Friday, February 27, 2015

Chronic Pain, Illness, Medicare, Disability, Medicare Advantage Plans and the Government Telling Our doctors how to treat us as Patients! WE MUST stand up and make things CHANGE!!!

I didn't get to mention this yesterday due to all of the "drama" surrounding my pain pump ordeal, so I will mention it today. While my pain doctor was working to refill my pump, we began discussing Medicare, medications, insurance, etc. Come to find out there were some people that switched over to a different Medicare Advantage Plan offered by United Healthcare, which AARP endorses. Well, I did my homework for months before switching. I had the Humana Medicare Advantage Plan for several years, well in fact ever since I was put on Medicare. Here in Texas, someone who is put on Medicare "disability" before the age for retirement, has an extremely difficult time getting a regular "supplement" to Medicare. About the only way you can get your "Part B" and drugs covered is by taking a "Medicare Advantage Plan".... so that means you "give up" your regular Medicare benefits, and you take one of these... there are not that many, Humana and United Healthcare are the two main ones. So, that means your choices are very narrow. I worked for months checking out the United Healthcare plan before I switched on January 1st. I got online, added all of my doctors, added all of my medications... to see if they were covered. I also called United and spoke to a gentleman there, that stayed on the phone with me about an hour. We again, went through my doctors that I presently see, through all of my medications, including the Orencia. At the time last year, Humana did NOT cover Orencia. So, I had to get it through the pharmaceutical company, which we know is time consuming and full of red tape paperwork, for the patient and the doctors. I had finally gotten on it, but then at the first of the year, they wanted to redo all the paperwork. Well, after I jumped through hoops for weeks, calling them, finding out what they needed, faxing paperwork to my doctors office, faxing paperwork to the Pharmaceutical company, I come to find out that United Healthcare DOES COVER the Orencia. So, then I had to get the "prior authorization" again from the doctor, but after about 4 weeks of being without my medication, it was finally approved and in fact they sent me 3 months of Orencia. So, I don't have to jump through hoops, and should be good until next year as far as that goes. BUT, now we have an issue, that it seems the Orencia is not working. In fact Rheumatologist called me a week or so ago, and I had told him in an email that I was not better, so he doubled my Prednisone to 10 mg daily, which I really hated to do, but it sounded like it maybe a way to see if that would help the inflammation. Anyway, onto the subject at hand. As my doctor was refilling my pump, he asked me about my United Healthcare Plan. I told him it was one that that had told me they would take, so it was the one I chose. I was very worried about them paying for the pump refill. but, I guess it got approved. BUT, HE told me, that some of his patients that took out a "Unitedhealthcare" Medicare Advantage Plan policy, got a "new card" at the first of February, and that their pump refills among other things were NOT COVERED!!! He said about 20% of the patients on these plans somehow got screwed over, and now they can't get their pumps refilled by him!!!! So, when I told him about going to the Summit in March at the end of the month, he told me to tell it like it is, and tell them how badly they are ruining things for patients, doctors, and putting patients lives in the throws of jeopardy. It seems somehow they automatically "switched" some patients from the plan they thought they got, and then got new cards, and it was NOT the plan they thought they were getting!!! This absolutely has to do with Medicare, the Government, and also not just Federal Government but our State governments also. I should be able to get a "Medicare Supplement" just like anyone on Medicare, but here in TX, they "make you" almost take the Advantage Plan instead. Even though there are about 8 or 9 different types of supplement plans, all in letters like Plans, F, G, O, etc... and they are some more expensive because they cover more and some don't cover as much, so those plans are cheaper. None of them are "cheap" but then you are not dealing with many doctors who are refusing to take these (MAP) due to them not getting paid!!! He told me before there were a couple of patients he did very expensive surgeries on, like an implanted pump, and it took him over 2 years to get paid and then he had to go in front of a judge to get them to pay the bills. No doctors can continue to see patients and keep afloat financially if they are having to wait, 3, 6, 9 months or more to get paid for services!!!! It is crazy! So, he looked at my Insurance Card, and said I was okay. But, he said again almost 20% of the patients he sees are on these plans, and this one in particular they won't pay for the pump refills. Also, I asked well can't they just pay cash and have you refill them! He said as far as he knew and he does NOT know why, but NO, if those types of plans do NOT cover something, a patient cannot "pay" out of pocket to have it done!!! NOW HOW STUPID IS THAT???? What difference does it make, if the insurance won't pay, then they patient should be allowed to pay for it!!!! Things are going to get much worse before they get better. I fear I maybe facing either hip surgery(ies) or finding out I have compressed discs in my back from the osteoporosis or something is going on. My pain levels have just shot up immensely, and it seems we cannot get it back under control for some reason. Something is causing my problems, and I am sure it means X-Rays and CT Scans to try and see if something is going on... I cannot have an MRI at all, so that makes it a bit harder. Anyway, he always keeps up with what is going on especially with Medicare, the Advantage Plans and the government..... many doctors don't really keep up so they have no clue what goes on with patients and trying to get things covered!!!

I am totally fed up with it all. It seems every day I battle with these ridiculous headaches. There for a good while, I went for months and months and the only "headache" I would have is a Lupus Migraine, as I called it. I could go in and see my PCP (and in fact I see him tomorrow) have an injection of a corticosteroid and within about 24 to 36 hours the headache would be gone. I've had almost a none stop headache now for at least 3 weeks. As long as I don't move around a great deal, and are not up doing things, it settles down. Yet, as soon as I am up and moving around, or even setting here trying to type my head is just pounding. I've yet to understand why the very sudden change in the headaches honestly. I've tried to research it out, and of course since I've had migraines off and on all my life, there maybe times I go through this process of having them and the they go away for awhile. 

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