Thursday, March 11, 2010
Yesterday, after I finished my blog posting, I called my HMO dental office in Dover to arrange an appointment to fix my front tooth that is now missing a filling.
I suspected this would not be an easy request. I was right. It wasn’t easy. First thing the woman in the dental office says to me is how busy they are in the office and then tells me to hold. Now I’m on hold…..for a long time.
She comes back on the phone and I explain to her that a filling fell out of my front tooth and when is the earliest I could see a dentist. She asks me which doctor I use. I don’t remember. It’s a HMO office. She checks and then reads off a list of names. I recognize the name “Patel” and tell her “That’s the one.” She tells me to hold again. Now I’m on hold……again…..for a long time.
She comes back on the phone. She tells me the earliest that Dr. Patel can see me is April 5th. Almost a month away! So I’m going to go snaggle toothed (which is NOT a good look for a front desk clerk at an upscale boutique hotel) for the next month.
I’m a reasonable person and I try to understand these things so I agree. However, once off the phone I’m thinking. “Why can’t I use another doctor in this HMO office?” After all, with an HMO I don’t have a choice of doctors.
I call back. I get the same woman. I ask her if I could have another doctor. She cuts me off with a curt “That’s the earliest Dr. Patel can see you!” By her tone of voice I can tell there is no margin for any other option. I have no choice. Socialized medicine. The end of the world. Bye, bye.
I make inquiries about using another dentist. A Rehoboth dentist comes to mind. He has been recommended to me several times. However, if I use him it would be an out of pocket expense for me because he doesn’t accept insurance. I decide to go for it.
I make the call. A woman named Diane answers the phone. Unlike my previous phone call, she doesn’t tell me how busy they are in their office that morning. She takes the time to listen to me. I don’t feel rushed. I explain my situation and asked when is the earliest I can make an appointment to fix my tooth. She checks the doctor’s schedule and asked me if I could come in Monday. Well, now this is more like it. I made the appointment.
I’m one of the believers that I think health care in this country needs a drastic overhaul. But, I can understand those who are concerned about “socialized” medicine. I’m fortunate in that I could a doctor of my choice when my HMO assigned doctor wasn’t available on a timely basis for me. What would have happened if I had broken my tooth and I was in pain? Wait a month until it was convenient for the doctor’s schedule?