“Doc, I went to the Doc-In-A-Box a few months ago with a sinus infection. They did a chest X-ray then gave me some sort of antibiotic and a cough syrup and something else I don’t even remember.” He shifted uncomfortably, as if he felt like he had been cheating on me. “Then I went a couple of months ago for abdominal pain. I had to do a CT scan but that was negative. They did a bunch of blood work. I don’t know what all they checked but they told me it was fine. The pain never went away, though.”
“Wait. Did you call here for an appointment?” Did my staff turn him away?
“Nah. My employer says I can’t see you except for my yearly physical. I have to go to a Doc-In-A-Box for anything else or it won’t be covered at all.”
Unfortunately, this was not the first time I had heard such a thing this year. It is sold under the guise of convenience. I argued with the first patient. How could this be possible? Was it in writing? I asked her to bring in the documentation. I really wanted to see how it was worded, maybe she just didn’t understand?
She never did.
Another variation is requiring employees to use the company’s approved teledoc services instead of calling their primary care physician. I handle stuff on the phone all the time for patients. It is safer to seek care from someone who has access to your medical records. Employers, however, like for you to never leave your desk…
All of this leaves me wondering, when did we relinquish so much control over our healthcare to our employers?
“So, now that I am here for my physical, I was wondering if you can help me with this abdominal pain that I am still having. Lots of constipation. It’s getting worse. Now my stools are dark black, and I am losing weight…”
I have yet to see official documentation of policies denying patients care with their PCP. The key is that even if there is not, employees think there is. Ultimately, in the erosion of the physician/patient relationship, who gets hurt?
Way to go corporate America.