I would be a fool, if I had the opportunity to get out of the VA Medical Center, and I didn't take it, even if I had to pay for the care myself. As long as the medical care in the private sector was affordable, I was willing to give it a try. Anything was better than staying at the VA Medical Center...where I could be murdered...or WORSE! Over the years, I had been screwed at the VA so many time, I wanted out of the VA in the worst way!
As I now enter old age at 63, I'd better decide what to do, because unless I wait...I could be like some of those old-timers I see at the VA all the time...80...85...90 years old and older! I didn't want to be at the VA at that age...
In 2005, I was hospitalized at the VA Medical Center for over three months. Before I was discharged, I was declared disabled by the VA, and nobody at the VA has ever been accountible. When you get slapped in the face at the VA...you've been slapped in the face and that's all there's to it. Overall, my six written complaints at the VA Medical Center all fell on deaf ears, and I never heard from the complaint office...not a letter or a phone call.
About two years later, I received a letter from Social Security, informaing me that I would now be eligible for Medicare, because I had been on the waiting list for two years. (I was not 65 at the time) When I read this, I was jumping up and down full of joy...because this could be my ticket-to-ride out of the VA Medical Center.
I went to the Social Security office and got everything squared away and signed up for Medicare, and it didn't take me long to pick up an application kit from one of the local HMO's and sign up and see what would happen. About two weeks later, I was accepted and I was dancing on sunshine, being out of the VA Medical Center for the last 18 years!
At the VA Medical Center, I had all the incompetance and neglence I could have...for FREE! Government people get paid whether they work or not...or whether they care or not. But, I never expected to see more of the same at my private sector HMO, something I had to pay for right away by paying for Medicare out of my Social Security.
Albuquerque, New Mexico is a city with a population of about 500,000 and there about 3 major hospitals or healthcare plans in the city. For the next two years, I was not a happy camper, as to what was happening at the private HMO...I was feeling like I was back at the VA Medical Center. The first two years with my new private sector HMO was a rocky road, indeed. I made a list and counted about 12-15 things that had gone wrong...I was not a happy camper...especially having to pay for it. I could just go back to the VA and get all the incompetance and neglence that I wanted...for FREE!
- Since I was diagnosed with diabetes at the VA in 2008, I wanted to get a second opinion from someone outside the gates of the VA. My first primary doctor agreed with the doctor at the VA, and I was refered to a diabetes specialist, and here's where the problems began.
I have taken blood tests all my life, so I knew that my glucose (blood sugar) was elevated and finally went over the line. My first doctor prescribed 1,000 mg. of metformin. I knew right away, I was not going to take 1,000 mg. of anything, so I cut the pill in half.
Two weeks later I found myself in the emergency room, for about 12 hours. At 63, I had never suffered from constipation before, and now I was bent over in half, and when the ambulance people picked me up, I told them that if the building where I lived was on fire...I couldn't get out. At that time, I ddin't point the finger at the medication...I didn't know what had put me in the emergency room!
Four months later, it happened again...only this time it was cramping on the bottom of the right foot, and led up the right side and the cramping and needles and pins of the foot and hand. I thought I was having a stroke, as I limped around for about ten days. Finally, around Columbus Day of 2009, I had to call 911 again, and I was taken again to the emergency room...only this time I was admitted and I spent the next two days taking tests. With four tests in the hospital and two more on an outpatient basis, doctors did not find out what my problem was. I know what the problem was...the medication I was given...but try to tell that to a doctor!
- I had been having trouble with sleep over the years I was homeless; declared bankruptcy and so forth. So, I wrote an article concerning sleep deprivation and diabetes. With over 220 articles on hand, this piece has climbed in the top ten on my articles list. Not because I wrote it, but because there is interest in the subject. I give a copy of it to my new doctor at the HMO, and I told her I felt that the problem with the diabetes might have to do with the sleep problems I was having for years. At 63 at the time, I weighed 170 pounds and there had to be a reason for the deadly diabetes.
My doctor scheduled a sleep test at the sleep center, and I took one test in March, 2009 and the other in June, 2009. I had a visit scheduled in July, and I thought the results of the sleep tests would be high on the agenda. But, before the visit to my new doctor at the HMO, I decided not to bring up the subject...just see if she would bring up the subject or not. SHE DIDN'T! There was not one whisper of my sleep problems; the sleep test results...NOTHING! I knew when I left the doctor's visit, I was going to change doctors...and I did that afternoon.
