Doctor, doctor

By Mir
July 11, 2007

Slowly, ever so slowly, we are unpacking and taking care of the things that need to be taken care of. I finally changed my cell phone to a local number, only to discover that the previous owner of my number apparently had a lot of unpaid bills. (At least all of those bill collecting calls for someone on my cell phone are things that are being charged against my minutes, rather than all the wrong numbers we get on the home phone for free.)

I’m still busy hassling the local school district over the kids’ school placement (that’s another post or five for another time), and it occurred to me that one of the things that we need are immunization records in a Georgia format. Because that would be totally different than their current immunization records.

[Their current immunizations are listed as Varicella… MMR… DTP… whereas they apparently need some forms that say Varicella y’all… MMR my stars… DTP with sweet tea….]

[Oh, I am going to get nasty mail from southerners for that one, I just know it. Notice how I don’t delete it, though. Us damn yankees.]

Anyway, Otto was kind enough to get all of us new insurance cards and he’d helpfully placed them on my desk as soon as we moved in. I then promptly piled several stacks of other stuff on top of them and forgot they were there. But today I remembered I had the cards, so I dug them out and asked Otto to show me how to look up the provider directory online.

My logic: I could pick our primary care doctor, schedule appointments for the kids, get all the necessary paperwork, and be ready to roll before school starts.

When I first became a mom I always picked a pediatrician for the kids, because I felt that only someone who specialized in kids was suitable for myyyyy preshus baybeeeeees. Over the last few years I’ve come to realize that it’s very handy for all three of us to be able to see the same doctor, so that when we’re all suffering from the same contagious crud we can schedule one appointment and all get drugs if we need them. So I was looking for a family practice doctor for the three of us.

I ended up picking one based on a very scientific system which I would explain to you if it made any sense whatsoever. But it doesn’t, so I can only tell you that Otto and I are clearly made for each other because the doctor I picked—without discussing it with him at all—is his current doctor.

In fact, Otto pointed out to me between chuckles that I’d selected the doctor ALREADY ON OUR CARDS as he’d had to put someone down in order to put us on the plan.

How convenient!

I phoned the office and explained that we were new patients and I needed to set up appointments for my kids to be seen and get their school paperwork. The very nice lady on the phone told me that she could assist me, and started taking our information. She then interrupted me to ask how old the kids are. When I told her, she asked me to hold on for just a minute.

The hold music was uninspiring.

She finally returned and told me that the doctor in question doesn’t see anyone under the age of twelve. I looked down at our insurance cards, which clearly listed him as the chosen primary doctor for all three of us (two of whom are under twelve). I looked up at the computer screen, where his provider profile lists him as being in FAMILY PRACTICE and seeing patients from BIRTH ONWARD. I politely pointed these things out to the woman on the phone.

“Yes, well, I’m sorry,” she said.

“You, uh, might want to let Blue Cross know,” I said. “Seeing as how they let me pick him and have him listed as a family provider even though he doesn’t actually see CHILDREN.”

“I’m sorry,” she said again, in a tone that told me she wasn’t a bit sorry.

Alrighty then!

I went back to the provider directory and applied my highly scientific method again and came up with another choice. I then called the office to see if THIS doctor is truly in family practice or if that’s just a polite way of saying “WILL SEE ANYONE EXCEPT LITTLE KIDS.”

The new office was very kind and accommodating, and set us up with appointments for next week, and gave me all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings. I got off the phone thinking well FINE, I would rather go there than the other place, ANYWAY.

And then I called the HMO to switch providers.

The nice young man at the HMO asked me to please provide a reason for the switch. “Well, you assigned my children to a doctor who REFUSES TO SEE THEM,” I informed him with all the enthusiasm I could muster. “And that was REALLY SPECIAL and all, but I thought maybe we should go with a doctor who can actually treat them in case they get sick. I’m crazy that way!”

He had no sense of humor whatsoever. “Yes ma’am,” he intoned, and continued tapping away on his keyboard.

Eventually he said, “I have made that change for you, Mrs. Otto, and that will be effective on August 1st.”

