I've had the same doctor for all my (ahem) womanly concerns for ten years now ever since we moved back to Anchorage. I've never had an all-around family doctor because my kids go to a pediatrician, I go to an OB/GYN and my husband doesn't get sick. BUT . . . all that's about to change.
You see, among all my good/bad qualities is a tendency to be pretty loyal. If you're nice to me, smile once in a while, deliver one or two or three of my babies, maybe save my life in childbirth, then I'm yours forever and the doctor I've been going to for lo these ten years has kept up his part of the bargain. In fact, he's done it so well I made the fatal error of recommending him to friends and family who were also in the reproduction/motherhood business.
Whenever anyone asked me who I saw I gave them his name without hesitation then raved about how I could get in to see him whenever I needed to, how I loved his staff, how he delivered all his own babies rather than putting someone else on call and how he was downright competent with that catcher's mitt when it came time for delivering a baby.
But slowly I've noticed an insidious trend: more and more of my friends began turning up on his list of patients. In fact everyone I know, with only one or two exceptions, now sees this guy and hanging out in his waiting area is more like attending a church function than visiting the doctor. In fact, I'd mention his name here but odds are you're already seeing him. And that, my friends, is when the problems began.
First, his prices went up. It used to be something like $90-100 for an annual exam but suddenly it skyrocketed to $220--so high my insurance says it's beyond "reasonable and customary" and won't accept the bill. Dang! That gave me pause.
Then, it became harder and harder to get in to see him. I called back at the beginning of last December for an appointment and they couldn't get me in until January. When my appointment came up he was going to be in surgery so they called and rescheduled for the end of February. I just got a third call saying he's got surgery again and can I come instead in March? By the time I see him I could be menopausal.
I'm loyal, but I'm not that loyal.
Contrast this with the doctor I saw a few weeks ago. I needed a wart removed (yes, now you know all my dirty little secrets--this is the post where I bring up gynecologists and warts) so I found a dermatologist in the phone book and made an appointment.
When I showed up for my exam she took a quick look at the situation, made her assessment, then whipped out a sheet of paper with a written estimate of what it was going to cost me to have that nasty thing removed. Can you believe it? She said (and I quote):
"I'll give you this first treatment but you'll need to come back again. Today's visit will be $114 but when you come back you can make an appointment with my assistant and she can treat you. That way it will only cost you $60 for the return trip."
I was floored. My mouth dropped open and I wanted to kiss her right there. All the doctors I've seen in my life and I've never had money be a part of the conversation. In fact, if you call a doctor's office to find out the price of a procedure they don't know--instead they'll transfer you to the bowels of the accounts receivable office in the hospital catacombs wherein few souls dare to venture.
My only question to her was, "So, uh, how are you at delivering babies?"
Congratulations to jolt! and Sue Ferrell who have both won copies of Laura Childs' latest scrapbooking mystery Frill Kill. Happy reading folks!
And another congratulations to Paula of Marshfield, Massachusetts for winning this week's Saturday Giveaway. She's won the blue heart bowl from JDWolfePottery. Happy Valentine's Day!
Don't miss this month's Write-Away Contest, the topic is (of course) Love. Deadline is February 20th!
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