When Having Insurance Isn’t Reassuring
Last updated: June 2023
In a perfect world, those of us with RA would never have to worry about insurance issues. Our copays would be so low that we would never have to worry about not being able to afford our appointments, procedures, and medication, our insurance would cover any and all treatments, so we wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for drugs that aren’t covered or alternative therapies like acupuncture. But it’s not a perfect world, is it?
Coping with insurance issues
Hands down, one of the hardest parts of moving has been getting new insurance and having to establish care with new doctors.
The insurance I had before, was through school, but was given to me because I taught undergraduates. I was a student, but it wasn’t exactly student insurance. It was better. It was great, actually. My copays were manageable. The financial side of it was great. The thing that was not so great about it, though, was that while I could pick my primary care doctor from the doctors at the student health center, I couldn’t pick my specialists.
Selection process for doctors
I would literally get a call after the referral was processed, telling me who my doctor was and when my appointment would be (and the appointment wouldn’t necessarily be soon). Obviously, behind the scenes, what was supposed to happen is that the head of the department would study the case and then assign a doctor to the patient. I don’t really know if that’s how a specific doctor was picked, but that’s how it was supposed to work.
With my new insurance, I actually have to pay a flat fee for the insurance that is through my school, (I didn’t have to pay anything for my insurance before), the appointment copays are about the same, and the medication copays are commensurate with what my other insurance’s copays were going to be this year, but I will actually have out-of-pocket costs in addition to copays.
On the plus side, though, I do get to pick my doctors. Obviously, reading an online description of a doctor doesn’t necessary mean we will gel in person. But it definitely feels good to have made a choice that feels at least a bit more than random. For me, it is important that I see someone who is familiar with both lupus and RA, so that’s the main thing I am looking for in terms of a rheumatologist.
I also still have yet to figure out if all of my medications will be covered, and there are some medication issues that I need to deal with.
The truly amazing thing, though, through all of this, is that my old insurance ended August 31, and my new insurance began September 1.
Impact of insurance issues on quality of care
Thankfully I had no lapse in coverage, but now I find myself back at the beginning. I had to go to the student health center and get referrals to specialists. And now I am in a holding pattern. I have picked my internist and rheumatologist. I am not as picky about my gastroenterologist, nephrologist, and hepatologist, and I would rather get recommendations for those from either the pcp or the rheum before I make decisions myself.
I know how lucky I was to have my previous insurance, and how many people are not as lucky. So I realize what I am going through now is something that many people struggle with.
Have you had insurance issues? How did you deal with them? Do you think that your insurance issues prohibited you from getting the best quality of care possible?
Have you struggled to afford your RA medications?