My Favorite Primary Care Physician

I only get to see this guy when my assigned PCP is overwhelmed at the MTF (Military Treatment Facility) to which, as a Tricare Prime patient, I am enrolled.

I want to make it clear that any of the following which might seem derogatory toward military health care is derogatory only toward SYSTEMS. The people involved are wonderful and trying their very best to be the best medical providers. What I criticize are the rules/regulations/etc.,  and the hoops they and their patients must jump through.

This guy is good for me. He’s emotionally and professionallly honest with me. He calls me on my bullshit, but doesn’t make me feel like a moron. This is probably personality more than medical training — but we are able to communicate with each other.

This ability is priceless. MasterCard, Universal Health Care, Electronic Medical Records and all the other technological advances in medical care cannot replace the physician/patient relationship.

My MTF assigned PCP has this ability too, but she’s restricted in her ability to follow-up and follow-through with her patients. It’s just too damned hard to get an appointment with her and she has as little input into the availability of appointments as I do. This is a system failure, not a physician failure.

I got lucky. Through conversations with the non-MTF appointment person and billing agent, I learned which hoops I needed to jump through within the MTF referral process. Oh yeah, the MTF appointment clerk I worked with after learning the right words — ie, words she could “respond to” without repercussions led to EIGHT (that’s right, 8!) referral numbers, each with four authorized follow-ups. Folks, that translates to almost unlimited access to this non-MTF physician.

This freedom of medical treatment comes at a price. I must pay $12 bucks each time I see my new favorite PCP. (Please don’t tell Congress or the DOD that I consider that one fantastic deal.)

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Primary Care Physician

  1. Yes! Referral nonsense needs to stop and doctor/ patient relationships are what is most lacking in all this mess.

    If consumers had access to the doctors and specialties THEY wanted visits would better reflect the consumers needs and satisfactions… Damn, did that make any sense? It’s 6am give me a break okay?

    What I mean is that we could reward good doctors with more business and referrals if we had some kind of control over who we could see for what. It is just the tip of the iceberg really.

    Don’t get me started on how much we pay for insurance and how little it covers!

  2. I’m slowly learning that, within limits, I do have some control over where I’m referred. For example, I have found that I can get most referrals changed to a different provider.

    One referral a couple of years ago was to a neurosurgeon. At the time, I thought my only option was surgery, and I was referred to a man in his late 60s, almost deaf, and wearing trifocals. I don’t know if he was unwilling to answer my questions or simply couldn’t hear them.

    There was no problem getting a referral to another neurosurgeon who answered all my questions and told me radiation alone was a viable option, where and who he’d get it from if he were in my position, etc. If I ever do end up having to have the surgery, guess who I’m going to request (nay, demand!) a referral to?

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