Here's a little rant for all those who don't know anything about TRICARE, better known as Humana Military health insurance.
I am a military spouse, which means I'm a dependent. Now, in recent years, the military has made strides to appear more family friendly. Used to be they didn't give 2 craps about the ones left behind when the soldiers went to war. Things started to change when mental health came into the forefront. Now the government tries to put on a good face and pretend they care about us dependents. But let me tell you about our pathetic idea of health care.
For the most part, yes, it is free. For the medical portion, as long as you are enrolled in Tricare Prime. Prime means they tell you who you can see, when you can see them, where, and what your benefits are. If you step outside your limits, you get slapped with a 100% bill. Okay, so, that means I have to see the on-base clinic which is staffed by no doctors 95% of the time. It's all nurses or medical techs.
I hurt my back in 2014. Badly. I went in to the nurse and begged for help because I could hardly walk. They assigned me physical therapy. 16 sessions that did nothing but made me worse. In 2015 my back got worse but I refused to see the clinic because I wasn't going back to therapy. I knew I had bulging discs which therapy will only aggravate. Last year, at Easter, I tweaked my back so badly I ended up in the ER. I couldn't breathe it was so bad. They made me see the on-base clinic. I told the nurse I needed an MRI because x-rays were a waste of money. They weren't going to show disc issues. I was told, to my face, "we don't usually prescribe MRI's for episodes like this." Excuse me, this isn't an episode. It's been an ongoing problem for 2+ years. The issue? They rotate nurses so I never have the same primary care manager for more than 3 months at a time. So of course to her I'm just seeking drugs and bitchinf about a back ache. But I refused to budge until I got my scan.
MRI scans are done at the VA hospital. So it took another 3 weeks to get it done. And looki3, 2 bulging discs AND arthritis in my spine. I was sent to pain management where after a few failed spinal shots, I was given a nerve burn that, miracle of miracles, fixed my back.
So, that's brought us to THIS MOMENT. Last month I fell down and reinjured that damn spot on my lower spine. So I called my pain management doctor and had them put in for a referral. Here's where I want everyone to know how shitty they treat spouses in the military. TRICARE never got back to my doctor. 3 weeks after the request I got a letter in the mail saying here's your authorization number, so I call the pain clinic like wtf. They never got a damn thing from my insurance. 3 weeks I was in so much pain I could hardly walk. So now they have the proof they can see me. NOW they have to get permission to do the actual nerve burn. They put in that request. DAYS GO BY. Nothing happens. I finally call TRICARE myself. They claim their information is incomplete. My doctor says they have no idea what Tricare is even talking about because they never received any more requests. The procedure request was submitted on the 31st of May. It wasn't until last Thursday that Tricare decided to say something. They called up saying they needed my MRI report from LAST YEAR. 10 days they say around while I cannot walk. I called them twice and nobody had any answers for me. In fact one stupid woman told me their system doesn't make mistakes, it's clearly on my doctor if things aren't happening. And then she hung up on me.
Today my doctor called to cancel the appointment we already had scheduled because Tricare refused to give them an authorization, despite now having the MRI and everything else they have demanded. I began to cry. My right leg is on fire and I have back spasms. So I call TRICARE. And I demand to speak to supervisor because I want to file a formal complaint. I have been ignored and even hung up on by the customer care line and I have had it. Want to know what happened? The supervisor told me the nurses (The ones that decide who lives and who dies) are reviewing my case and she will see if they have made a decision yet. Then she hung up on me.
My husband deploys in a couple of weeks, the pain management office is usually books weeks out, and the procedure knocks me out for an entire day. I can't take care of my own child, I can't even feed my damn dog because I can't bend down. It's been 2 months of pain. And I have been told twice that "it's under review." Today I was even told "if it's so urgent why didn't your doctor send us the MRI sooner?" Well, because nobody knew you needed It! And you waited 10 days to ask!
I don't usually bitch to civilians about military life but I want others to realize that this is the shit we deal with. If I had private insurance, I would have dealt with this a long time ago. I would have taken my tax money and gotten surgery. I cannot even go to the ER for relief because they aren't allowed to help me. All they can do is give me some ibuprofen.
We get what we pay for. And since we pay nothing, that's pretty much what we get. I can't even go talk to a human being because they took away the Tricare rep from the clinic. Now everything is handled over the phone. Everything.
Hanging up on you is just a bonus, I suppose. When the woman is crying because she cannot walk, and you hang up on her, you are a heartless asshole. I believe there is a special place in Hell for Tricare.