15 September 2015

Intro to Cholecystectomy, Vol. II: Dealing with Bureaucracy

See, after I stayed in the hospital for 3 days, I immediately went to my GP. After all, he needed to know what happened, so that I can get the situation remedied. So the following work day, I went to his clinic without an appointment, and luckily, I just showed up, and he immediately saw me.

I gave him the letter the hospital gave me when I was released, detailing their diagnosis and the recommended cholecystectomy. Since I wasn't in emergency pain, the gallbladder removal could wait. Therefore, the hospital that I was taken into didn't do it. I had to do it through proper channels.

My GP gave me two official documents. I received a red prescription, which I simply showed at a random drugstore, and I automatically got some medication as a result. It was an official document saying that my GP thinks it is essential for me to get that medicine, hence the insurance company will pay for it.

I also received a yellow referral letter, which I had to show to the hospital. My GP told me that I should make an appointment to the hospital, and then after that, I will come back to his office. I should have asked what appointment, but then, given that it was my first time to get an operation, I expected the worst.

So I called the hospital, and told the operator that I needed to get my gallbladder out, so I would like to set up an appointment. I was relayed to the proper office, and they offered me July 16. I thought that was the appointment for the operation, and since I had to be out of town the following weekend, I asked if there was an appointment available after that instead. So they gave me July 21. I didn't really ask more than that, I just put it in my calendar, expecting that I would be operated there. I knew that there are several steps to having an operation, and I thought that everything would simply start happening on that date.

I was wrong.

When I went to the hospital on that date, I was told that I only had an appointment with the surgeon to introduce myself. I took my referral letter and he read it, and then told me pretty much everything that I already knew, about the operation. He gave me some official looking documents, basically documents that I had to sign saying I consent to being operated on. And then there were bureaucratic issues that I had to take care of. In the meantime, I was given a schedule. On August 5, I had an appointment for the preparatory session, which included getting bloodwork done, getting an ultrasound or something, and having a chat with the anesthesiologist. On August 6 I was to call a number to schedule my surgery, and on August 7 I have my surgery.

Good, so now I have a schedule. But there were a couple of paperwork that I needed to take care of first. I had to get a red official-looking document from my GP telling the world that I really need to get my gallbladder out. I wondered what was the difference between this paper and the first paper I got from him. Well, apparently, the first paper was just a referral letter, without which the hospital wouldn't talk to me. Now that the hospital would talk to me, I needed the GP to tell the hospital that I need my gallbladder out.

Once I got that paper, I had to take that to the insurance company, and get a stamp saying that they would indeed pay for the procedure. Otherwise, the hospital wouldn't operate. So basically, on July 21, after leaving the hospital, frustrated because I already mentally prepared myself for the surgery that ended up not happening that day, I just ran back and forth from the hospital to my GP to the insurance company. And at the end of the day, I had all the relevant paperwork that would make it ready for me to be cut up.

2 comments:

  1. Have you ever thought how different the situation would have been if it had happened when you were living in Buffalo? Did you have medical insurance back then?

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    1. Zhu,

      Yes, that crossed my mind. As a student, I did have medical insurance, as every foreign student in the USA is required to have one. However, it was crappy compared to what I have right now in Germany. There was co-pay, and knowing what I know about the American health care system, these are expensive. Heck, once I just went on a consultation with a specialist in Buffalo General Hospital and I had to pay 50 USD!

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