My chemotherapy treatment has been approved! I begin Monday at 12:30pm.
So what happened? Well, on November 17 at 1:22pm the cancer center submitted the status of prior authorization to my insurance. That was less than forty-eight hours before my treatment was supposed to begin, and apparently that wasn’t enough time. The reason my insurance didn’t have a record of the authorization request was because they’d sent it off for physician review, which is done by a third party. Why that transmission wasn’t noted in the account is beyond me. It seems like that should be an automated process, or a box on some checklist. Jim, who had a previous life in health benefits management, explained that many systems are convoluted because companies grow by acquisition and the systems don’t always play nicely with each other. Some are antiquated; some are new; some are in between.
It’s all wrong.
As a friend who underwent a major health scare last year said: “…this is no way to run a healthcare system. If I’m having this much trouble as a smart and cognizant adult, how are people who are actually *sick* dealing with it?”
Health care is intimidating. I usually have no problem being the squeaky wheel, but when I didn’t hear for weeks whether I’d need an axillary node dissection, I waited instead of calling. Other people have worse cancers than I do, I thought. They’re probably taking care of them.
Now I know. Don’t wait. Call. “Self-advocate,” as multiple friends have said. It’s a healthcare mantra: self-advocate, self-advocate, self-advocate.
I am learning firsthand how inept, inefficient, and dangerous our healthcare system is.
I am also learning how kind the people who work in our healthcare system are. The ones I’ve interacted with care. They really, truly care. I’ve talked to my nurse navigator for at least a couple of hours over the last two weeks. When I called today to tell her my treatment was approved, she was so happy Jim could hear her from across the room. I know on Monday I’ll be in good hands.
The upside to this – and there is always an upside – is that I get four bonus days. I’m going to cook all the food and clean all the rooms and write all the words. I’m going to hug my husband so many times he’s going to have to request a time-out so he can actually get things done, too. I finally feel healthy after my last surgery and have received approval to resume working out, so I’ll revel in my currently strong body. I’ve got ninety-six hours. Ninety-six beautiful, bonus hours.
The other upside is that I can write about my experience and possibly help someone else navigate this nightmare of a system, and hopefully see that the system is an issue; the people in the system are a blessing.
And they truly are. I’m looking forward to Monday, not because I’m thrilled to be starting chemo (nuh-unh), but because I’m looking forward to meeting J. I’m only sad that I won’t be able to hug her.
Time to go. I’ve got ninety-six hours, and I’m going to make the most of every minute.