Disputing Medical Bill

This is a sequel to my previous post, Diabetic Eye Exam.  In summary, I was billed for an eye test that was never done, under the disguise of a Refraction Test.  And now I’m trying to dispute said bill.

I heard tons of success stories on the net about disputing medical bills, however mine is not one of them.  It seems crystal clear that I was billed for a procedure never done, acuity test was done against my wishes and in violation of Informed Consent…  but that’s about it.  I’m stuck with paying the bill regardless.

I tried going the complaint route anyway and filed an Appeal with my insurance company.  Turned out this isn’t an appeal but a grievance, hence off it goes to the next department over.   Am still waiting to hear from  them

Next was an appeal with the doctor’s office within 30 days; am still waiting for the response which is pretty much to be expected.

State Medical Board was my next step, with the same net results so far.  I have neatly summarized everything into about 3/4 of a Word page and submitted by email.  Much to my surprise, my complaint was accepted.  What happens here, remains to be seen but likely not much.

I have ended up paying the bill as to avoid problems with the credit and to keep my 800 score.  It took the Billing full two weeks to deposit the check so I had to start an inquiry with the bank in the meantime.  All said and done, it goes without saying that I will not set my foot in this doctor’s office for the rest of my natural life.

All in all, I was given a test that I did not need nor want but was billed regardless while not a word about managing a current condition, a cataract that I was diagnosed with in this very office a year or two prior.  None, zero, zilch, nada.

I turned to the internet, and found out about three types of a cataract as well a plethora of information that the doctor didn’t utter a single word about.  Will cover this in the next post.

While I still have no clue about the extent of a damage, turned out that I can do a few ounces of prevention.  Found out I have to wear sunglasses in any weather, even when the skies are overcast.  And blue light blocking glasses when I am surfing the net.  This was the first time I ever heard about blue light blocking. Done, bought a pair on Amazon.  The lens have yellow tint to them so some colors are off but I can live with that.  These provide great protection being practically wraparound and the frame is flexible so I can wear them on top of the readers.  Will write more about blue light blocking later on.    Here they are, my Uvex Blue Light Blockers. Great price to boot, under $10.

1

 

This is a pair of sunreaders (a combination of sunglasses and readers) that I found on my last going to a local Dollar Tree.

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Here’s to hoping that all this will buy me more than “a couple of years” quoted.  Isn’t that something that I had to find all this on the Internet, Facebook, Amazon as well as a few other sites, and of course, the Dollar Tree.  But not from my eye doctor!  The latter is apparently too much surgery oriented, because this brings in the $$.

It goes without saying that I won’t set my foot in this doctor’s office for the rest of my natural life.  Will see someone else next year, and this time I will know better what is covered and what is not, what to ask about and what to watch for.

P.S.  I am the last person on earth to have learned that Diabetic Eye Exam is covered in full.  The same thing took place a year or two prior when I just paid what I thought was a Specialist Copay. Now I know better.  You live and learn.

On the other hand, had I just paid the $$ and moved on without doing anything else, I would have never learned what I know now.  Will cover this later on.  Stay tuned.

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Diabetic Eye Exam

This exam is all about testing the eye pressure, also known as a dilated eye exam.  A yellow potion is dropped into your eyes and the pressure is measured.  Then the eyes are rinsed and off you go on your merry way.  This is covered in full by Medicare.  So far so good.

I’ve been there, done that, came in for the Diabetic Eye Exam.  But first the doctor wants to do a Visual Acuity Test.  What in the world for?  The good doctor says, this is standard and yes, it is covered by your insurance.  Next I found myself looking at a chart from a distance, one eye at a time, and reading the letters.  My protests were ignored. C’mon now, I don’t need advices with the eyeglasses as I don’t wear them, and am buying my readers at the Dollar Tree. I told you all this the last time when I saw you a year or two ago, remember?  The doc ignored my pleas and handed a prescription for the eyeglasses anyway.  Tried refusing, to no avail.  He goes, just take it.

