How to Get a Same-Day Doctor Appointment: Call 4 Doctor’s Offices

Last week, I was sick with a sinus infection and congestion.  You know, it’s that really icky, mucky mucous in your sinuses of the most ugly sort.  I had the pasty eyes, sore throat, plugged ears, and awful sinus mucous.  Not to mention, it just leaves you feeling drained, achy, tired, and miserable.  I managed with it for five days until calling for a doctor’s appointment to get some antibiotics to treat it.

Now, I have a regular doctor who is my primary care physician.  My pcp is a great physician, however the issue with him is that his office does not have a direct phone number, and all calls go through this type of routing system.  (I’ve also been double-billed on my most recent two appointments, necessitating calls to get that corrected!) The folks who answer the calls in this system are completely unhelpful, and it just becomes a waste of time to even call with a simple question, not to mention trying to schedule an appointment or get a call back.  I called my pcp’s phone number, asked to speak with a nurse in his office, and was refused, with an operator identifying their “protocol,” which I already know is not to transfer any calls to his office.  So, I called my “alternate” doctor.

I contact my “alternate” doctor when my pcp is unavailable and/or unaccessible, for whatever reason.  (I can’t just drive 45 minutes to my pcp’s office for the thrill of it and without an appointment unless I’m in the area of his office for other business reasons; he does not take walk-ins and does not “fit” you in to his schedule.)  So, on calling my alternate doctor’s office, he was booked for the day and they were also unable to “fit” me in to his schedule.  By the way, this alternate doctor is located about 1 hour away from me – even further away than my pcp.

Still feeling miserable and wanting an appointment for the same day, I decided to search for other physicians in my area.  Searching online, I located an office of physicians at my local hospital in Snellville.  On calling, I was placed on hold for 10 minutes, only later to be told that I could not be seen that day because one entire day was needed for the “system to upload my information.”  Really?  I let the receptionist know I would keep looking.

On continuing my online search, I located another office in my area.  Low and behold, it was a family practice that accepted walk-in patients!  And, it was two minutes from my house!  Was this too good to be true?  I decided to find out.

I called this doctor’s office – my fourth call in my quest for scheduling a doctor’s appointment to treat my sinus infection – and I spoke with  a receptionist who said it was a good time to come by right then!  Wow, I jumped at that opportunity.  I went to the facility, completed a few papers, waited for about 1 hour, and was seen as a new, walk-in patient!  I also come out with the prescription I needed to treat my illness, and went to my pharmacy, getting it filled that day, as well.

In all, the time I spent at that doctor’s office as well as getting my prescription filled took about 2 hours.  I had a great experience there, and will definitely be going back when my other doctors’ offices continue to have obstacles in scheduling me to be seen for treatment!

Poorest People Still Left Behind in American Healthcare Coverage, Including Medicaid (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

I am a person who is an advocate for universal healthcare coverage in the United States.  When President Barack Obama persistently pushed for the achievement of universal healthcare in the United States, I was definitely a supporter.  I think it is wonderful that people who so desperately need healthcare coverage in the United States are now able to receive it, in many areas of the country.

I, however, still do not have healthcare coverage.  Why?  My income falls below the federal government’s poverty level guidelines for who is eligible to receive universal healthcare.  And, my state, Georgia, has not expanded Medicaid for individuals and/or families who would otherwise be eligible to receive Medicaid due to income guidelines.

So, while there is universal healthcare coverage that is available in the United States, it is not available to me.  I have not had healthcare insurance coverage for about 4.5 years since becoming divorced.  Prior to that, I had healthcare coverage either through my employer and/or my spouse.  In 2009, I was employed with a company that guaranteed healthcare insurance coverage after working for several months; I was laid off before that time came.

For the past 4.5 years, I have paid out-of-pocket for all of my medical and healthcare-related expenses.  I have paid out-of-pocket for visits to my regular doctor, gynecologist, dentist, and optometrist.  I have also paid out-of-pocket for all of my prescriptions, laboratory work, and all other healthcare-related services and appointments.

Last year, after going five years without having an eye exam, I finally had one and got new glasses, with monies withdrawn from my retirement account.  This year, I have noticed further changes in my eyesight, but cannot afford to get my eyes checked, or get new glasses again, with having to pay out-of-pocket.

