Underused my health insurance, dagnabit

I get a $1000 per calendar year allowance for MRIs, but I could not get an answer out of ANYONE how much the radiology facility would be paid for one. I needed two: cervical and thoracic spine. I spoke to my insurance company, the pre-cert company, the union I have my insurance through, my neurologist, my chiropractor, the radiology billing department and my mom (who does bookkeeping for a chiropractor). Most didn’t want to give me so much as a ballpark figure, and the others (mom, chiro, neuro) all said that I’d use up most of the allowance with one MRI. So I only had my cervical spine done and figured that if it didn’t show anything helpful, I’d get my thoracic spine done in 2009.

Well, I got my Statement of Benefits today…the “official fee” was $1200, but the agreed insurance arrangement was $440. DAMN IT – I could have had both parts of my spine done in 2008 and then my shoulders in 2009 if I still got no useful diagnosis. Ooo, I hate when I mess this sort of thing up!

To tie up loose ends…the MRI and EMG (most godawful scream-inducing diagnostic test ever invented – seriously, more suitable to Gitmo inmates!) didn’t find the source of my pain. I wake up every morning with a very stiff, sore neck; there has been a mild tingling in my left pinky and ring finger for about 9 months; and the range of motion in my left shoulder is increasingly limited. All the tests taught me were that I had a little osteoarthritis in the lower half of my neck (which explains the stiffness, but not the other stuff), and a borderline diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand/wrist (which I’d noticed developing a few years ago and took measures to reverse it – successfully, I might add). 

I’m almost afraid of what an MRI of my thoracic spine (from the knob at the bottom of your neck to about the bottom of your shoulder blades – 12 vertebrae) will show. I’ve had a lot of problems with T1-T7 since 1993. I’m also thinking that the best solutions are probably in alternative medicine, but I’m not sure where to start. Maybe I’ll just stick to our western ways and get stoned on prescription muscle relaxants every night. Now where did I tuck that scrip…

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5 Responses

  1. Nothing worse than insurance red tape on top of back problems to add insult to injury.

  2. When I called my insurance company to ask what the negotiated rate was, they refused to give me that information! Unbelievable. And wasn’t lack of transparency what got us into this economic mess? Sorry to rant in your comment space.

  3. Shtink, rant all you want – that’s what I did! And it’s somewhat comforting to know that it’s not my own incompetence at handling this sort of thing. It’s theirs, but we suffer for it. Snarrrrrrl.

  4. Our health system makes no sense, the lack of transparency drives up the cost for everyone.

    They messed up when they put me together on the assembly line, so I know what you feel like. Carpal tunnel won’t cause the pinky tingling, cubital tunnel will. Same problem, different location and nerve bundle. Do you rest your elbows on hard surfaces or sleep with your arm bent? That could set it off, I’ve got bilateral carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome. Ring finger could be carpal tunnel, thumb, ring finger and the fleshy palm of your hand are in one nerve bundle passing through the carpal tunnel.

  5. Well, the EMG (nerve test) didn’t show any tunnel syndromes on the side that’s bothering me. Last time I had this problem (same side), it was from riding a mountain bike for 60 miles with the handlebars at the wrong height. I got it fixed by an osteopath in the UK, who gave the back of my elbow a sharp smack – the tingling ceased within 48 hours.

    I’ll look up that cubital thing and see if I’ve got anything in my bag of tricks that might help. The problem with learning Thai massage is that they never tell you what fixes what – gotta figure it out on my own.

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