Monday, November 15, 2010

A Sign of What's to Come - Government Run Health Care in the Military


Today's update (I'm gonna have to start a new post here soon).  12 days later, still no prescription in the mail.  I go in to TRICARE.  I wait (only five minutes this time!!!) and tell them my story.  The patient liaison tells me I can file a complaint through an online TRICARE comment system or through ICE (Sorry, folks, no confidence here).

The TRICARE rep, wonderfully helpful though calls an actual reputable hospital (Boeblingen Kreis) and asks the questions my wife and I have (we think it’s a food allergy and whether they test for it or not).  She makes us an appointment at the new hospital for December (another 30 days away).  Unfortunately, because our original referral (issued in JULY!!!!) was issued under the old contract and would have to be updated by a Clinic doctor in order for the authorization to take place.

So, we have another appointment, with yet another doctor, to get yet another referral, to yet again to TRICARE, to sit for another 30-45 minutes, to get them to yet again fax a request for authorization to our new London pay-masters, for me to come back yet again in a few days from then, to wait yet again 30-45 minutes, to get yet again another approved authorization form, to finally go to see our new doctor.

Someone please tell me again were the whole ‘free’ is in ‘free’ health care?!?!?!?!

Please look at graphics below.  Tell me it’s more expensive paying out of your own pocket.  Go ahead, I dare you.

Read the whole story under the page


So, over a week ago, after praying very hard, my wife tries once more to reach the doctor.  She couldn’t and the receptionist said the doctor would call her back.  In what seemed to be a miraculous answer to prayer, the doctor returned the call twenty minutes later, listened to my wife as she explained what had happened, and said he would write and send her a prescription for the right medication, in the right dosage, and in the right format for our son.

That was last Wednesday.  Today is nine days later.  We still have nothing from the doctor.
We’re gonna start taking matters into our own hands.  The entire system is corrupt, decayed, and broken beyond remedy.  I don’t care if I have to go find a doctor who accepts cash for service, it’s bound to cost less both in real money and heart-ache/time.
I really wish I had the time/energy/determination to see this through.  I don’t think I or my wife can.  I need to bring this whole thing to TRICARE (and higher, obviously) but, I don’t expect anything from it.  In a world that functions according to, well, you know, capitalism, (Supply and demand… competition… that whole thing!!!) I’d just take my business elsewhere.  Or, better yet, I’d get TRICARE to cancel their contract with Olga Hospital.  No more automatic payments of millions of Euros per year no matter how bad a job they do things!  But, of course, the world is upside down… TRICARE offices here probably get kick-backs for the referrals they send (just like the housing office down the street).

I’m telling you, if I ever get elected to Congress, my mission will be to investigate the criminal enterprises that feed off military families overseas… specifically AAFES, TRICARE, and the various contract agencies handling housing, utilities, maintenance, etc.  But it’ll never happen.  It’s too big a business.


So called the clinic this morning to get same day appointment.  No dice.  Have to take him in to urgent care triage nurse and hope the system can get him seen by an American doctor.  Then, we have to hope that he'll actually write the script as the letter is in German and the clinic does not have any German-speaking docs in until the 12th.  I speak enough German, but, of course, I'm not allowed to speak on behalf of my son.  Have an appointment scheduled for him for tomorrow in case today doesn't work.  Crapshoot anyone?  BTW, all this happens while I am supposed to be working... you know... my job... protecting US strategic interests and all that.

Folks, in case you want to know what will happen with Obama care, here is a personal example of what’s to come.  Now please note I am an Active Duty military member whose health-care services come from your tax money.  This is a non-sustainable system as it consumes far more than the standard person’s HMO.  Think of the Military Health Care as one of those unfunded Union pensions.
Government-Stupidity-Induced Rage Boy

