In February 2014, I was diagnosis by a podiatrist surgeon that I had a torn Achilles tendon and other tendons in my left foot. I saw the MRI results — horrible stuff. The podiatrist said my left foot was a mess with Planter Fasciitis, a bone spur, and again, a torn Achilles tendon. I was fitted with an orthopedic boot and scheduled for physical therapy. He said two surgeries were needed. Okay, I said to myself, “This is serious, and I have proactive measures in my future.” The podiatrist said weight loss, physical therapy and a wellness program was the formula to provide strength and a good plan for recovery after the surgical repairs. I was vigilant in keeping up with my physical therapy, lost some weight and felt positive in moving toward the enviable surgery.
By April, the physical therapy had greatly reduced the foot pain, but the pain returned if I walked without the orthopedic boot for very long. I knew the long-term goal: surgery.
I returned to my podiatrist in late April for a six-week check up. Soon after I checked in at the doctor’s office, the receptionist immediately asked me to make a payment for what the insurance company had not paid for the doctor visits, the MRI and orthopedic equipment. I had no idea how much the insurance company paid or did not pay — ya know, the deductible thing.
I was told that if a payment was not paid immediately I would not be able to see the doctor today for the appointment. The receptionist said I owed $800. At this time, I did not have the information to make a decision about any payment. I asked when the bill with insurance information was sent. The receptionist said, “Yesterday.”
With my Irish temper in check, I assertively pronounced that I was not going to make a payment until I received “the bill.” Again she said I would not be able to see the doctor today. My voice became a little louder. The other clients in the waiting room no doubt had heard me. I asked to see the doctor. The receptionist said she would see if the podiatrist was available to talk to me.
The doctor agreed to see me for the appointment.
After sternly articulating the humiliating experience I had at his reception desk, he looked at my foot for a follow-up. Oddly enough, he kept mentioning my insurance company in his conversations with me. Next, twisting my foot back and forth, he said the physical therapy was doing a great job in lessening my pain. His next statement, well, it shocked me. The doctor said the nothing of my major surgeries ahead but instead spoke of small cuts to release scar tissue on my foot as the new medical plan. Period. He said to come back in six weeks.
Stunned, I left the doctor’s office even more humiliated. This podiatrist had changed his mind about my medical care based on my insurance company’s ability to pay him well and not wanting to face an imaginary billing battle with me in the future. By the way, I have never defaulted on any medical bills.
I am looking for a new podiatrist.
- Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com