I pointed out that the kids have appointments NEXT WEEK, and in fact need to be seen before school starts, so this would not be acceptable. He launched into something about how changes can only be made once a month and blah blah blah and finally I pointed out that I would not be switching if the HMO had bothered to assign my children to an appropriate doctor to begin with, so really, I didn’t care what he needed to do, but it’s not actually, I don’t know, HEALTH INSURANCE unless they allow us to have COVERAGE.

He put me on hold for a minute and came back to inform me that the change is now retroactive to July 1st and we’re all set.

Damn straight.

Now. I just hope we like this new doctor, because if we don’t I’m not sure I possess the necessary energy to find and switch to a different one. (And as for my new HMO: Bless their hearts.)


  1. ChristieNY

    Unbelievable!!! Our “family doctor” doesn’t see patients under 4, and since my two kids are both under 4, well I may as well be going to an Internist since I have to take them to the Pediatrician anyway when we’re all sick. Makes NO sense to me!

    Sorry for the run around, hopefully you’ll love the new doc and get all the forms in order ASAP. Hang in there pretty Mir, all will be well! :)

  2. Kris

    Doctors and insurance. When someone can figure them out, and market what they know, they’ll be insanely rich peoples.

  3. Jenn

    I chose my eye doctor by narrowing the field down to the closest three that took our insurance. One had terrible hours, and of the two that were left, one of them spelled the name of the town incorrectly over and over again. I got lucky and the doctor who was left is fabulous.

    A few summers ago, my husband started getting phone calls from bill collection agencies on his cell phone and they always wanted someone named Darlene. It turns out that Darlene’s hobby is not paying her bills and then making up fake phone numbers to give companies. Our cell phone company very kindly changed the number for free. Maybe they’ll change it for you again? (And then they’ll put it in your record that your hobby is changing your cell phone number.)

  4. Rachel May

    I am ALL FOR having one PCP. Makes life so much easier.

    Way to stick to your guns, Mir! You go, girl. Bless yo’ little heart and all yo’ othah little parts.

  5. carson

    I’ve really fallen behind on my stalking of Mir recently, and I have nothing but apologies for it. After all, you did move all the way to Georgia to make it easy for me, right?

    And just for future reference, damnyankee is one word. (You do know how to tell the difference between a yankee and damnyankee, right? The yankee visits. The damnyankee moves.)

  6. Anna


    You don’t “know me from Adam’s housecat”, but surely you weren’t “holding your mouth right” when you made those calls. Like me (transplanted from California to the South 24 years ago) you probably feel like you like you have been” chewed up and spit out”. I am “fixin” to clear things up for you.

    Really, they “didn’t mean to be ugly to you”, it is just if “they had an idea, it would die of loneliness”. I am so glad you “gave them a talkin to”, because really “that dog don’t hunt” and they were both “acting like they ain’t got no mama”.

    Welcome to the South, I love your posts yankeeisms and all. I am serious as all git out.

    Anna (Left Coast Yankee)

  7. becky

    ah, the joys of HMOs. i feel for you. truly.

    i don’t remember if you’ve mentioned it… will we see you @ the end of the month in chi-town?

  8. Heather

    Ok so my new favourite thing is “if they had an idea it would die of loneliness.” Too funny.
    Good luck with the adventures of HMOs, Mir! Sounds like a serious pain the patoot.

  9. MsRebecca

    The whole process drives me nuts, just ended up paying a rediculous amount for my daughter’s braces, they denied the claim stating that I needed a referral from the primary dentist that they chose on my plan that I refuse to go to because he’s awful..
    now if I could only get her to wear the retainer now that the braces are off.. maybe I can glue it into her mouth.. and health insurance.. Oy.. don’t get me started.. they are no better..

  10. Karen@FamilyBriefs

    Girlfriend, I am with you on this insurance crap! I don’t know why they make you jump through so many stupid hoops – and they’re not even hoops appropriately aligned with the doctors – it’s more like an obstacle course!!! I hate insurance! But I LOVE our pediatrician. If you don’t like the new doc, mine is only about a 2 hour drive from you :)

  11. Wacky Mommy

    That kills me that it was the same doctor. Meant for each other, indeed.

  12. Cele

    Oh so glad I do not have to endure that anymore. HMOs have
    far too much power and sway.

