May 17, 2012

Just another story about how government increases health care costs.

I have a bad back, a very bad back.  I need surgery but frankly I’m too young for back surgery and will avoid it for as long as possible.  Pain is a constant problem and I’ve been relying on radial frequency procedures for several years to get by.
For those unaware with radial frequency my pain doc identified the nerve clusters in my spine that were giving me the most problems.  They take a needle, align it to the right spot with an x-ray machine then heat the needle to burn off the nerves.  Painful procedure but you can gain significant relief from pain over a period of one to two years until the nerves regenerate.
I’ve had two of these procedures and am ready for my third.
Before the first r.f. they did a couple of procedures called medial branch blocks.  In this process they numb the suspected nerves to make sure they are in the correct spot before burning the nerves.  (Makes sense).
When my first radial frequency wore off I was just able to call and simply schedule a new procedure.
Now that it is time for my third procedure the rules have changed.  I was required to do an office visit and have two more branch blocks before I can have another radial frequency procedure.
This process adds two procedures in the operating room with a big staff, (doctor and 4 or 5 nurses) plus an additional office visit.  In short, LOTS MORE MONEY, AND LOTS MORE TIME IN PAIN!  (Adds at least three weeks until the actual procedure can be done.)
When I asked my Doctor about the policy change he told me it was due to Medicare.  Medicare?  Yes, Medicare.
Medicare started mandating two branch blocks before every radial frequency, even in the case of repeated procedures.  And then what Medicare does the private insurers wind up doing as well.
So there you have it, a relatively simple procedure made more difficult with much more added expense causing physical and financial pain brought to you by a government run health care program.
Thanks for nothing.

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