cardiologist. With tightness and a bad read, I suppose the hospital was a good choice. ... and so was having insurance. With the AHCA,tho, any futher heart related symptoms will be " previously existing " and good luck with that.....
      My Monday post has the Cardiology Story.... I, too, am fine.
      a/b

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  3. My PCP explained to me that the annual wellness exam is for the purpose of "compiling statistics that they keep on file somewhere." I'm not sure that I'll bother to have it again. My current medicare advantage plan allows a 0 co-pay annual physical where the doctor does get to touch the patient.

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    1. I'm going to investigate that next year. Thanks for helping this Medicare newbie figure it out!
      a/b

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  4. This just seems incredibly stupid. I'll be 65 in November - I am not looking forward to giving up my current coverage. We also see a gerontologist in Tucson - she's young and should out last us both.

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    1. I found a wonderful advisor who helped me choose the right plan. Love my Tucson gerontologist - Dr. Shivani Ruben ,
      a/b

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