The Handwriting on the HMO Wall

Monday, July 12, 2021

I turn 74 this year, and the handwriting is on the HMO wall. I spent over three hours this morning on the phone trying to make an appointment with a cardiologist when the hospital I am assigned to by my HMO does not have a single cardiologist listed with the company that is in charge of collecting and retaining this information. This is the same hospital system in which I endured an artery that was 90 percent blocked for almost three months back in the late summer and early fall of 2010 before I installed myself in an emergency room and refused to leave until they found a way to stop my chest and arms from hurting so badly that I was in tears. And now it appears they don’t even have access to the mediocrities they had running the show back then. No doubt the hospital does have some cardiologist on call to handle emergencies, and it was simply my misfortune today to have three hours of my time taken up because the medical system isn’t capable of ordinary communication.

I wonder, though, why I should be so generous in granting the system a free pass to gorge itself at my expense. This is, after all, a system my employer and I have paid several hundred thousand dollars to over the past decade and a half for health insurance coverage. How could it be that the system is so short-handed that it can’t keep track of crucial medical information?

The sad part is that these shortages in care are only going to get worse. The rationing that is taking place in treating covid patients, for instance, is just a foretaste of what is being discussed at hospital policy meetings these days. Brace yourself, my fellow baby boomers. (As for the Emperor of Blue Shield, “we who are about to be jettisoned salute you!)

I still do not have an appointment with a cardiologist, by the way, nor will I be able to schedule one for several more weeks.

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