Desperately need advice, if you will! a.k.a. "No health insurance but need a doc!"

  1. My husband is not under my health insurance currently (new job, screwed up, long story). This won't be an option until next November. He's been basically unemployed since he needed back surgery years ago, and has been attending school and taking care of me.

    I'm trying to remain positive here, but I'm near my breaking point, really.

    He is suddenly having terrible pain in his back and leg. Long story short: We need to get him to a doctor.

    Problem?

    His former neurosurgeon/neuro clinic is private- I'm assuming you can't just go to a private MD and say "Bill me, please", right? I mean, am I wrong here? They're not going to treat him unless we pay upfront? (Which we can't do.)

    We have spent two days, for a total of 17 hours, in a local public (i.e., for the uninsured) ER and now his back is SINGING and we STILL haven't been seen! We were triaged today and then had to wait SIX hours alone just to have our paperwork done and get registered in the computer. Then they never called us because they were so busy (big ER; we're little fish in there with apparantly meager complaints- I do understand this, I'm an RN, but it's frustrating when you can't get care!). He ended up weeping out on the sidewalk and insisting that we go home so he can lie down. Two days. No doctor. Still in pain.

    WHAT THE HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO HERE?

    I'm at a loss. There is a possibility he needs surgery again. I'm scared and confused and I don't know what to do. Any ideas? We don't qualify for Medicare or anything (I make too much, he makes nothing- screwed up, isn't it?).

    I don't know.

    Anything would be nice at this point.

    Thanks.
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   SnowymtnRN
    OMG! Bless his heart! FIRST, what i would do is call his private doctor's office, he's a return patient so that goes in your favor. TELL THEM he doesn't have insurance, so he's going to have to pay out of pocket, and finances are tight. I'd bet anything since he's a previous patient, they will work with him. Then make payment arrangements if need be to get him some treatment. I know its SO stressful (don't get me started on our insurance. :uhoh21: )

    I'd try another hospital too. Go to one that's a not for profit hospital, heck even call ahead of time to get a feel for how long the wait in the ER might be.

    I'm so sorry he's in such pain! I hope he can get some relief soon!!!
  4. by   RNPATL
    Quote from NICU_Nurse
    My husband is not under my health insurance currently (new job, screwed up, long story). This won't be an option until next November. He's been basically unemployed since he needed back surgery years ago, and has been attending school and taking care of me.

    I'm trying to remain positive here, but I'm near my breaking point, really.

    He is suddenly having terrible pain in his back and leg. Long story short: We need to get him to a doctor.

    Problem?

    His former neurosurgeon/neuro clinic is private- I'm assuming you can't just go to a private MD and say "Bill me, please", right? I mean, am I wrong here? They're not going to treat him unless we pay upfront? (Which we can't do.)

    We have spent two days, for a total of 17 hours, in a local public (i.e., for the uninsured) ER and now his back is SINGING and we STILL haven't been seen! We were triaged today and then had to wait SIX hours alone just to have our paperwork done and get registered in the computer. Then they never called us because they were so busy (big ER; we're little fish in there with apparantly meager complaints- I do understand this, I'm an RN, but it's frustrating when you can't get care!). He ended up weeping out on the sidewalk and insisting that we go home so he can lie down. Two days. No doctor. Still in pain.

    WHAT THE HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO HERE?

    I'm at a loss. There is a possibility he needs surgery again. I'm scared and confused and I don't know what to do. Any ideas? We don't qualify for Medicare or anything (I make too much, he makes nothing- screwed up, isn't it?).

    I don't know.

    Anything would be nice at this point.

    Thanks.
    I am really sorry your husband and you are going through such a rough time. The first step is to take a deep breath and gather yourself. That is easier said than done when you are living with someone in that much pain. Are there other hospital options in your area? Perhaps a smaller hospital where the wait in the ER would not be so long? That is one consideration. Don't worry about the money, ER's must treat a patient with or without insurance or a method to pay. The first priority is to get him back to the hospital so at a minimum his pain can be treated.

    As far as financial help with the bills, there are some charities that do help people in your situatuion. They are few and far between, but they are out there. Check with your local social service referral agency and see if they can direct you.

