Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When an Apple a Day Isn't Enough

We, the uninsured, are tired of being judged. Let me just put that right out there. We know protecting our health is important. We know we need to take care of things “just in case.” I mean, my book starts with getting health insurance. It’s important. We get it. We like peace of mind as much as the next guy.

We’re also tired of not being covered when we have medical expenses. We enjoy being healthy and going to the doctor.

And we are looking forward to Obamacare and whatever benefits it may bring.


Someday we’ll have healthcare. In the meantime, I have a possible solution. And I’m not even being snarky. It’s a real-live, honest-to-goodness solution, and I meant to share it last time I went, and I forgot. My apologies.

Uninsured friends- do you know about the Ryan-Chelsea Clinton Clinic? It might be literally saving my life today.

I found out about the Ryan Clinic a few months ago from a friend. I have thyroid disease. This MUST be treated. My prescription was running out. I didn’t know what to do. A friend of said friend had mentioned the clinic to her before, but it seemed too good to be true. But it’s not. It’s a real place.

I registered in May and got an appointment for a few days later. I was seen right on time. The doctor was really kind. And then I went around the corner and filled my prescription. For $7. My cost for the visit was $125. This is only because I am “out of borough.” Manhattan residents pay based on a sliding scale. The guy next to me today had a co-pay of $3.

But it’s my experience today that I most want to share.

I realized about a week ago that I was running out of my medication, and I knew I didn’t have any refills. I’m headed to Ohio tomorrow, so I called to get an appointment at the clinic. No such luck- the next available appointment was on January 27. I explained to the nice lady on the phone (she really was a nice lady) that I would be in the hospital by then. She suggested I try a walk-in. OK then. Sounds like a plan.

I sent my friend Lindsay a text asking her to watch Lily today so I could go. (Lindsay has saved me in many, MANY of these situations. She is Lily’s regular babysitter, but is also a friend and will lend a hand when needed. So publicly- thanks for that.) Off I went on the Metro-North. I arrived at the clinic around 11:00 and was told at the check-in desk that all of the walk-ins were gone for the day.

Naturally, I started to cry.

“Is it an emergency?” The guys asked.

“It is, actually,” I answered quite truthfully. My thyroid condition is well-managed and totally under control. But left untreated… well, no one wants that.

“It’s OK. Just sign in and talk to the nurse,” he said, smiling. Seriously. Smiling.

So I sat down, and I waited. I waited maybe- MAYBE- twenty minutes before a nurse called my name, took me into a room, asked me why I was there, and immediately closed the door when I started crying. (there’s a lot of crying in this story.)

I told her I tried to make an appointment. I knew I should have an appointment. And I couldn’t get there any earlier because I needed to have a babysitter, and I just really really needed my medication and-

A few clicks on the computer and a short phone call later and she had an appointment for me with a doctor who was ahead of schedule for the day. No judgment. She just… fixed it.

I was sitting in front of that doctor about fifteen minutes later.

“So, what brings you in today?”

“Well, first of all, I really need my thyroid medication refilled.”

“OK. I can do that.” Clicking on the computer, pulling up my chart…. And then… “And second? You said ‘first of all.’ So what else?”

Oh, look. I’m crying again.

I told her that I’d struggled with depression for a long time. That I’ve been off of medication for about a year and I’m realizing that’s probably not a great long-term plan. That I was in therapy forever, I have the skills, I get it, but only if my chemicals are balanced. Which… they are not, currently.

Very, very calmly, she started to ask me some questions. About my life, whether I have anxiety, that kind of thing. I told her I hadn’t had anxiety before, but that I started to have it pretty badly when I went from being a college professor to staying home with my daughter.

“Ah. So you lost your job.”

“No. It was a choice.”

“Oh!” she smiled. Because this is a legitimate choice, and she understands that. “And do you have a partner?”

“Yes, my husband.”

“And you can’t get health insurance through his job?”

“No. We can’t.”

“He’s an artist?”

“Ha! Yes! Yes he is! We both are!” And the thing is, she wasn’t saying it in an “oh, I see, you guys are dead-beat parents who don’t know how to take care of things” kind of way. (yes, we’ve gotten this attitude.) It was only “oh, I see. You guys are legitimately in a field which often does not provide health insurance.”

And THAT makes all the difference.

I left the clinic with two prescriptions ($27), two future appointments, and a renewed sense of hope. Please, check it out my friends. It’s open to anyone (I don’t even live in the State of NY, let alone the city…) and it’s a really solid option for us until we get this figured out. Or the government does. Either way. Stay healthy out there.

1 comment:

  1. Wow this is awesome. My regular doctor lets me slide by for $100 instead of his usual $140 because hes a great guy. I need to look for something similar to this clinic in Baltimore, especially with Ben's MS and all that.