Answer: I still don’t know!
I will be traveling by air next week, and I need a portable oxygen concentrator plus an extra battery pack to last the duration of the flight, getting through airports, and any possible delays. I started the process 2 weeks ago. After some 30 hours of effort, I still do not have the equipment. As I write this, it is Friday, Aug 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm. As soon as I got confirmation of the trip, I began my process of getting the equipment, knowing all too well how lengthy the process can be, and the provider’s penchant for messing up the order or delivering an incomplete or incorrect order. My departure flight is for Aug 16. And so the countdown begins.
Here is a quick (and I do mean quick) breakdown of what I have done so far.
Friday, July 24: Confirmed the travel plans. Called provider to ask for portable oxygen concentrator plus battery. They told me I need a doctor’s order. Called pulmonology office and left message.
Monday, July 27: Pulmonology office called back. Doctor requires me to do a respirometry test and flight simulation test for breathing and oxygen saturation level before writing the order–earliest appointment is Friday, July 31.
Friday, July 31: Complete the tests. Doctor submits a scrip to the provider specifying a Sequal Eclipse and extra battery that is required. Further states that all this is medically necessary, and provides me with copies of paperwork, including a letter for FAA purposes. I get a call in the afternoon from provider telling me that the battery is not covered. Ooh, what a surprise! Why do you think the doctor specifically ordered it and wrote that it is medically necessary? Did some accountant or administrator determine that I required oxygen for only three quarters of the flight? The standard answer was that extra batteries were not in the contract with the insurance company.
Monday, August 3: I called the insurance company. Always a joy! Every time I call, it takes 20 to 30 minutes just to get to a live person, who gets 10 minutes into the conversation, only to inform me that I am talking to the wrong department. After much stress, I finally get an agent in the right department (maybe). She tells me that I need the order with the right codes to come from my primary. Ok, new task for me. After spending hours wasting time on hold and in menu queues with Humana, I now have to get my primary doctor to send the same info that the pulmonologist already sent. And the doctor’s office is closed by now.
Tuesday, August 4: I go in person to the doctor’s office. I know if I see my primary doctor, she will help. But I have to get through the gatekeepers. The first gatekeeper sends me to the Concierge person (read: second gatekeeper). I wield my sword of paperwork and doctors orders from the pulmonologists and explain what I need. I explain why I need the extra battery and the urgency since I will be traveling next week and need the equipment to be able to travel. She informs me that she is just a nurse and cannot do any of this. She kindly offers to make an appointment with doctor for the earliest opening…next week. Yeah, go ahead make that face with the stare of incredulity, I did. Trying to be polite, I said, “Let me try this again. I am traveling next week and need the equipment to travel.” OK, shake your head and get ready to make another face. She then asks if I would like to make an appointment when I return. It took all I had not to reach across the window and smack her. After biting my tongue…a few times, I asked her to please go and ask the doctor if she will see me today. I have no problem waiting all afternoon if necessary. Finally, I broke through the gate. Yeah, SHOUTS AND TRUMPETS!
August 4 Continued: My doctor is fabulous. I knew that if asked, she would see me. She did all that I asked, wrote up the order, submitted everything along with the orders and paperwork from the pulmonologist. Then she walked me to the referral clerk. The clerk then processes all the info and submits an authorization to the provider and enters into the Humana system. She assures that everything is complete and I will have no problems now getting the equipment. I assure her that she could not be further from the truth on this. I know from previous experience. I get home and call Humana. A lot more time getting though the menu system and being bounced from department to department. After an hour, I finally get a person who seems to know some things. She tells me the authorization is missing the codes for the extra battery. She tries to push it off to the provider or the primary doctor, tells me they must submit the codes. I tell her the referral agent looked for battery codes and could not find any. The provider is useless. She hemmed and hawed (cannot believe I just used that expression…sounds like my 8th grade English teacher), but I finally convinced her (almost had to threaten her) to give me the codes. Really, she knows them, but will not write them in, knowing that the both doctors have written in the necessity for an extra battery.
Wednesday, August 5: I go in person again to the primary doctor’s office. I want to speak directly with the referral clerk to give her the extra-battery codes. She assures me she will take care of it today. Late afternoon, I call Humana. Codes not in yet. Humana agent does a three way call and gets clerk on the phone. Walks her through entering the codes.
Thursday, August 6: Talk to several reps at the provider. Their first response is that they do not see any order pending. After some strained conversation, they find the pending order right where is should be. Cannot find the codes. Then they find the codes. Order has not been processed yet. Well what are you waiting for. I try to get a supervisor, but to no avail. They will call me. Yeah right!
Friday, August 7: Provider called this morning and left a message. I called back and they cannot connect me with the department that processes the order. I spoke to several other people who basically cannot tell me anything or do anything. So far the best I got is that the rep put a request on the order to process the order and that I may get the equipment as early as Monday. So committal. I said that was not acceptable. I am leaving next week, and I need to know that it will definitely be here no later than Monday, not maybe as early as Monday. He asked me what day I was leaving, but I told him that was irrelevant, because here is usually what happens when they have delivered this in the past. The order is incomplete, missing the battery, and the plug to charge the battery was for a completely different piece of equipment. I need to know that I have another couple of days to get the order correct after the initial delivery.
So Here I am. It is now 5:00 pm, and I still don’t know if my equipment will arrive on Monday. This was quick, because the reality of it is that so far, this has taken 2 weeks, and some 25 to 30 hours of my time to get to this point of uncertainty, 1 week before I travel. Can you say STRESS! Actually I am not stressed about it. I have a peace knowing that all things work for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28). And I know that God will pull out all the stops and take down the obstacles. Every time we make this trip for my adult stem cells, the enemy throws down road blocks everywhere to stop us. And so far this trip is no exception. But none have come close to the first trip we took in the spring of 2011. I see the hand of God in all of this. Just like in that first trip, God paints a path right though enemy lines with his finger. All we have to do is stay plugged into the Holy Spirit and follow His leading and we have victory.
Note: I am in the process of writing about the journey in 2011. Looking back, I cannot believe we made that trip and that I survived it. But that first adult stem-cell treatment brought me back from the dead. I will post that account soon.