Jun 23 2010
I haven’t yet posted why my original 3-4 week Arizona vacation turned into a 6 week plus adventure.
There’s some backstory here that needs ‘splaining. First of all, let’s get the planned itinerary out of the way. I left on Mar 28th and arrived on Mar 29th. On Mar 25th, I got notice from my insurance (Tricare Prime) that I needed to find a new primary care doctor by April 1. The letter was dated several weeks earlier.
This pissed me off because on March 22, I’d seen my primary care doc and got a bunch of blood tests done pertaining to a chronic problem. Had I known I was about to be “dumped” from treatment at the MTF (which I’d been coerced into 4 years before) I would not have bothered.
Anyway… with little more than five days notice, I have to find another primary care physician. First, I contact the physician my husband has used for years. That’s a no go. Then I find the largest group practicing near my home and affiliated with the hospital nearest my home. I contact them and am told that each physician decides whether to accept new patients and their insurance. After a few denials from specific physicians in that group, I’m finally informed that none of the 13 will take me on.
By this time, I’m in Arizona. So, I search again and this time find a physician who will take me. I fill out the paperwork and am informed by Tricare that if the paperwork is received before the 2oth of April, the assignment to the new PCP will be valid on May 1.
That’s wonderful and I make an appointment with the new doc for May 6. I plan to be home on April 28th… exactly a month after I left. Except for the perhaps wasteful blood tests, everything is good.
Except… on April 25th, I am running a fever and have stomach pain. Monday, April 26th, the pain is worse, the fever a bit higher. Since I don’t think I have a primary care physician to call for a referral to an urgent care clinic, I call Tricare directly. I am informed that since April 17th when I submitted my request (that I was told would be effective May 1) I do have a PCP and that I must get any referrals from her.
Unfortunately, she hasn’t seen me before and ethically can’t make any referrals. (This is another topic…) and therefore I can’t get a referral from anyone. I am advised that since this is the case I should go to the ER since that doesn’t require a referral. However, it’s been pounded into me that using the ER for routine care is a bad, bad, wasteful thing and that Tricare might not cover it. Since I don’t think my problem is an emergency, I’m not that thrilled with that advice. But I’m also worried that I won’t feel like driving 1200 miles unless I get feeling better.
So I go to the nearest ER which is less than a mile from my daughter’s house. Why I should have chosen an ER much further away may be the subject of another post. Let’s just say that the close hospital didn’t have a great reputation. But… I was only going to probably get a prescription for an antibiotic and a suggestion I follow up with my PCP when I get home, right?