Sunday, August 3, 2014

Doctors and Medical insurance

    Sooner or later you will face the necessity to go to the doctor. Let's talk a little bit about medical insurance and going to the doctor as it may not be exactly the same as in your native country.

    Because you followed your husband, he should probably already have a medical insurance provided by his company. If you are still not added to his insurance, do it immediately. You should carry your own card with you always. How do you know that the insurance includes you in your husbands insurance plan? Insurance company will resend cards for your husband and you via mail and on yours you will see your name as well as your husband's name. Make sure you also have a dentist insurance card (they are separated, one card for dentist, one for all other doctors).
     There are different insurance companies: more wide-ranged or less (accepted by most doctors or in less offices) and different insurance plans PPO,HMO (covering all expenses or only part). If you see $$ sign on your card, you will need to co-pay for your visit not depending on actual amount of charge almost every time you go (so far I didn't pay only once, and it was for the yearly check-up). PCP means standard physician, SPC specialty doctor (like gynecologist, dermatologist,etc.). Figure out what type of your insurance you have and what it covers by reading the papers arrived with your card or by calling on one of the information numbers provided on the back side of your card.
      If you have problems with understanding the full picture and just need to go to a particular doctor, don't worry! At medical offices your insurance plan is checked every time and you will be told if you are not covered. For first visits it can be a good advice to ask if you need to pay anything. But always remember, that we are all humans and humans can make mistakes. Sometimes, even when you are sure you shouldn't pay anything, you may hear an astronomical scary price to pay, double ask, make sure, maybe it was a mistake. It happened with us once for a expensive dental surgery!

        Let's say you know your insurance and it's pretty good. Find the doctor you want to visit and call for making an appointment. Almost all doctors I visited so far should be booked 1-2 months in advance, especially if you need a convenient time schedule. For the first time arrive 30 min prior and be ready to do your paper work. So being a foreigner, you should translate all diseases, surgeries, allergies you had or have and fill them in. Also, as you are included in your husband's insurance, in case he has never been to that specific place you're going, be ready to answer information regarding him: his occupation, his employee, address of employee, working phone. I was caught off guard regarding address with exact building number, zip code and exact position title, which was kind of suspicious as I am the wife. No matter which doctor you are going, you will first meet a nurse, who will minimum ask you the purpose of your visit, and maximum check your weight, height and measure your pressure. Then you will be left alone in the checking room for a while waiting for the doctor who should be briefed by the nurse about you. Anyway, the doctor will ask you everything all over again. Sometimes, you will meet with a doctor, he/she will leave and then after some more alone time again in the empty room, you will finally meet the doctor you have an appointment with. So be patient and tell your story for the 3rd time. 

      When you plan your visit, consider that a standard visit (no specific tests) will take you minimum one hour including the waiting, the nurse, the doctor, and additional advises. If you get tested, let's say blood test or some other exam, be aware that you probably won't receive the results unless you specifically ask. Bu default, your results are sent to your Physician and if something concerns him/her you will get a call for an appointment, otherwise you will not get any information. If you need any medication, I advise you to choose a Pharmacy close to your home or work, so your prescription can be send there. If you don't have a particular Pharmacy, your prescription will be send to the pharmacy near your doctor or in the facility where you took an appointment. As these are normally pretty busy places, and straight after an appointment all patients go there to get their medications, you will need to wait (once I waited for almost an hour). Then, you may need a refill of your medication when it's finished, so you already understand why it is more convenient to have your medication at a Pharmacy on your way. So check your Pharmacy's name and address prior to your visit (it will save you time and headaches in case of poor internet coverage with your smartphone).
      I wish you all to be in good health and not to need to use my post today for any urgent matter, but always remember: in case of emergency dial 911.