Typically, my gynecologist and dentist appointments cost me much more than any of my regular doctor appointments.  It has been several years since I went to my OBGYN, and my last mammogram was about five years ago.

Thankfully, most medical practitioners provide some sort of discount for people who pay out-of-pocket.  Such a discount is helpful, though there is a wide range in discount percentages, usually 5%-20%, as I’ve experienced.

When I lived in New York State, from the time I graduated from the University at Buffalo (December 1992), and was removed from my parents’ coverage, until I became employed full-time as a teacher in Georgia (August 2000), I did not have healthcare coverage.  Either my employers did not offer healthcare coverage, or they required at least one’s year’s employment with them before they provided it.  In the places in which I worked part-time, and/or left employment to obtain other employment within one year (typically, for a higher salary and the opportunity for better benefits), I did not have healthcare coverage.

To date, that makes a total of 12.5 years of my life that I have not had healthcare coverage.  After reading a newspaper article related to a lack of healthcare coverage in Georgia for individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid, I realized that I am not alone.  Misty Williams wrote “Ga.’s Medicaid call affects thousands,” being published in the April 6, 2014 issue of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

In her article, Williams stated, “Statewide, more than 400,000 of Georgia’s poorest, most vulnerable citizens have been left behind by the health care law that was supposed to benefit them the most.”  Because Georgia has not expanded Medicaid (and has, therefore, caused me to be ineligible for coverage, unless I am pregnant), all of these people are still without healthcare coverage.

Throughout the United States, there are 5.7 million people without healthcare coverage – because their states have not expanded Medicaid.  All of the seven states in the Deep South are included in the 24 (nearly half of the US!) states that have not expanded Medicaid.  A WhiteHouse.gov website put’s Georgia’s number of people without coverage at 478,000 – ranked third behind only Texas and Florida – for all those without healthcare coverage due to Medicaid not being expanded to cover them.

If I was younger and perhaps had more faith that an issue such as this would change, I would likely be highly upset about it.  But, now that I am older and somewhat wiser, it really comes as no surprise to me, and is actually a disappointment that people such as myself, who are in the greatest need of healthcare coverage, still do not have it – because they are too poor!

When I am driving on the road, I hope and pray that I am not involved in a serious vehicle collision that causes me bodily harm.  I hope and pray, and do my best to stay healthy, so that I do not acquire a serious illness or disease.  I am cautious and careful about what I eat and who I date, as well as about cleanliness and personal hygiene.

I try to stay as healthy and as well as possible in order to avoid being hospitalized for some situation or condition that could cause bankruptcy.  Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, situations cannot be avoided, and so, I continue to be aware, healthy, and do the best I can.  What I would really like is gainful, stable, and enjoyable full-time employment so that I can obtain and maintain healthcare coverage.

Lawmakers in Georgia – and in other states that have not expanded Medicaid – have truly let down those people such as myself who are so poor that they do not qualify for universal healthcare coverage, including Medicaid.  I thought that the idea behind establishing universal healthcare coverage was so that it would be universal.  Unfortunately, in states such as Georgia, I have seen that it is really not universal.

The Affordable Care Act has, therefore, made absolutely no positive difference in my life to date – because my state has not expanded Medicaid and I am too poor to be eligible to receive Medicaid.  I continue to pay out-of-pocket and do not have any healthcare coverage.  When the poorest of the poor are overlooked and ineligible for even the most minimal healthcare coverage that is supposed to be provided to those who are poor – Medicaid – there is definitely something very wrong with this situation. 😦

References:

24 states are refusing to expand Medicaid (April 3, 2014). Here’s what that means for their residents. WhiteHouse.gov.  Washington, DC: The White House. Retrieved on April 18, 2014 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/medicaid-map?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=110613p1&utm_campaign=healthcare

Is my state expanding Medicaid coverage? (2014).  Healthcare.gov.  Baltimore, MD: U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Retrieved on April 18, 2014 from https://www.healthcare.gov/what-if-my-state-is-not-expanding-medicaid/

Williams, Misty (April 6, 2014).  Ga.’s Medicaid call affects thousands.  Atlanta, Georgia: The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Vol. 66, No. 96.