Wednesday, March 5, 2008

week of woe

The party on Saturday was, indeed, a blast and I stayed until almost midnight :-) Thanks a lot to everyone who attended! The safe word was ‘chicken’. Here's a typical picture:

It’s been a busy, yet pretty unproductive week. The oncologist at Karlák refused to see me yesterday, claiming I owed them money from before and a deposit of CZK 100K for any further treatment, including yesterday’s initial consultation. Of course, no one had called, told, or warned me that I would have to lug one hundred thousand crowns in a Tesco or (if I wanted to be cool a) Zlaté Stránky bag (as no one seemed to have the hospital’s bank account number) to my first oncology consultation.

At that point, after twelve days (granted, she was on vacation for a week), she still had not seen the histology, MRIs, X-Rays or CT scans, so the CZK 100K meeting would have been... pointless. So she sent me to make copies of everything, even though it’s the same hospital that produced many of them and certainly had all of them.

I returned with the copies and we are to meet next Tuesday at 9AM, provided I pay my (turns out to be non-existent) bill (read on!) and the one hundred thousand crowns by Friday. Chemo would start immediately following our meeting.

You know, that’s just not the way I roll. In other words, ‘Homey don’t play that’ or a simple ‘no thank you’ will do.

I went in search of the “Economic Department” (‘Finance’ for you English-speakers), which, of course, was in a different building – through the actual Faust Haus, of all places. I went to get the elusive bank info, but wound up spending some hard time there arguing my case. "We've been waiting for you," they said. So why didn't they just call me?

I asked them how much I owed them from before and... they didn’t know. I said, “Wha? Where’s the invoice? How can you expect me to pay a random amount of money? How can you expect my insurance company to pay you without an invoice?” At that point, one of the women handed me a handy, handwritten piece of scrap paper with a couple of dates on it, but without any actual numbers (like charges or amounts or something) that one could add up, like on an invoice.

I finally convinced them to call my insurance company, who had assured, ensured, insisted and swore that they would pay the entire bill for my prior treatment. The insurance guy repeated this on the phone with Karlák. And... they didn’t believe him.

So now, I really don’t know what to do. I’m trying to get a second (or rather first) opinion at Motol with Havel’s doctor, Professor Pafko, and the oncologist over there, but it’s a little slow-going and I don’t have much time.

It's late and I've got to get to bed. More tomorrow. -m


Maie said...

jesus mike! I will never slam the NHS again!

Anonymous said...

Why don't you go back to Karlák with a lot of cash early on Friday and make them come up with the figure. You can sort if out with the insurance afterwards. If you start dumping money on the desk and demanding your chemo they are going to be forced to help you out. It seems like the priority should be starting the treatment on time and not letting some crippled hospital bureaucracy keep you from what you need. Unless of course you have decided that Karlák is incapable of meeting your needs...

Greg said...

I sincerely hope that those reading this either already have medical insured or, if not, are opening up a second browser window, loading Google, and typing in "international travelers insurance" or "personal health insurance" or some other equally useful phrase.

chihuahua lady said...

mikey this is really unfortunate, but something to ride out with the idea in the back of your mind that without raising your blood pressure levels they eventually want to come to your point of view, they just dont know how to get there yet.
keep it up with taking names of everyone you speak to, and their supervisors, and get numbers where you can, calmly, plod plod, politely but so that they know your boot is directly under their arses. all energy is on this at the moment. remember most of the time someone says no or an unreasonable thing is that they dont know what is going on and dont want to take the blame for making a mistake.probably in this case phone calls from the doctors on your behalf (ie someone the hospital staff know or will feel obliged to listen to) will help if possible.
the mike-romanagement skills may be used for delegation and phone follow up rather than any face-to-face stress if possible.
give your mum a hug from us!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Ugh ... it seems Karlák is simply located too close to the Ministry of Health.

Good luck with Prof. Pafko!


Liz of Brandýs

VMH said...

Hey Mike, you are teaching me grace. There's no way I could be so calm and persistent in the same situation. You WILL overcome this stupid bureaucratic bullshit, and I'm really sorry our US Embassy won't lift a finger to help facilitate. Pretty shameful!

Shay said...

I think bringing 100k Krowns in small bills in an old Albert bag with a companion one full of roliks would really show them you mean business.

Sorry you have to deal with this, forward we move!

Love and miss you,