Jumping Through Hoops: The Stressful Process of Getting New Chronic Pain Relief Treatments
Insurance companies are one of the greatest frustrations a grown adult must face. They all claim to have your back, usually accompanied by a catchy commercial jingle, but finding an insurance company that actually covers your needs is rare (and expensive). And if you have a great job that provides insurance, you may not have any choice in the matter.
Even insurance terminology gets overwhelming. And while every insurance company has its own hoops to jump through, hopefully this quick article will help prepare you for the potential hurdles by giving you a couple tricks for navigating the insurance quagmire as easily as possible.
Hoop #1: The Insurance Company
Just thinking about the bill can make going to the doctor’s office extremely stressful. Even if you’re familiar with your policy, elusive conditions like chronic pain or exclusions to what new treatments are actually covered might cause an unexpected bill at the end of your visit.
And once the doctor visit is completed, you have to deal with the hassle of getting your prescription filled. Perhaps your policy covers physical therapy, but not the medication you need. Or maybe you were finally able to get the drug that works best for you, but after switching insurance companies you’re now required to try new chronic pain relief treatments you know aren’t going to work.
They might force you to first try physical therapy before covering a prescription. Or they may only cover certain painkillers and not the one you’ve learned works well with your body.
Hoop #2: The Physician
Sometimes, you might find yourself fighting not only your insurance company, but your doctor as well!
Generally speaking, your personal physician has your best interests at heart. However, they may also be getting visits from pharmaceutical sales representatives, giving incentives for your doctor to prescribe certain medications over others. Or maybe your physician has simply had better luck treating chronic pain with a certain approach, and they’re hesitant to trust your experience over their own.
This combined with the fact that certain insurance companies allow only some pain medications and not others, it may take some work to get access to the treatment you need. You may have to speak with your doctor multiple times or spend months trying meds you’ve never heard of before – or have tried in the past and know won’t work for you now. Whatever the reason for the delay, an inability to access new or proven chronic pain relief treatments could lead to some very painful months waiting for the drugs you know can help.
However difficult things might seem right now, you aren’t alone. The following tips won’t eliminate the frustration of dealing with your insurance company, but they may help reduce it.
Quick Tips for Navigating your Insurance
One thing is certain: insurance companies aren’t going to make it easy to get your medication covered. Here are a few initial pointers for working your way through the red tape so you can get access to the new chronic pain relief treatments you need.
Study Your Insurance Plan
Reading through your plan’s provided information isn’t fun, but knowing what’s covered will help you navigate any insurance company double-speak you receive. Alternatively, you can give your insurance company a call to speak with a representative.
However you “learn” about your plan, ask specific questions about the drugs you need (or prefer), and be sure to get exact answers regarding copays and deductibles. If you call, ask them to email a summary of the information they provided and/or direct you to the URL on their website where you can find the written answers they just provided over the phone.
Save this information, bookmark the URLs, and screenshot anything you think might change. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but evidence your provider will cover treatment is a lot like an umbrella: better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it.
Keep Your Records
It can be cathartic to throw out old insurance bills and records after treatment is received and covered. Resist that temptation! If it ever comes to the point that a dispute needs to be corrected, these written records can save you time, money, and a great deal of stress.
After most visits to a doctor’s office or pharmacy, we give the receptionist our insurance card and pay whatever it is we need to pay. We trust them to keep track of everything, especially when we’re already overwhelmed by the stress and craziness of our every-day lives.
However, for every visit or prescription refill, take a few minutes to follow-up! Check your bills, call your insurance company if needed to make sure your claims are being covered. If you do this after each doctor or pharmacy visit, it won’t take long, and it will allow you to (relatively) quickly solve any problems or miscommunications that may come up.
Seek Appeals for Every Denial
Despite their reassuring claims, insurance companies don’t want to pay out. And many aren’t above sending you a bill for services that should have been covered in hopes you’ll just shrug your shoulders and pay. If ever your insurance company fails to pay for a service or medication you expected them to cover, take the time to appeal.
It won’t work every time, but occasionally your insurance will reevaluate and you’ll end up being reimbursed for that new chronic pain relief treatment you needed. Besides, the worst they can say is “no.”
These tips aren’t a silver bullet for the insurance werewolf. But we hope they help you get the treatment you need, when you need it (and all with less stress).
And if you are tired of constantly fighting for every prescription, you may wish to consider cannabidiol (CBD) as a natural, widely available, and lower cost alternative. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of taking CBD, and remember that not all CBD brands are made with the same commitment to quality. If you do add CBD to your daily routine, take time to find a credible, lab-tested company you trust.