My new doctor was just as bad, as we never in the three visits over about 6 months, he never talked or brought up the sleep issue, and I give him one of my articles on sleep deprivation, too. I ran into apathy again...for a second time in just a few months.
As my sleep has improved over the years, my finger-pricking results and my A1C have gone down. On the finger-pricking, my average for each month was about 130 and my A1C had dropped from 6.8 to 5.9 in two months. Everyone knows diabetes is a killer, and I have to keep an eye on this.
- In February, 2010 I turned 65, and I could now qualify for the supplement insurance of the 20% that Medicare doesn't cover. I was glad to get my card, my number, and I sent all this information to the HMO to update their records. But, somebody at the HMO dropped the football, and I was not shown on the records.
When I had a colonoscopy in September, 2010, everything went fine, and than about two weeks later I got a bill for nearly $400 as my co-pay. I called the HMO, and I was told I was not on record as having supplement insurance. I called the insurance company, and I was told I was up to date on payment, and that they would pay the invoice if it was sent to them. Whew!
- When I had the colonoscopy or the attempt...I think I was lied to by the nurse and the doctor. A lot of prep work went into the preperation the day before...laxatives, etc. Because I didn't have a ride home after the procedure (city bus), I couldn't be given the sedative/pain-killer required. But, the nurse and the doctor, insured me that 'a lot of people do the colonoscopy without a sedative/pain-killer.'
So, because there was so much predaration the day before, I decided to go with no sedative/pain-killer. We had just got started with the precedure, when I was over-whelmed with pain, and I had to call for it to stop! This was probably just long enough to bill Medicare for the full amount. As this piece is written, I have not heard about another doctor visit to do another colonoscopy.
Needless to say, I was upset over this...and I could get all this incompetance at the VA...for FREE!
- One day I got a call from the nurse to my second diabetes doctor, confirming an appointment that I had not made. "What is the appointment for?" I asked. I wasn't going to pay a co-pay just to chit-chat. "It's just routine," she said. I was not going to pay for an appointment, without a blood test...to have something to make it worth it...and talk about the blood test, etc. (sounds to me, that somebody just wants to bill Medicare for another office visit)
About the same time, I got a letter from my primary doctor about the physical exam I had made earlier. Now, I could have the blood test...and kill two birds with one stone, and see my diabetes doctor and and have the blood test for my primary doctor as well. The visit with the diabetes doctor didn't go well, as he couldn't even remember what medication I was on, and had to get the results of the blood test from his nurse, after I told him I had had a blood test the previous week. When I left the visit, I didn't even make another appointment...I knew there would be another doctor in the future!
- Twice in 2010, I had problems in getting my heart medication at Wal Mart. And, both times I had to call the HMO, to see what and why there was a delay. Wal Mart pointed to the HMO...and the HMO pointed to Wal Mart for the problems. I was caught in the middle of this fight, and I was getting upset, because I could get all this at the VA for no cost.
- When I went in for my scheduled physical exam with my primary doctor, I was quite appalled at what happened...or didn't happen! We just talked about the blood test results that I had just taken...and nothing else happened. There was no check-up or nothing...just what the nurse did before I came into the exam room.
I knew when I left that morning, that there would have to be changes in the air. About that same time I got some information from a compteting HMO in town, and I decided to look into it, as the enrrollment period was around the corner in late 2010.
- It had been 18 months since I took the sleep tests at the sleep center, and I had heard from no one on the matter.
- After my initial primary doctor, left for greener pastures, I was assigned another primary. About two weeks later, I was called by someone at the HMO, to make an appointment to see my new primary. I wasn't going to pay another co-pay just to chit-chat. I would not make an appointment with my new primary, unless I needed to see him. I cancelled any appointments. (it sounded to me, that somebody was just out to make a buck here, and bill Medicare for it)
There are about 4 other situations that I am not happy about, but in the interest of time and space, the reader has a snapshot of what I'm talking about, and a few of the reasons why I changed HMO's.
Needless to say, my first two years with my new HMO, were not peaches and cream. I was disappointed after having so much enthusiam after leaving the VA Medical Center. In the late fall of 2010, I received some information of the competing HMO, and I signed up for it, and was accepted in November, 2010. On Christmas Eve of 2010, I received a letter from my current HMO...saying...
"Dear Mr. Aragon...Medicare has confirmed your disenrollment from the (HMO) as of December 31, 2010.
I now look forward to my new HMO, starting in the new year of 2011. At this time, I have no plans to go back to the old HMO...or the VA Medical Center...alive OR dead...
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