Changing Rheumatologists When You Have RA
Changing rheumatologists is difficult and a challenge that I had not realized until recently when I was trying to make a change in rheumatologists.
Changing rheumatologist had its challenges
I live somewhat close to the University of Alabama—Birmingham (UAB), which has some of the best rheumatologists and clinics in the United States. And something that particularly drew me was the fact that UAB participated in clinical trials for new medicines and other experiments involving the development of rheumatoid arthritis as a condition.
In spite of these benefits, changing rheumatologists has not been without its challenges — from getting enrolled in a new office to verifying my insurance will cover the new rheumatologist to actually traveling to Birmingham (which is about 5 hours away).
Regardless, I think the benefits of moving rheumatology clinics outweigh the struggles and conflicts that have come with changing. For today’s article, I wanted to write a little bit about my experience here.
Paperwork and medical record requests
The first thing I had to do to get transferred over to UAB was to submit a bunch of paperwork over to the office. This included usual and normal paperwork, but also included getting medical records requests from my old rheumatologist to my new rheumatologist.
The COVID-19 pandemic made this a little bit more difficult because I don’t have access to a fax machine and did not want to unnecessarily expose myself by having to go to a public library or to a friend’s house who had a fax machine. Thankfully, my rheumatologist was able to handle faxing over everything my new clinic needed, which made the process easier.
Is my new rheumatoligt and clinic in-network?
Next up in the list of challenges: calling my insurance company. This was perhaps the most difficult step in transitioning clinics. Not only did I have to make sure (re: verify) that my new rheumatologist was accepted by and in-network with my insurance, I also had to verify that the clinic itself was accepted and in-network.
This included matching provider numbers to ensure that labs, x-rays, and other tests that were performed on-site were included and in-network. This took multiple phone calls that spanned over multiple days and, by the time I had finalized everything, I felt like I had earned my honorary J.D. in Insurance Law.
Managing RA is a fulltime job
All of these challenges and steps reify a key point that many community members have brought up on RheumatoidArthritis.net: having a chronic illness — and taking care of said chronic illness — is a full-time job that often requires taking over other people’s jobs (mostly errant insurance agents). And when you have chronic fatigue and other comorbidities and symptoms that come with RA, it’s extremely draining to have to take on another role (and job) to manage your condition.
I try not to complain too much, but this situation recently really got to me because I realized I would always be with my condition and that it will impact everything that I do from here on out.
Have you changed rheumatologists or moved to a new rheumatology clinic? Let me know what your experience has been below!
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