  13. carrien

    Every time I think about health insurance I want to pull my, figurative, apron over my head and run screaming back to Canada, the land of free and largely hassle free health care were you can walk into any doctor in the country and show them your health care card and they will see you. THis whole HMO thing makes my brain explode and I feel strangely panicked about the whole thing.

  14. Tracey

    Oh my stars, I am sitting here open mouthed over your health care system – and so am jumping up from my daily lurker status to make exclamations! about it! Apart from the fact that your doctors discriminate who they see on the basis of health insurance, they also discriminate on the basis of age?!! That is unheard of here! (Australia). We are always making dire predictions about the government we have had in for the past 10 years gradually dismantling the medicare system and taking us down the path of the US, but I never fully realised how outrageous your system was. Sheesh!!

    [We have a combination of public and private health insurance here. Everyone is protected by the public system. If you want choice of doctor for a specialist in many cases you will need to have private insurance (or simply be prepared to pay), but, for General Practice? No way.]

  15. Leandra

    Hey Mir,

    Leandra here. If you turn out to hate your new doctor I’ve got a great recommendation for a family practitioner in your town (and is probably accepted by your HMO since I work at the same place as Otto). A couple of weeks ago my 2 year old daughter and I both had some kind of crud (different kinds of crud, but crud nonetheless) — but we have different doctors. I wasn’t taking her to her doctor because I knew what she had was virus, but I had to take her with me when I went to see mine (that was fun, let me tell you). Anyway, when I mentioned that she was sick too and I that I thought she had some form of hand, foot and mouth he offered to check her b/c he had seen a lot of strep that week. So, he tested her and didn’t even charge me! Which, have you EVER heard of THAT from a doctor? (The test came back negative, by the way). He said he just didn’t want me to have spend a couple of hours at the Emergency room or an urgent care clinic over the weekend. Amazing! Let me know if you’d like his name.

  16. Ayla

    There are times when Canada’s medical system truly seems like a piece of crap… and then I read something like this and I have to appreciate it anyway… Not that it’s possible to get a doctor anyway, as any doctor around usually has such a full roster that they’re not accepting new patients. Lucky me, I can see the doctor on campus (which was great when I had shingles earlier this year.) Even better, is that I avoid the doctor like the plague if I can. (The shingles were one of those ‘can’t avoid doctor’ scenarios’ I suppose…)

  17. LyndaL

    Are you serious? Doctors in your country can refuse to treat children under 12 if they want? That staggers me – GPs here in the UK treat everyone. All of them. I can’t imagine the hoots of derision if a doctor here suggested they would only see certain kinds of patients. Whenever I read about the healthcare system in the US it makes me glad to live in Scotland. The climate on the other hand…..not so much.

  18. Katie

    I kept my old cell phone number from Ohio when we moved to Maryland. I’m mean like that.

    Hope the kids’ doctor is a good one!

  19. el-e-e

    Clearly you have found your bearings in Georgia. You understand the real meaning of “Bless their hearts.” I’m so proud of you. :)

  20. Randi

    HMO’s = EVIL!

  21. Sara

    DTP with sweet tea. HAHAHAHA!!!

  22. tammy

    My aunt the nurse got me a list of who the L&D nurses at the hospital said were the best pediatricians in town, so if your new person doesn’t work out, let me know and I’ll send you their names.

  23. jennie

    You are my hero! I would have politely thanked the receptionist, and then stressed about needing to finding a pediatrician. Then i would have politely thanked the HMO guy for the august 1st switch, and panicked about not getting stuff done before school started. I’m just really efficient that way. Plus, i avoid confrontation at. all. costs! I will try to remember your asskickiness next time i need to actually disagree with someone about something. :)

  24. Aimee

    You didn’t say who your cell provider is, but I betcha if you call up and make a gigantic stink about the minutes they’ll fix your bill. I had a similar issue, where my husband and I switched to a family plan and I immediately began getting hundreds of text messages a day from people I neither knew nor cared to know. The company that rhymes with fingular fixed the bill and we never had to pay for any of them. I’m not going to lie to you and say that it didn’t take a few phone calls, but I think if I had gone into full Yankee bitch mode immediately, it would’ve happened sooner!

  25. kim

    My scientific method of choosing a doc when I moved to my current city was to pick the one next door to my veterinarian, because I had found one of those within a few hours of arriving. A doc took another couple of weeks. Priorities…. I was a single person then.

