Health care in the US is complicated

I’m so incredibly lucky to be covered by the Columbia Health Insurance. That shit is expensive here, and there is no way I would get coverage for myself due to my medical history of cancer.

In my first week of class, I made an appointment at the on-campus medical centre. I met my doctor and went through a bunch of physical checks to generate a base-line of my current health status.

I went through my history and the ongoing surveillance that is being done for my blood-work on a periodic basis through Princess Margaret. I shared my existing medical notes from my oncologist and that enabled my doctor to submit the necessary blood-work requests on campus.

It was after this that things got complicated. There was one test that the doctor said may have to be done in a lab off-campus. Which means the cost would go through insurance. Coming from Canada, I have no idea what that means. I quickly learned that there are a whole bunch of hoops to jump through and people to contact to figure out whether something like this is covered, and if it is, then whether it needs “pre-certification”.

After about a few days of calling different lines for the insurance company I got a close enough answer that told me “pretty sure it’s covered, but you would have to wait until it comes through from the off-campus lab to know for sure.”

I decided to just go for it and if I had to pay for it out of pocket then I would and I would learn to just go home for the blood tests next time. I needed to get them done sooner than later and time was slipping while I tried to find the one person who could help guide me through the system.

Getting the blood taken was pretty easy, although the nurse missed the vein the first time. Needles and getting blood drawn has become an almost relaxing experience. If it was anything other than that, I don’t know if I’d survive all the ones I’ve been through so far.

Anyways - I got the blood tests back already. All good. Things are looking great. I sent them off to my oncologist and I believe he will say the same.

I also found out that all the tests were done on campus, so none of them went through insurance and I didn’t need to bother calling anyone in the first place. The whole system feels just a bit… disjointed and fragile… and somehow it falls on the patient to work their way through the maze of approvals and coverage-types and procedure-codes, and whatnot.

I made my way through it for now but here’s hoping that I won’t have to access the system all that much.