Friday, October 08, 2010

All for a pair of socks

You know the insurance companies have finally gone too far when . . .

I have had two surgeries in the past 10 years to remove varicose veins (I wouldn't say the pictures are "gross," or that you're in need of parental supervision to view them, but they do show the extensive bruising on my legs post-surgery, so they're not exactly "pretty" either).  I'm only 31, but both surgeons told me that wearing compression socks will help prevent more varicose veins in the future.  Therefore:  I do not care if it's nerdy, I wear my compression socks nearly every day.

If you were brave enough to look at the photos, I'm sure you're nodding your head in agreement right about now that you'd do the same.  Taking out the veins was awful!

In defense of the socks, however, I do feel it is valid to point out that the "nerdiness" factor has almost disappeared in the last few years, most especially for women.  Compression socks look like the pantyhose or dress socks that you'd wear with slacks.

Anyhoo.  The most recent surgery was in January 2009, close to 2 years ago.  After the surgery, the doctor had to write me a prescription to get compression socks.

That's right, I had to take a prescription into the medical supply store in order to purchase a pair of socks.  I thought it was ridiculous, especially when I had to pay $50 for them and my insurance didn't cover any of it, but I decided there was no point in complaining if it's The Way of the World.  I made a conscious effort to go with the flow.  I had 2 other pairs of inferior compression socks (stretched slightly from their many washings, but still offering at least some support) so I felt no need to spend another $50 on a backup pair.

Until, darn it all, about 2 months ago I finally popped a hole in my good pair.  My older, backup pair also gave up the ghost, right around the same time.  And herein lies the point of my whole story:

Prescriptions are only good for a year.  Even if I'd managed to keep track of my original prescription (I hadn't), it would have been worthless.  I knew this, but I wanted another friggin' pair of socks.

Hello, rigor morale!

I figured I'd start with the surgeon.  I called his office and asked to have a new prescription mailed to me.  Apparently I'm the only patient in the entire vascular surgeon's practice that wears compression socks and has asked for a new prescription, because the gal that answered the phone was so confused she didn't even know where to start.

Really?  I'm the only one?  Not one single patient in the entire practice has ever asked for a prescription?

Finally she went to my chart and when she came back on the line, she explained to me (in tones that indicated she thought I was the idiot in this situation)(I won't disagree; who else but me would try to get their ducks in a row beforehand?) she explained to me that the doctor had written down that I needed "surgical stockings" and there is no prescription required for those.

I can just go to any drug store and pick them up.

Sigh.  Yes, he told me to get surgical stockings when my legs were still swollen and sensitive from the surgery and I couldn't even put on the compression socks.  You know, because I'd just had surgery.  Hence the name surgical stockings.  But, now I've recovered from the surgery, and now I want compression socks.

Silence on the other end of the line.

"Well, he didn't put the prescription in your chart."  What kind of bogus doctor's office is this?  I said, "Well, can he just write me a new one and then can that be mailed to me?"  Was that not my original question?

Apparently it only just started to sink in because she finally told me, some 10 minutes into the conversation, that the doctor was not in the office and they didn't know if he would be coming back at all.  WHAT?!

Skip to the end of a very frustrating call:  the receptionist recommended that I go back to the store where I purchased the compression socks and have them fax the prescription, and they (the doctor's office) would take care of it from there.  I failed to see how this really solved my problem, as with the doctor out of the office and no one covering for him, wouldn't I just end up in the store, standing by the fax machine and holding a pair of socks that no one will let me buy, while we all wait for the doctor's signature to magically get faxed back?  And since he wasn't in the office and may not be returning, as she so cryptically repeated over and over, is it that far of a stretch to think that I'd be standing by that fax machine for a really long time?

I asked the receptionist if it would matter that he wasn't in the office.


She repeated--verbatim--what she had just told me.  She said I should go back to the store where I purchased the compression socks and have them fax the prescription, and they (the doctor's office) would take care of it from there.

Now I was silent.  Was she kidding?  I explained that I understood that, but since the doctor wasn't in would they be able to send anything back without his approval.

She started getting testy.  She said I should go back to the store where I purchased the compression socks and have them fax the prescription, and they (the doctor's office) would take care of it from there.

I started speaking very slowly and reworded my question again.  If there's no physician in the office, am I going to be standing at the store and not able to purchase my socks?

I'm sure you're smarter than I and can guess what her reply was.  You got it!  Exactly the same thing.  I gave up and decided to go to the darn store and see what happened. I think my blood pressure rose 30 points during the course of that phone call.

All for a pair of socks.

All because insurance companies have too much clout and no one is willing to defy them.  WHO CARES?!  I wanted to scream.  They're socks.  For crying out loud, do they think I'm going to be selling them on the street?

Turns out the store did have record of my original purchase (but no prescription on file, I knew it!) and if they aren't billing any insurance then I can buy the socks without a prescription in hand.  The store still contacts the vascular surgeon's office to request a current prescription, but they didn't make me wait . . . I just bought the socks and left.

I'm sure the doctor's office took care of everything promptly.

1 comment:

Pat Tillett said...

That's just crazy! I don't get why you need a prescription for them anyway! Just another example of how stupid earthlings are...

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