Retired social workers see things from a different perspective... a perspective of understanding and navigating systems. Throughout our careers we have helped OTHERS navigate these systems. Once retired, we'll encounter a system or two ourselves. It can be a shocking experience or just another social work challenge.
So here is my recent experience signing up with a major healthcare HMO. I'll enjoy reading comments from others who have had similar experiences.
It was Medicare open enrollment period. Choices were to be made based on quality, cost and convenience. I decided to go to a meeting held by a local healthcare HMO, a very well-regarded HMO. The slick marketing team explained the "products," but I had already circled the one I thought would benefit me the most in my booklet. I had carefully compared the program to the one I was on. The one I was on was costing more and more money. With cataract surgery looming, I thought I'd like to save some money.
Besides. I thought, change can be good for the most part. I perked up when the HMO reps talked about the dental program and the free health club membership. I had considered returning to swimming and free sounded like a very good price. And now I paid $45 per month for dental insurance. And I still didn't like going to the dentist!
But mostly, I wanted to experience the continuity of care and health promotion aspects of this HMO. In my working life I had known a couple of physicians associated with the company and was impressed with their holistic approach.
I signed on the dotted line and looked forward to seeing what the HMO could do to help me with health issues (and, financial issues). I sent in the application and headed out for my last visit with a gynecologist I had been seeing for a scary condition I won't discuss here! The main thing to know is that she could handle my anxiety without belittling my feelings. A welcome talent!
Once in the office, face to face with my physician, I realized that changing insurance meant leaving the person before me who had taken time to understand me and researched my rare condition. Suddenly I realized I was giving up something important, not just gaining a new health care system which sounded really good on paper.
My physician helped me tremendously when she made personal recommendations for gyn docs in who practiced with my new HMO. These were physicians she had worked with and personally recommended. Again, she had calmed my nerves. I realized how much I would miss her. As I drove home the thought of cancelling the new program went through my mind... but I didn't.
The membership card came in the mail and I called the new member phone number. I dreaded the thought of a call center employee (probably who had experience with a cable TV company call center or something) helping me with appointments and the transition. I was pleasantly surprised when an educated-sounding, skilled person helped me with appointments and even gave me tips on navigating their system (call the dental office at 6:30 am and ask if there were open appointments to get in fast).
I was in "the system." With appointments made, I filled the rest of my calendar with recreation and social events. I had to do this to balance out the dreaded medical appointments and reassure myself that I wasn't getting old.. not me!