Oct 23, 2013

How Group Health Cooperative lost me as a customer

Do you read the paperwork they give you after a doctor visit or after getting a vaccine?  Really?  EVERY TIME? 

No, you don't <smile>.

Please start.  Now and forever... I know I will because if I hadn't read the paperwork I received after my first round of shots last week (see two posts ago), AND I got bit by rabid animal any time in the future, it would most likely kill me—even if I'd had all the shots!!! Think I'm being maybe just a bit over-dramatic? Read what the CDC has to say about rabies.


On October 14, I got four shots and a bunch of pills in preparation for this adventure. One of the shots was the first of a three-step rabies vaccine and another was the first of the two-course Japanese encephalitis vaccine. 

A number of people have asked why I'm spending $972 for rabies prevention. The answer if fairly simple—I'm going to be out in the toolies and if I get bit by ANYTHING bigger than a mosquito (see Japanese encephalitis), I want to know that I'm well on the way to avoiding rabies. I'll bet that if I got bit without effective vaccines on-board, I'd probably pay a hell of a lot more than $972 to prevent rabies.  It's like insurance... you don't need it 'til you need it and if you do have it somehow the universe usually decides to fuck with someone else instead.


The problem is, that after the first round of shots, the nurse told me to come back in two weeks for rabies shot #2 and two weeks after that for both rabies shot #3 and Je shot #2. When I said I'd be out-of-town in four weeks and asked if it'd be okay to come in four weeks after the second shot, she said, "Yes, no problem."


The rabies paperwork that this same nurse gave me and that I almost didn't read (and that she apparently didn't read either) says,

The nurse told me it would be okay to get
Dose 2: 14 days after Dose 1
Dose 3: 42 days after Dose 1

According to the CDC, missing their schedule by even one day can compromise the protection and result in not having the antibodies you'll need if you get bit...and the nurse told me it would be okay if I missed by 7 and 14 days.  

I guess my question is, "How the hell can a medical professional give such wrong information and thereby possibly compromise the patient's life?" Or, if you prefer, "WTF?"
The good news is that I caught it, got the second shot on the 21st, and have the final shots scheduled on November 11thday 28... so I will have the protection I need and paid for.

The bad news is that when I called GHC and complained about this, they told me they had talked to the nurse in question and she said (paraphrasing here) that she was "just a fill-in" and should probably know more before answering questions.  Ya think?

Like many of you, I'm currently evaluating health plans for next year under the ACA.  Until this happened, I was probably going to spend a little more each month to stay with Group Health; in part because I've been taken care of relatively well until now and in part because it would mean a smooth transition.  Does it make sense that I'm seriously re-evaluating? (Update: I'm definitely going with Premera Blue Cross, NOT Group Health.)

Bottom line... it's up to us to stay informed and take care of ourselves.  DO NOT TRUST what the "professionals" tell you—they may just be making it up as they go.

I dodged this particular bullet.  Make sure it misses you, too. 

Read the flippin' paperwork!

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