Sunday, July 5, 2009

Invasive Exams

I thought doctors were the only ones allowed to perform invasive exams on the rest of us. Okay, sure… doctors and the IRS. And aliens… but that’s it!

I recently learned these procedures can also be performed by insurance companies. Not only can an insurance company perform the exam, but they can do it remotely, from their offices, without having to actually see the patient. Medical history, finances, genetic profile, private ruminations—nothing is off limits or out of reach of their probing.

I believe it all started with Outpatient Surgery. When it was learned that patients could tolerate fairly significant “procedures” and be sent home immediately afterward, the insurance companies knew they were on to something—especially since some of the patients were surviving. There followed an almost immediate, system-wide policy change that called for mother and newborn to be sent home before the first diaper change.

Today, patients should not be surprised at being placed in the driver’s seat of their vehicle and handed their keys, as the anesthetically induced coma is just beginning to wear off. Never mind that in your drug-addled mind, you think you’ve just been place inside a giant pocket watch, and you’re pretty sure you’re upside down. You’re no longer the responsibility of the hospital—the insurance company says so.

If you, the patient, object to this revolving-door surgical process, the insurance people will answer with the industry’s equivalent to the phrase, “Buck Up.” What was formerly known as pain has now been re-termed discomfort, and you can recuperate from the discomfort of a double hip replacement in your own bed.

As the industry has evolved, there have been consultations with experts in business efficiency, Ponzi schemes, organized crime, and tactics in ethical circumnavigation. As a result of these discussions, a number of new processes have been devised to make the insurance business even more efficient (read lucrative).

First, there’s the Preferred Provider, which is code for a doctor who received their medical training in a thatch hut, and will work for food and a place with indoor plumbing. You may have been going to the same doctor for 26 years, but if you change insurance companies and he’s not on their preferred provider list, seeing him is going to cost you—bigtime!

There’s also the requirement that you call your insurer for pre-authorization before visits to the real doctors (the ones who might actually be able to help you) or the emergency room. You won’t forget to call while you’re attempting to maintain enough pressure to stop the bleeding, will you?

While consulting their actuary tables, Ouija boards, Satan, and a medium that can channel the spirit of Joseph Stalin, the insurance companies have devised countless ways of tacking on charges, denying payment, or flat out canceling your insurance because you’ve become a burden to them by being so bold as to file a claim against your policy.

And beware if you decide that it’s time to take a stand and challenge these schemes to provide riches to the unnamed co-conspirators, the holders of preferred stock—they’re already watching you. One wrong step and you’ll receive notification of cancellation of your policy due to the pre-existing condition that was discovered during your recent (Surprise!) invasive exam.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails