Resolution Chronicles: learning to trust my doctor and accept my insurance company

Resolution Chronicles: learning to trust my doctor and accept my insurance company

My insurance company, pharmacy, my doctor and I have to work together to get prescriptions filled. If the system breaks down, I will suffer the consequences. It’s not personal when the system breaks down, but it affects me personally.

Last month I had to pay out of pocket for five pills of a prescription because of just such a break down. Thirty dollars for five pills. And, as you well know, that’s a pittance compared to the price of many medications out there.

When this confusion happens, I don’t handle it very well. I’ve been without some prescriptions for a few days in the past and it can make life pretty bumpy. Without one, I can’t sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. Without another, I will begin experiencing flu-like symptoms that keep me from being able to work.

Even as I write this, I feel my heart starting to race. But my brain says, “Really? Is it that bad?” I’ve survived pretty well without those meds in an emergency, and I haven’t had to pay out of pocket very often.

I fight anxiety, anxiety always wins, to paraphrase John Mellencamp. But I am trying very hard to learn a different pattern.

I got a letter in the mail last week from my new insurance company, a change forced by my employer and not chosen by me. The bottom line was, we’re not going to pay for the medication your doctor has prescribed.

My first reaction was panic. Not concern or thought, but panic. I immediately began imagining how hard it would be to cycle down from that medication and to cycle back on to another one. And, I know there is no equivalent for this drug, and it’s the only thing that’s worked for a while. Maybe I’d have to pay out of pocket, $200 or so a month.

I go from zero to 60 pretty fast with these things. From panic I usually move to vigilance. I start making phone calls, talking to the insurance company, the pharmacy, the doctor. I problem solve from the outside. With every phone call my anxiety increases as I wait on hold or wait for a call back.

And then, I remembered that the last time I saw my doctor he said, “Why don’t you try letting me solve these problems?”

So, I did something revolutionary for me. I waited for my scheduled appointment, took the letter to him, and consulted with him directly. I didn’t go on the website of my new insurer and didn’t do background work. I decided to let him do his job.

He read the letter and muttered. (He’s a mutterer.) “They just need a pre-authorization. We can take care of that.”

I pointed out to him that I hadn’t taken any action, but had brought the problem directly to him. (He mutters and I look for gold stars to put on my chart.) “Yes, and it makes things easier this way. When you get involved it can confuse the system.”

Trusting people is hard for me, and trusting systems is almost impossible. People have let me down often enough, and insurance companies send letters threatening to keep me from using a medication that has improved my life.

But, I’m tired of believing that I’m the only person I can trust. It’s exhausting and it’s not true. People come through for me often enough.

I know that my vigilance and micromanaging have caused me anxiety and wasted my energy, and I know that lots of other people allow systems to work and seem to have better luck than I do.

Ultimately, it’s hard to know if the system will work if I don’t give it a chance to.

So, I’m taking deep breaths. I gave the letter over to my doctor and his staff. I’m going to let them handle this from the inside, and I’m going to accept that there’s some risk involved.

There may be complications. There probably will be complications. Such is life. But I’ve interrupted my pattern, slowed down my thoughts and have chosen to try something new.

This post is part of a year-long series about my New Year’s resolution. All in the series are included in the Resolution Chronicles category below. This is the first post that explains my resolution.

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