2017, 24 January I flew to Mexico. Just a few days prior to this I had a scratchy throat. I thought perhaps it was from a few get togethers with friends where I laughed, and talked, a lot.
By 27 January I was miserable, cold/flu symptoms, difficulty breathing, tightness in chest, congestion, coughing. I felt awful so I went to a doctor. He told me I had an infection in my lungs; bronchitis or pneumonia I guess. He prescribed an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and an expectorant.
I got a little better, but I was sick and miserable the whole time I was away.
On 2 February I flew back to Richmond. BIG mistake. 3 February I stayed in bed all day. Everything had resurfaced, and it also moved into my ears.
4 February, a Saturday, I knew I needed to see a doctor. I knew I couldn’t get in for several days if I called my regular doctor, so thought ER was my only option.
But No, here in Richmond there is a franchise called Patient First. You use them for non-emergency stuff. This is from their webpage – Providing non-appointment, physician-directed urgent care to: Midlothian, Chesterfield County, Robious, Hylton Park, Ramsgate, Old Gun, Tinsleys, Forest Hill, Bon Air, Salisbury, Staffordshire, and Powhatan County.
I contacted my Health Insurance to see if I was covered…If the physician (Scxxx Grxxxxxxxx) was in my Plan. He was, which meant a $40USD co-pay.
So Tom drove me, we waited, maybe 45 minutes after I filled out the reams of paperwork, and let them run my credit card, which you must do else leave. I was told they would only bill what my insurance didn’t pay. I did not understand then what that would mean.. Then I was taken in to a large space with lots of workstations in the center, and a ring of small exam rooms around the perimeter.
I was shown to a room and an intake person came in and asked about my symptoms, and took my height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, etc. Then another person came in and started doing things, no conversation or explanations; just throat swab, nose swab, breath test, then I was told they had to do an xray to be sure my lungs were clear. Now mind you I am sick, not feeling well at all, and not in a good place to be thinking clearly about what is going on. Oh, and all this is without having yet seen a doctor, or being advised of separate charges for each of these pokes and prods.
So all these things are done, and I am back in the exam room. I don’t know for how long because I fell asleep. So the doctor comes in, a brief greeting and starts reading off a computer monitor and advises me I do not have strep, Influenza A, or B, and that my lungs are clear. He then asks me about my symptoms and how I feel. He listens to my heart and lungs. He proclaims I have bronchitis and prescribes something to fight bacterial infection,
So on my way out I asked for a printout of the bill, a receipt.
I was devastated to see this –
- 46usd, strep test
- 41usd Influenza A test
- 41usd Influenza B test
- 113usd xray Chest, PA, Lat
- 45usd peak flow measure
- 213usd office visit
- 66usd extended hours charge
- 565usd and here I thought I was seeing a doctor for a 40usd copay.
I received notification several weeks later from my insurance company that they would not cover 257.97usd. then right quickly I received from Patient First that they had billed the balance to my credit card. And they did do exactly that.
So my warning, do not use Patient First, because you definitely do not come first. Not a single aide, nurse, or doctor actually introduced themselves. And not a single person explained what they were doing, that it would incur an additional cost, or that I had any choice or say so in the matter.
By the way, this treatment plan, 10days, did not resolve the issue. I ended up seeing the PA at my doctor’s office and went on a prednisone treatment that did eventually resolve the infection in my chest.
So there you have my rant about PatientFirst. Perhaps had I not been sick and so debilitated I’d have had my senses about me and dealt with the treatment differently. I was sick, and therefore feel the ‘medical professionals’ bear some responsibility for not understanding the nature of these things and being more forthcoming and outright in their treatment.