Monday, July 24, 2017

Show Me The Money!

So there's a backstory to the week or so that I went through testing and was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer.

By the time I finished testing and returned to the oncologist to hear the final results, my insurance plan changed. We had moved into a new home during all this, so our mail was rerouted and delayed causing me to find out after the fact that this oncologist was not on our new plan. I cringed at the thought.

So, at my next appointment, I tearfully explained the problem to the oncologist. I wanted to be fiscally responsible, so I felt I had to switch to an in-network doctor.

I'll never forget the oncologist's response, as he gently slipped the paperwork from my hands: "You shouldn't have to worry about money at a time like this," he said. "We'll take whatever your insurance pays. My office will not send you a bill."

I couldn't imagine being the receiver of such generosity. It wasn't what I'd expected. I really didn't want to switch doctors. I liked his manner and felt confident in his care. 

But three months later, as I began scheduling the unending rounds of follow-up appointments,  it didn't seem fair to anyone to start a relationship with an out-of-network oncologist. I felt I had to switch now.

So I did.

I made an appointment with an oncologist covered by my plan, gathered my records and went to see him.

In a business-like approach, the new specialist said he agreed with the diagnosis and the wait-and-see approach to treatment. 

"We can only attack this once," he said. Then, what he said caused me to catch my breath. "When it comes back, and it always does, there's nothing we can do for you."

He seemed baffled that my test results didn't match my good health. "You ought to go to MD Anderson Cancer Institute in Dallas," he said. "They'd love to get their hands on you, because you're healthy."

I left his office in tears.

I returned to the original oncologist. "I told you not to worry about the money," he said. "I'll take whatever your insurance pays."

So began my routine appointments. His office didn't bill me. But each quarter, I'd study the Explanation of Benefits from my insurance company and pay whatever amounts they didn't. 

I figured if this oncologist was doing this for me, he's doing it for others. I wanted to help in whatever way possible.

Besides, I knew if I went into chemotherapy, I'd have to accept the offer. But for now, if I remained healthy, I'd gladly write those checks. 

It was, in a sense, my thank you to God.

God didn't let me down then, and little did I know, God had a plan for my future as well. You'll see, as you keep reading my Monday posts. Thanks for being here. May God bless you today!

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