I hung up the phone, frustrated and cursing the ease of cell phone buttons, wishing I had an old clunker I could just slam down.
"What's wrong?" Mike asked as he grabbed an apple.
"The stupid Clinic. I called before Judah's well-child visit to see if we could pay cash since I knew our insurance wouldn't cover it. I thought maybe it would be less expensive. The gal told me they would run it through insurance to get their 'contracted' rate, which would be less than what they would charge. Guess what? SHE LIED. Since our insurance doesn't cover that type of visit, they of course didn't have a contracted rate, so we have to pay the full amount. One hundred. Eighty. Dollars."
Mike let out a low whistle. "You paid it then?"
I sighed loudly. "Yes. I told them I was frustrated with it, and the guy said he would pass my frustrations along...there's nothing he can do. It just ... sucks." I sighed again and then said something I'd been thinking about for awhile. "Honey, we need a new pediatrician. We need to go somewhere where they are willing to work with us, as far as money goes. The Clinic is such a huge corporation and the individual doctors have no power over what is charged. I'm also frustrated with our level of care. The doctor was with Judah for five minutes; when I said I was worried about his speech he didn't even listen to him talk. We've just ... we've got to find something else. The baby is coming in less than two months and then we'll be spending a lot of time at the doctor. We need to find one who is more flexible."
"Well," Mike replied, "start asking around. I'm sure there's a doctor around here somewhere who isn't part of the clinic."
I could hear my phone ringing on the other side of the house. I walked as quickly as my large stomach would allow me to try and get to it in time.
"Hey, guess what?" Mike asked when I picked up.
"I just had to go to a 911 hang-up at a doctor's office. A naturopath. He's also a pediatrician. Cool, huh? They don't take our insurance but they do all their own billing and would be willing to work with us on a cash basis. Want to go meet him?"
It seemed to be an answer to prayer!
"Well...if he doesn't take our insurance what about all the visits that ARE covered by our insurance? We'd still have to pay out of pocket for those?" I asked.
"Well, I guess, yeah. But, it's worth a visit, right? It could honestly cost us less over all if we aren't dealing with deductibles and everything." He had a point.
"Well, I'd love to meet him. I'm so sick of the Clinic I'm willing to look into just about anything. I've got news too. I was checking out our bank statement, and the Clinic refunded us the $180. I thought that was weird so I called and the gal I talked to said that for some reason they'd refunded us, but they showed that we still owed them. She looked into it and it was some weird computer glitch. That first guy I'd talked to put in the notes that I was frustrated with their billing policy, and since the refund was their fault, they just wrote it off. We got the money for that appointment back!"
"Honey! That is so awesome!!" Mike replied. "Just one more sign that we are on the right track."
I waddled into the naturopath's office with Mike and our three children in tow. There was a playhouse in the waiting room, rows of books and the receptionist was very kind. She took us to a room with a desk where we were to wait for the doctor. "Just like the movies," I whispered to Mike.
The naturopath walked in and we introduced ourselves and explained our disappointment with the medical treatment we'd been receiving and also with the charges we were having to pay. I asked about his well child visit schedule.
The doctor leaned forward and said, "So, your midwife will do the first visit. I'm assuming you're doing a home birth, right?" I laughed out loud. I immediately realized how rude I was but the notion of home birth seemed laughable. I composed myself. "Uh...no. We are using an OB at the hospital."
"Oh," he said, looking disappointed. "I wish you would come in for another appointment just so I could talk to you about the benefits of home birth. But, you have to do what you are comfortable with."
He then went into how often he likes to see children, as well as how he felt about vaccines.
"I also strongly discourage sugar and television."
"Oh, right of course..." Mike and I nodded in agreement. I hoped the suckers I had in my purse hadn't been poking out and thought of the Fruity Pebbles we had given the kids for breakfast while they watched Curious George on PBS. "Sugar and TV ... yuck." I tried not to make eye contact with Mike.
"Well," the doctor said standing up, "you are welcome to make an appointment if you'd like. We'll be more than happy to work with you on a sliding scale if you're paying cash. Hopefully we'll see you again." With that he walked out the door and we went back to the waiting room.
In the car Mike and I talked about the pros and cons of the visit. As much as I liked his natural approach I didn't want to feel guilty every time I gave my kids sweets. I also knew we wanted our children vaccinated, even if it was on a delayed schedule, and I didn't want to be reprimanded for that decision. I knew he wasn't going to be the doctor for us, but I also knew we wouldn't go back to the other doctor, which left us back where we started.
"Funny what he said about home birth, huh?" Mike said, noticing I had become quiet.
"Yeah ... funny."
I was quiet for a few minutes before Mike broke the silence. "Funny, but you're thinking about it now, aren't you?"
"Oh no. Well, not really. It's just, I know Dr. N is going to induce me, which I don't want. And I know if he doesn't, and I'm not at the hospital, that my labor may go so fast I won't make it to the hospital, and then I have the baby in the car, which...thankfully we have leather seats, but really? Not my favorite idea."
"I can't believe you're actually considering this."
"I didn't say that. I just mean it makes sense. A little." I paused. "Oh please. Can you even imagine? Me? Having a baby at home? I'm so sure."
"That's the thing, honey," Mike said lovingly. "I think you are so sure. You just don't know it yet."
"Hi, my husband and I were in there yesterday? Yeah. Um...the doctor mentioned that he had a midwifery clinic that he recommended? Yeah? Can I get that number, please?"
To be continued...
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