This is a more generalized healthcare post, as opposed to being specifically about breast cancer.
Now is the time of year that I have my seemingly endless rounds of doctor’s appointments. This week alone will be hundreds of dollars in co-pays.
And when we go to our doctors we want to be able to spend a little time with them, but hospital systems all over seem to be double and triple scheduling their professionals. I had that happen today. I didn’t mind waiting and my doctor was a little bit behind not terribly behind, but I know he was behind because of over booking because when I got to my section of the waiting room so did two other women for him, which means he had been triple booked for the same time or within a few minutes of each other. That is not fair to our medical professionals, nor to us as patients.
When I was talking to one of the nurses today who was helping me, she said the other problem is no matter what the health system or the hospital, everywhere is short-staffed. I know that’s true because since two hospitals closed over the past few months in the Pennsylvania county in which I live in (Chester County, thank you, Tower Health), the wait times in emergency rooms are 6 to 8 hours minimum.
In addition to long wait times in emergency rooms, people just can’t get appointments. And it’s not just Southeastern Pennsylvania, it’s parts of New Jersey and a lot of the state of Delaware. Hours upon hours of waiting time in emergency rooms, with some people having no choice but to get treated via the ER because they can’t get appointments with a regular medical professionals to deal with things.
Back to where I live in Chester County, Pennsylvania . Tower Health out of Reading, PA totally screwed a large part of the county in which I live by closing to hospitals, Brandywine and Jennersville. They have put a dangerous burden on the rest of the hospitals near where I live which could affect me or anyone detrimentally. And that is a standard of care that I don’t find acceptable within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For example, I can’t imagine being told as a cancer patient getting treatment in one of these hospitals that they were dumping all their patients and closing! It boggles the mind that the state didn’t look into them for malfeasance.
But the thing is there are situations like this playing out all across the United States. We are supposed to be one of the richest countries in the world yet we have the poorest healthcare system. It was improving for a while until it wasn’t. Our costs keep going up as insureds and patients. Yet what we get as far as approved healthcare services does not keep pace.
I just found (for example) out my annual limits for my lymphedema physical therapy. It cost me $100 a week and co-pays just to do this. Lymphedema is not something that is never completely cured, you learn to control it. Part of learning to control it is going through the physical therapy for it because it’s extraordinarily helpful. Yet, it’s like my insurance company doesn’t take that seriously for me as a breast cancer survivor. So I will finish out what sessions I have left for the calendar year 2022, and have to essentially reapply in 2023. Nothing is continuous. it’s bullshit, quite frankly.
This year I had to change my 6 month oncology appointment because my insurance company wouldn’t budge three days as to the time frame in which they would pay for a mammogram. And going over this mammogram is a big part of this one particular bi-annual visit.
Sounds petty and it is. You see it’s not just a new calendar year now, you have to be at least 365 days from your last mammogram. I was literally a handful of days short. So I had to change all my appointments to suit them as in the insurance company. I think that is also bullshit, quite frankly. I am the cancer patient and cancer survivor, not them. They should be more accommodating of me, yet for the privilege of paying through the nose to have health insurance, I have to be accommodating of them.
So again, it goes back to the whole topic of standard of care. All I see are medical professionals trying to make it work so they can treat their patients. And it’s impossible. It takes forever now even to get scheduled for surgeries that aren’t elective. As patients, it’s also very hard to connect with your medical professionals sometimes, even for basic interactions.
It shouldn’t be so hard, yet it is. And this is the time of year every year that I end up feeling like I have a mild case of medical PTSD because it’s such a pain in the ass to get everything done. And I am detail oriented and know how to (mostly) navigate the system.
Something has to give.