I am back in the chair, a yellow concoction goes into my eyes and the pressure is measured.  The verdict, no diabetes related problems.  How about my cataract, diagnosed on the previous visit?  I had to ask about that or else it won’t be addressed.  Doctor pretty much matter of factly states that I have a couple of years.  C’mon now.  A couple years before I go blind?  What’s the extent of a damage?  But no more comments and off I go home.

By the way, some doctors have a way of delivering the breaking news.  have a penchant for this as something strikingly similar happened when I was first diagnosed with diabetes.

Turned out my eyes were not rinsed enough and the driving proves a challenge.  So I pulled into the nearest parking lot, opened the trunk and retrieved a water spray bottle along with a spare box of Kleenex.  This helped although following the rinsing, the Kleenex came out all yellow.  This rinsing should have been done back at the doctor’s office, as far as I am concerned.  Oh well. Had to manage on my own.  It took a few hours for the yellow drops effect to completely wear off.

A week later – surprise, surprise – a bill for $50 comes my way.  Upon calling the Billing I am told this is for the Refraction Test.  But it wasn’t done?  My protests fall on deaf ears. Other than Acuity Test and Dilated Eye, none other tests were done. The Acuity Test by the way, is traditionally done at renewing the driver’s license.  And the real Refraction Test uses a computerized tool called Phoropter.  The latter was never done, and the former was called the wrong name as this brings in the $$.

This is how Phoropter looks like:

Phoropter

To be continued.  Stay tuned.

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I saw a hand surgeon today

10 Oct 1 PIC

First off, my hands are crooked, especially the right one, thanks to Rheumatoid Arthritis. So I secured a referral from my PCP doctor and went to see a Hand Surgeon today. I went in with the high hopes as I heard good things about this particular doctor, that he could do something close to a miracle.

Not so fast.

Xrays taken, I am being whisked to another room, am sitting tight and waiting.  An assistant peeks in and asks if I am in pain, and off on his merry way. He seems to be in a big hurry, didn’t take my vital signs or asked more questions that I thought was a given but not a problem.

In comes a lady wearing a white gown of sorts and asks how I am. I am like, I am here to see a doctor so-and-so, and who are you?  Then she confesses to being a resident, and proceeds asking questions.  Mind you, it’s one of the Health Centers of Cleveland Clinic, hence the red tape. I told her that I would much rather see a doctor sooner than later. Argh, this is exactly what I hate about big places with the big red tapes.

Finally the hand doctor comes in, takes a look at my hands and delivers the news. Not of a good variety. Basically he says that a surgery won’t help in that it’ll limit my range of motion.  This coupled with a fact that I am not in pain, played into him not recommending surgery.  End of story.

I was crushed. I was having high hopes and in a matter of minutes they were poof, gone. My whole world came crumbling down. Maybe he is right but I am at the receiving end. Oh well. I went home feeling pretty much hopeless and gloomy. Life however goes on, and so is the street traffic. I went out a different way than I went in, took chances with an unfamiliar exit from the parking lot and ended up going the right way after all.

On my way home stopped for a grocery shopping and splurged on a few things, which is something I usually don’t do. But now it didn’t matter. Nothing matters. My hands are doomed to be crooked for the rest of my life, so what’s the point in saving a few bucks?

Came home, googled a bit. Found out that the doctor was actually talking about a joint fusion. There is however an option of a joint replacement, but I likely won’t do it. Will sit tight and wait, maybe something else pops up. A new procedure, a new technology. C’mon now, this is the 21st century, after all.

There’s still a glimpse of a hope (I think).  Thanks for the ear, my dear readers.

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What happened to my morning fasting BG

Lately it’s been around 100, give or take. I however found out that the variations have to do with sleeping or not for the full 8 hours at night. Yesterday someone texted me at 4 am which woke me up, and I just couldn’t go back to sleep. So I slept a total of about 4 or 5 hours. I checked my fasting BG anyway and boom, 115. Oh no.

I know for a fact that I haven’t done anything to cause this disaster. Not that I had tons of sweets; I actually did everything by the book, so it must have been something else. Most likely lack of sleep.