    He turned out to be a brilliant family practice guy, cradle to grave, a one-man show even. Now that I have a family, we all see him. My greatest fear in life is this man’s retirement.

  26. Gerome

    How are the kids handling being 1000 miles from their father? Or did he accompany them/you to GA?

  27. jenn

    For pity’s sake, why didn’t that idiot just make it retroactive to begin with? Why is it absolutely necessary to get in an insurance companies face to get something accomplished? And who ever heard of a family practitioner not seeing children???? UGH.

  28. Wendy

    I wasnt going to say anything, but I think you need to learn the Southern way to talk. First lesson, there is a certain way to say Ma’am where it really means, Bitch. Once you get that down you should feel a little better. Second lesson, learn to smile when you say something nasty. It leaves the other person a wee bit confused, so you can get away from them.

    Good luck.

  29. Summer

    Personally, I pick doctors based on whether or not a reasonable-sounding human being answers the phone when I call the office. So your means of selecting a new doctor makes total sense to me.

    And with your new cell number, at least you’re better off than a friend of mine who recently moved to DC from far away. Her new cell number, it appears, used to belong to a drug dealer. For the first few weeks, her voice mail was full of messages asking if she had “the stuff” or if “the shipment” had come in. Fun!

  30. ScottsdaleGirl

    I hang my head in shame every time I see a story like this. I don’t ever tell anyone who I work for anymore because it’s worse than telling them that I am a Scorpio.

  31. arduous

    Wow, I can’t believe you defeated the HMOs! I yell at em all the time, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference.

    Also, I am shocked you managed to get an appointment for a new patient next week. I made an appointment a month ago for SEPTEMBER. Because that was all my doctor had. And I’m a returning patient.

    And they say there are long waits in England and Canada. Sigh.

  32. Amy-Go

    Have I told you about the HMO that refused to believe that when I moved to Kansas I brought my children WITH me? Imagine! And it only took me EIGHT MONTHS to change their minds! Fun!

  33. tuney

    I wonder sometimes how the medical profession progressed form accepting chickens and hams for payment to the extortion they now practice. I recently had a doc and her entire office look and talk to me like I was mentally challenged because I DARED show up asking for service without insurance. They offered to make me a deal to keep costs down, which amounted to a 50% discount. While that SOUNDS great, it made me see why insurance is such a racket. After all, it means they can AFFORD to only charge me half. Kinda like a Rolls dealership selling Kias. Or something.

  34. Fold My Laundry Please

    Immunization records need to be in a “Georgia format”? I’ve never heard of such a thing. We’ve moved all over and all three of my kids were born in different states (Arizona, Washington, and Idaho). When I went to sign my 5 year old up for kindergarten here in Oregon, the school nurse didn’t even flinch at his out of state record. And none of their doctors has ever mentioned any sort of difference. Perhaps my kids have a “Western United States” format for their shot records. Of course!

  35. Mom101

    I am waiting for your snarky, clever, quotable anagram for HMO…

  36. Niihaus

    I go away for a few months and come back to find MARRIAGE!! MOVING!! Holy smokes I’ve got a lot of reading to do!

  37. HamIam

    Hmmm…I wonder if your HMO is in cahoots with my mortgage company. I had a similar customer “service” phone call yesterday – where I had to remind her what her job was. And question what the point of the grace period was, if they were going to charge me a late fee for paying within the grace period?


  38. julie

    And my brother-in-law thinks Michael Moore is a nutcase…

  39. Tee

    Gosh – I’m so tired of putting up with doctor’s offices/billing and insurance. No one is doing their job right which results in me spending hours sorting out THEIR messes. I feel your pain.

  40. Jenifer

    My God you poor thing! I HATE insurances… but I won’t go into it…. let’s just say my insurance covers my Zyrtec allergy PILLS but because my daughter has allergies too and needs the LIQUID medication, apparently we punish 2 year olds who can’t swallow pills because hers is not covered.

    And BTW my cell phone voice mail after 2 years STILL says…

    “Hi this is not Shelly, I don’t know who Shelly is, or how to reach her, or her current employment, or why she is avoiding all of you…… please don’t call back!”

  41. Jen

    You need to go see Sicko. This is straight out of that movie.

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