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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2011 6 years ago


The first words out of your mouth anytime anyone prescribes anything are, "Is it out of network?"
by: Chris Jepson Staff Writer

You can feel good and not be. It’s one of life’s little ironies. It is.

Last Thursday, an hour before a scheduled luncheon with my good buddy, Nancy, I was informed that I required surgery to excise cancer from my neck, of all places. Nancy, just back from upstate New York, had a stack of books to return to me. One was Nora Ephron’s “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” I almost laughed out loud. This had me immediately wondering if it was irony or mere coincidence that on the day of my diagnosis such a book, on loan, returns like the proverbial bad penny. Haha. Too funny.

I hadn’t anticipated that what ailed me was cancer because I had been told (over the phone) that my biopsy had come back as inconclusive. This had peeved me to no end. I expect nebulous results from “scans,” but stick a needle in and extract that pound of “flesh” and, well, how much more of me is required to determine the facts of the “matter”?

One of the aspirations was, indeed, inconclusive, the other, however, was thyroid cancer (very treatable). The doctor (my fourth) giving me the news said I wasn’t told because, “We like to tell patients such news in person.” Such a comfort.

And what, Chris, were you thinking when you first heard the news? My mind had raced to a joke in the “The New Yorker” from years ago. It shows a chap stripped down to the waist, facing forward with both of his hands on the wall (like a criminal standing before a police car). Discreetly behind him is the stereotypical physician, stethoscope around the neck, and he’s holding a set of pincers and he’s deftly, delicately extracting the man’s wallet from his back pants pocket. The punch line has the doctor asking the patient, “Does it hurt now?” Haha.

I’ve reached my exalted age without ever having availed myself of medical insurance. As a result, I am somewhat of a neophyte when it comes to the arcane practices of securing health care. I begrudgingly have medical insurance only because my wife insisted. And I mean, insisted. (Yes dear, you were right.) The insurance I have means that I won’t lose my home in order to have medical treatment. But let’s briefly discuss the deductible.

OK kids, what are the first words out of your mouth when you’ve been told you’re cancerous? When you’re prescribed yet another diagnostic test or procedure? You might reasonably ask, “Is it necessary?” Or, “What will we learn?” Or, “Are there any downsides or side affects?” Or, “What will it cost?” Haha! That’s a real funny one. What will it cost?

Jepson is a 24-year resident of Florida. He’s fiscally conservative, socially liberal, likes art and embraces diversity of opinion. Reach him at [email protected]

No, the first words out of your mouth anytime anyone prescribes anything are, “Is it out of network?” I learned this the hard way — $1,600 to be exact. My biopsy was unnecessarily out-of-network, and it will cost me that amount because my insurance company doesn’t pay for such out-of-network procedures. I didn’t think to ask. Not only that, but it doesn’t apply to my deductible. Haha.

My more conservative readers know unequivocally that I am a dumber-than-a-box-of-rocks liberal. Just how dumb is Jepson? Well, I just answered that question for them.

“Hello! Anybody home? Think, McFly. Think.”

Two tattoos for your chest, kids. “DNR” over your heart and “Is it in network?” on the right.

Sound medical advice and free.


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