    Has your husband applied for social security disability? It sounds, from your description, that his back issues are debilitating. Is this the case? If so, I would go to social security and get an application for disability. Once he is approved, he would qualify for a number of different programs that would with pay for his medical care or at least defray some of the costs.

    Keep your head up, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are here to support you. Take good care of yourself too.
  5. by   Shed13911
    Boy, have I been where you are! I had an accident 3 years ago when I was rear ended by an 18-wheeler. I had severe back damage. I had to have the first surgery 3 months after the accident. 3 months later, my job terminated me because I could not return to work so I lost my medical insurance. Unfortunatly, the first surgery did not fix the problem and I needed a second surgery. To make a long story short, I had to wait for nearly 9 months in horrible pain because the doctors/hospital wanted me to come up with $40,000 before they would schedule my surgery. I had to borrow the money. I had applied for Social Security disability but it took 3 years for them to finally pay out. You may need to get a lawyer for that if you want a quicker judgement. For me, even though I was a single mother, I was denied Medicaid too because I owned my own car! That was the only reason I was denied that. I went through so much pain, both emotional and physically, because of the run around I got from every agency I applied to for help. I felt like what was I paying taxes for if no one would help me when I needed the help the most?? More than likely, I have some nerve damage in my legs due to the delay in the second surgery because the nerves were pinched for so long. Apply to as many agencies as you can so that maybe someone will help you. Apply for the SS now so you can get that going too. Do not delay medical care because the pain certainly indicates there is at least inflamation. Good luck to you, I will keep you in my prayers!!
    Last edit by Shed13911 on Feb 28, '04
  6. by   fiestynurse
    Contact his former neurosurgeon and explain the situation to him. If he is unable to see your husband, atleast he can point you in the right direction.

    Good Luck!
  7. by   Havin' A Party!
    Quote from SnowymtnRN
    ...FIRST, what i would do is call his private doctor's office, he's a return patient so that goes in your favor. TELL THEM he doesn't have insurance, so he's going to have to pay out of pocket, and finances are tight. I'd bet anything since he's a previous patient, they will work with him. Then make payment arrangements if need be to get him some treatment...
    Agree this is the way to go right now.

    Another issue for a later time: that he's been without insurance coverage for a period and that the back prob's are pre-existing conditions. Just mentioning it here to assist in the future planning of your options.

    All the best to you and your hubby in this difficult situation. Please try to tackle one thing at a time.
  8. by   nurseygrrl
    Wishing you and your husband the best. I am so sorry for you both that you have to go through this. Are there any clinics in your county where you can pay on a sliding scale depending on your salary? I know we have them here in NY. Also, contact your department of social services. They may be able to point you in the right direction. Other posters have given very good advice about applying for disability and calling your husband's former doctor. Is there any way you can add him to your insurance? Maybe you can speak with your employer and explain the situation.
  9. by   traumaRUs
    At the not-for-profit hospital where I work, we have a charity program - all you have to do is ask! Please continue to try and I wish you both the best of luck. Take care...
  10. by   MaleAPRN
    I'm sorry to hear about your husband's back problem. Working in ER myself, I sympathize with you...as I see patients in similar situations. My advice is to go to a non-for profit ER to get immediate pain management for your husband. It's not that I am trying to promote this "revolving" door mentality...but, it's one way of getting treated for pain ASAP. Go EARLY to the ER. Try to even go at around 2 or 3 am which is normally the less busiest times for ERs.

    You can also inquire about purchasing your own medical insurace coverage for your husband. I don't know how it is there in your city, but, in California, there are options for buying "extra" coverage for a partner. It may be expensive, but, it seems only temporary in your case, since you said, you'll be getting insurance in November?

    Take care.
  11. by   moonchild20002000
    In Virginia you can apply for something called "State and local hospital funds".
    They will pay a hospital bill.I think all hospitals have to participate in this because it has to do with the hospital accecpting federal funds.
    I know those funds can be used to pay for ER doc fees as well as the hospital bill.
    If you contact your health department they can also send you paperwork to apply,it will then cover services at the health department.

    I know some private MD's will take care of a pt without a lot of money upfront,you just need to call the neurosurgeon.

    I live about 40 minutes from you so if you need more info just PM me if you want.
    Good luck .

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