So, back in August, I make an appointment with our military clinic here in Germany for my son’s persistent acid reflux problem.  Thankfully there is an opening (it being vacation season, because I’ve seen waiting periods of up to two weeks) in a day or two.  So, my son is seen by the pediatrician who makes a referral for a Gastroenterologist Specialist at the local German Children’s hospital.  Because we are Americans, and have the Government-run TRICARE healthcare system, we have to go through our TRICARE ‘liaison’ office to get the referral turned into an appointment.  As usual, I wait 30-45 minutes to be seen by the TRICARE office (one of the most inefficiently run outfits I’ve ever seen).  The earliest they can see him was in late September, over a month away.  I take it and we wait while my son suffers constant discomfort and sometimes outright pain.  It impacts his sleeping and turns him into an uncontrollable monster at times.
Finally, in late September, we go to our appointment.  The doctor asks the same questions (thankfully, my wife is German and the conversation goes swimmingly) that the pediatrician asks.  He then says he needs a new authorization form from TRICARE in order for any further tests/visits can be done.  Thoroughly confused, we schedule his gastroscopy to figure out if there is anything physically wrong in his GI tract.  Thankfully, that appointment would only be in about two weeks.  I head back into the TRICARE office to … well … pick up our authorization forms of course (because we just must not have had the right ones!).  After waiting another obligatory 30-45 minutes, I am seen, and try to explain to them what has happened.  They say that the claims company that services the TRICARE contract in Europe was sold and a new outfit in London is doing everything now.  That, of course, happened in September (while we were waiting for our referral appointment) and everything has now changed.  I am told that they have to send a new request to the office in London, would have to wait for it to get approved, and then would have to come back in to the TRICARE office, to pick it up, to bring it to our gastroscopy appointment.  Shaking my head in disbelief and disgust I say I could try to come back in next week.  The TRICARE rep says something similar to, “Well, I hope it’s in by then!”
I show up there two days or so before the gastroscopy appointment and wait another 30-45 minutes for the TRICARE rep to see me.  As usual, they can’t find the forms and have to print out new ones.  Finally, the new authorization forms in hand, I leave.
So, on 10 October, we take our son into the Olga Hospital (the same place that botched my daughter’s tongue-tie repair surgery in January).  We are told to be there at 0800 and that he is not supposed to eat six hours before or drink four hours before.  We show up at 0730 and get processed in.  We wait in the preparation area until 0900 before anything happens.  Partly out of curiosity, and partly out of wanting to stir the pot of discontent, my wife asks why we have to show up so early, and why we couldn’t be given a time based on age of patient, etc, etc.  You know, pretty logical things.  Without blinking, the nurse explains (she must have answered this one before) for about five minutes as to the why.  She meanders through all sorts of realms of procedural and administrative issues.  I try to concentrate but eventually fade away because my German is not good enough to understand bureaucratese.  My wife later explains the crux of it is because many parents just let their kids eat and drink before the procedure and this therefore throws out of whack any schedule made.  So, we have to suffer for following the safety rules.  Thankfully, nothing untoward happens and we’re out of the hospital by 1200, having been told nothing is wrong physiologically with my son.  Grateful to escape the place, we forget to inquire as to the whole, “What’s next.”
We assume we will hear the results of the blood tests within a week, so we wait… and wait… and wait…  Finally, after over two weeks of waiting, my wife tries to get a hold of the doctor.  No luck.  She can’t get through the machines giving her useless information and directing her to push buttons to get to other machines giving her more useless information.  We “Google” the doctors name and finally come up with a number.  My wife calls him, leaves a detailed message (of course he wouldn’t be there) and we continue to wait.
One week later, we do not receive a telephone call, but we do get a letter in the mail (dated after my wife’s phone call) saying nothing is physiologically wrong with my son, to take Prilosec for eight weeks, and schedule a follow up appointment in eight to ten weeks.  Now this problem with my son has been going on since he was born, over three years ago.  My wife has become very knowledgeable in the areas of colic, acid reflux, GERD, Celiac, and all the other diseases or allergies that can cause this.  We were on Rantadine (Zantac) for three weeks and his problems got worse.  My guess, and the wife’s, is that the Prilosec is NOT going to work.  Allergy tests maybe?  I guess we should write him a letter asking these questions (excuse me while I go dig my tongue out of my cheek).
After calming down and thinking about it, we decide to plod on in this stupid, stupid game.  Now Prilosec is an over the counter drug.  Unfortunately it only comes in pill form and good luck getting my three-year-old to take that.  I have no idea what to do with the letter, so my wife suggests I go to our Army Clinic’s Pharmacy and figure it out.  Today I do that and am told by the Pharmacy personnel that I have to have an actual prescription from a doctor (ie, not a letter directing my son to take Prilosec at 10mg/day for eight weeks).  He further directs me to go to the nurses’ station for urgent care to see about possibly seeing a doctor at the clinic to get the letter turned into a prescription.  With my faith in the future of the free-world hanging by a slim thread at this point, I comply.  I sit in the waiting room for 30-45 minutes and am finally seen by the nurse.  She sympathizes with my plight, but states that my son’s doctor is on a business trip, will not be back for two weeks, and any other doctor (were he/she actually able to be seen that day) would have to personally examine my son and ask me the same questions all over again (you know, the ones they enter into their fancy computer health-care software that enables military doctors from Tokyo to Bamberg to access it).
I leave and go back to work.  One hour ago, I called my appointment line at the clinic to make that appointment to get that stupid medication that isn’t going to do anything so I can make another stupid follow-up appointment with the stupid Gastroenterology Specialist, so I can be denied my claim by the stupid new servicing company in London, because it has taken place outside the allotted time (OK, I made up those last two, but I have a right to be cynical).  So, now, I am told the first available appointment is on 12 November.

A Gratuitous "KHAAAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!!!!"
Someone please ring up Obama and ask him how this is easier, less costly, and more accessible health care!  Any takers?  Didn’t think so.  I long for the day when I can just call a doctor who I have researched on my own, ask how much it costs for his services, receive said services, and pay him on the spot for said services.  I guarantee you that it will not be any costlier and will definitely be timelier than this horrific experiment of layer upon layer of intermediaries and bureaucrats.
I thought preventative care was the whole buzzword around the health-care-government industrial complex.  This is flat-out ludicrous as well.  I don’t have time to work out, cook healthy, or actually work.  All my time is spent navigating these layers of bureaucracy.  And then, the frustration of which is gonna kill me by a massive-stress induced heart attack, or a rage-induced arterial brain blow-out.

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