In the day before, my morning fasting number was 101. And today, 97. My phone is set to silent from now on.

9 Sept 9. IMG_0331

If only someone invented self-cleaning shower liners, my life would be nearly perfect

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The Journey of a Test Strip — where to buy them.

Where do you buy your strips? This is the question of the day.  Actually not exactly a question but I was at a loss how else to word it. Am still recovering from a shock at hearing local drugstore prices.

Of course you can buy them anywhere and pay through the roof as I just discovered. I was quoted a price over $50 for a 50-count bottle at a local pharmacy. And that is my insurance co-pay. At first I thought I didn’t hear it right and asked again. The pharmacist wasn’t a bit surprised and repeated, $57.99 after some discount whatever that means.

I briefly stopped by at the Rite-Aid site that of course follows the suit in terms of prices.  Since my brand has no reviews and I am a review junkie, I tried to leave one. I said that these strips are grossly overpriced and that off I’m going to the greener pastures with reasonable prices. Predictably enough, this review was moderated for violation of some terms.

I still have one good bottle of 50-ct test strips to go; it expires in October. But now that I was done with all the local pharmacies, I turned to the online sources.

eBay was my first stop. There are some good prices, however few and far between, and then there are some sky high ones. An expiration date remains a gray area and more often than not is not stated. The excuse is that even though the strips did expire, they are still good. The others make a sweeping statement that the strips don’t expire because they are not medication. Really.

Here now, see for yourself:  8 Aug 27. not medication

You need to exercise quite a bit of a due diligence here. I blogged about this yesterday. The strips do expire because they contain enzymes (proteins).  The above strips turned out to have expired last year.

My next stop was Amazon. You can find reasonable prices here, expiration date isn’t posted but I hope it’ll be within the range. I would rather shop for the strips here as I’m buying a gift card at a local grocery store for which I get gas discounts and double points on my credit card that I redeem as a statement credit.

Here now, meet my shopping cart.  Isn’t it lovely?  No bidding and no hassle.

8 Aug 27. Amz shopping cart

Walmart is still on my list as they carry budget test strips. Such as Reli-On, OneTouch and FreeStyle, all are priced rather nicely. OneTouch strips however can get slightly complicated; will cover this later.

And then I came across this gem. Can you believe it? Accu Chek sells the strips on their site with or without a prescription. 8 Aug 27. PRICES on A site

Home delivery is available with the subscription, and naturally, the more you buy, the less you pay per unit. Delivery frequency is between one and six months and the limit is set to six 50-ct strip vials per home delivery order. Subscriptions are available in one-, two-, three- or six-month intervals, and can be canceled any time or so they say. The expiration dates are guaranteed for six months as per email. Wow.  This one definitely took my breath away.

I still don’t get it how come that the strips are available from the manufacturer at rock bottom prices while the drugstores charge through the roof. An unbelievable overhead.

To be continued. I am not quite done yet.

Posted in diabetes, diabetes management, Prices, test strips, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Journey of a Test Strip

I am of course talking about diabetic test strips that I use on a daily basis.   First off, a bit of history.

Test strips and meters likewise are an important part of managing diabetes at home. Nowadays we take them for granted but it wasn’t always this way. Imagine having to do this in a lab and then wait for the results, reportedly ready in a few hours but I bet in my case it would be a few days easily. Then the first meters came into the play. They were bulky, required a few steps and were difficult to use.

The modern meters are easy to use but the strips come with a caveat. They have an expiration date, and I wouldn’t take chances using the ones that have said date in the past. Of course the jury is out as far as strips accuracy or effectiveness but I’m not into this right now. Anyway, the test strips appear to the be the most controversial of all. I am not on insulin or any diabetes medications so can’t comment about effectiveness of the strips related to this. In this post I will discuss the expiration date and the price.

Just how important the expiration date is, is described in detail on the Healthline site.  In regards to the test strips, it is compared to milk.  Apparently it’s not that simple and lots of other variables come into play. With milk, it depends on a brand name, how far it’s been transported and where from etc. Which reminds me of buying a Chobani Greek Yogurt that turned out all mushy and runny; possibly due to the storage problems. After having contacted the manufacturer, I received two coupons for this very product. But I digress.

