Doctor to Patient: DROP DEAD

I took this title from the headline of the NY Daily News when President Ford refused to extend funds to NYC.  The headline was Ford to NY: Drop Dead.

This is the continuing saga of my client Allan.

As I wrote before, RI Medical Assistance, Blue Chip ( a Blue Cross plan), dropped Allan with 13 days notice.  The final day was September 30,2010 (11:59PM) as per the insurance certificate issued from Blue Cross.  Allan had an appointment with an endocrinologist on September 30.  He is on high dose IV steroids for three months (finishing first month). He has to be monitored by an endocrinologist to taper off the medication or else he risks a life threatening event- his adrenals failing.  The oncologist personally spoke with the endocrinologist and made the appointment.

On September 30 afternoon, I received a call from Allan’s wife and she said “are you sitting down?” She relayed the following events to me.

Upon arriving, she and Allan – in a wheelchair- were told he was no longer covered by Blue Cross and the doctor would not see Allan.  She asked if she could call Blue Cross and was told “Not on my phone.” She said no problem she would use her cell phone. That wasn’t good enough at the time.  Allan would be able to see the doctor only if $280.00 was paid in cash.  Otherwise, they had to leave.  So they left because they didn’t have the cash on hand.  Both Allan and his wife just couldn’t take anymore.  She called me on her way home.

Blue Cross messed up but that could have been resolved with a phone call.  Denied by the office.

I was absolutely livid when I heard this story.  The doctor’s office action was unconscionable.  I understand the need for reimbursement but to put someone’s life on the line crosses so many boundaries.  Of course , the doctor has great deniability by saying he wasn’t consulted.  I know from working in medical offices, doctors set the office standard and let the business office manage it.  They can then blame their office people without taking responsibility.  This is the myth that doctors are not involved in the business side.  But this is a small practice not run by a hospital.  The doctor sets the standard for payment. At all times, there were options for a different outcome.

What would it have taken to have a small amount of compassion and allowed Allan’s wife to call the insurance company? or what about consulting the doctor for a pass given the medical situation?  I will let you answer it for yourself.

This doctor showed such disregard for a human being and all ethical standards. In the immortal words of Joseph Nye Welch to Joe McCarthy *at the Senate hearings on Communists.

“Have you no decency sir.  Have you no decency?”

*Originally wrote Eugene which was incorrect.