Monday, November 12, 2007

More grumblings. Maybe I've got Seasonal Affected Disorder?

Over the weekend I tried to play a game of racquetball with a friend of mine. Prior to starting the game I was slightly out of breath. Shortly into the game, I was incapacitated, lying on the court trying to catch my breath.

Since 4th or 5th grade I've suffered from a very low-level asthma. I've always just tolerated it, and considered the symptoms nothing more than a minor nuisance. The couple of times I tried to use an inhaler, I saw no change in my ability to breath, with or without the inhaler, so I don't have one. I also take no medication, other than Sudafed sometimes to control allergies.

Generally, I think doctors are a waste of time, money, and a huge inconvenience and discomfort. My personal worldview is that whatever you're dealing with, just cope with it and eventually you'll muddle through and the problem will go away.

That explains why I tend to go years between doctor's appointments. In fact, my last visit was shortly after Warren Zevon went on David Letterman to discuss his being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Warren said, if I recall correctly, "Yeah, not seeing a doctor for about 20 years may have been a tactical error." [Edit: According to Wikipedia, the exact quote was "I may have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years." ]

Warren could be a real smart-ass. [NPR's 4-minute recap after Zevon's death.] But when he said that I was motivated to go get a physical exam, and I did. According to the omniscient Oracle (um, that would be Google), Zevon's Letterman appearance was October 30, 2002. So that means it's been about 5 years since my last visit to a doctor.

After the asthma attack that squashed my racquetball match, I was pretty annoyed. Thanks to the damn asthma, I was prevented from playing the game. I was embarrassed. And, of course, I was out of breath for the rest of the day, and even now am a little bit out of breath, two days later.

So I decided to revisit the doctor. First, I had to try and remember my Doctor's name. Took a little while, but I found it. I then looked him up on my Healthcare Provider's website. Guess what? He's not a participant in the plan! Well, why shoudl I expect something good & pleasing from an insurance company, right? OK, no big deal, I'll use my wife's physician. After all, I now remember that when we switched to this plan we saw my doctor was absent, but her doctor was a member. So I called her doctor's office to make myself an appointment for a physical/check-up. AND.... they are no longer members of the plan either! BUT, but, but... they are listed on the healthcare providers' website as plan participants. Nevertheless, they've stopped participating in that plan.

SO, I ran a new search for a physician from the provider's website. I searched for any Primary Care Physician within 10 miles of my house, associated with the hospital we've used for Emergency Room care or to have our children delivered. There were a grand total of *9* results. Nine.

OK. Brain starts thinking to see if there are any alternatives. Waitaminute - I'm paying $666 per MONTH for this crap. Surely there must be a better way to spend the money. So I investigate to see if I can drop the crappy plan I'm in now, and insure myself for less. The absolute cheapest plan I can find to cover my family, a plan that would probably be far worse than what I suffer with now, is over $1000/month.

This sucks. There's no nicer way to put it.

And, if any of you are curious what provider I need to suffer through, it's Oxford Health Plans Liberty Plan. Where I enjoy the liberty of not being able to find a doctor. Whee!

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