Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Lisa, Line One"

It's always bad news. "Lisa, line one," means I'm in trouble. I'm about to get yelled at. I got a bill from the lab. You used the wrong code. My drugs aren't covered. My insurance sucks. Fix it. Fix it. Fix it. 
But today I picked up and I could hear the patient smiling. Hi Lisa! She wanted to tell me all about her new insurance plan. One of the Medicare Advantage plans. Zero premium. Zero copay. Good drug coverage. I kept waiting for the complaint, but it never came. I thought about how we've helped this lady over the years, spending hours hunting down deals on procedures and meds, just to get her through to the next month, weaving her though the health care maze and how hard it must have been for her to ask for help. On my way out tonight I ran into some more patients, an older couple handing over their new 2012 cards for us to scan. They were happy, too. Less expensive. More coverage. Smiling as they spoke about insurance. Unheard of for the past decade. Little by little, we're seeing some changes this year. I got a free Mammogram instead of dipping into my massive deductible. Seniors saved an average of $500 this year on medication costs. Patients got physicals without a copay. This week the Department of Health and Human Services ruled that insurance companies need to spend 80% of the premiums they bring in on actual patient care. Not on marketing. Not on lobbyists. Not on some twenty-year-old in Bangalore denying an MRI while playing Angry Birds. Actual patient care. Imagine that.

I may start answering the phone more often.

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