Back to the test strips. Possibly the milk analogy applies to the test strips just as well, but I wouldn’t take chances with either one. And yes, contrary to some folks’ popular belief, test strips expiration dates do exist. Let’s take a closer look into it.

What makes the strips work?

The little strips despite looking pretty dry, in fact contain enzymes and chemicals. Enzymes being essentially proteins, do expire. So for example if you take nutritional supplement that has past due expiration date, it just won’t be as effective. However it is crucial with the BG test strips, especially for those on insulin.

Of course, the price comes into equation, especially for those whose insurance policy puts limits on the amount of strips per month.

Where oh where do you buy your strips? Will discuss this in the next post. Stay tuned.

And by the way, today my fasting number was 101

8 Aug 26. 101, part 1

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Diabetes is unforgiving

It won’t allow a single misstep. No simple carbs means just that which I found out the hard way when enjoying regular Mountain Dew last month. With it being a lemon-lime flavor, it didn’t even taste like an old Mountain Dew was but tasted like heaven regardless.

Eventually it went down to 114, but went up briefly once again when my computer crashed and had BSOD. My carbs schedule was disrupted for awhile but diabetes doesn’t care.

Now I’m back to watching my carbs, and this morning my fasting number was 106. Woo-hoo! This made my day.

8 Aug 18. 106

 

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This Is America To Me!

This is what America should be!

The Tony Burgess Blog

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All of this is what will make America awesome again.

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It’s 114, yay!

Today my morning fasting BG was 114. Down from 121.

Yay! Doing a happy dance.

7 July 19. Fasting BG 114

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Relapse

Confession time, I have relapsed. Of course I’m talking about my diabetes. Remember when I bragged about snapping out of it? Well, well. Not so fast.

By the way, you know how easy it is to admit your own mistake, more so here on WordPress? This is my lame excuse for putting posting on hold. I am beating myself up; not that it helps any.

No I didn’t snap out of it. My diabetes merely went into hibernation but it was still there regardless. Like hiding in the bushes and waiting for a good moment to lunge at me. Meanwhile, thinking I was in the clear, I consumed a few cans of the new flavor of Mountain Dew, lemon lime ice. It listed only 25g of carbs. Since one carb is 15g, the 25g would comprise roughly a carb and a half. So I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try. It didn’t really taste like a good old Mountain Dew but still good. I enjoyed it, albeit for a short while.

Checking my morning fasting BG, and it’s 125.

Uh oh.

I quit Mountain Dew on the spot. Started watching my carbs like a hawk, drinking a lot of water, having snacks every once in a while and measuring them by a cup, which I think is pretty safe. One cup at a time. About a week later, the morning fasting number is 121. A tad better but still not out of the woods.

7 July 18. Meter

I don’t know what possessed me to drink this stuff. Upon close examination, it does list high fructose corn syrup that should have made all my bells ringing. But alas, it didn’t.

Here’s the picture of a culprit (not counting myself).

7 July 18. Can front & back

So now I’m behaving and giving away all the Mountain Dew cans to my neighbors and the garage staff. I keep them in the fridge and the weather is hot here in the Midwest, so when I offer someone a cold one, everyone’s happy. I assume that none of them have diabetes. I am happy too.

It’ll take a long time to get my BG back to normal. Am not seeing the doctor and definitely am not looking forward to start taking diabetes medications. I am doing the right thing now and my fasting BG is getting better. At one point the postprandial was 112. So I’m getting there. Slowly but surely. Still am not taking any meds but I should have known better than that.

So now no one can tell me about diabetes cure. Think you’re cured? Drink some regular Mountain Dew and then check your morning fasting number. I bet you and I will be on the same boat then.

Thanks for the ear.

UPDATE: in the following morning, my fasting BG is 114. Being proactive and resisting temptations really works. Here’s to hoping it’ll go down some more.

Posted in diabetes, diabetes management, Mountain Dew, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments