i battled the monster of health insurance bureaucracy today. if i didn't lose, it was at most a draw. it seems like a rigged contest where the patient never wins.

it all began because i switched my health insurance at the start of july. it took them almost a month to get me my insurance card (although to be fair, i could've called them and gotten the number beforehand). because i didn't pick a doctor when i signed up, they picked one for me, one out in waltham, that i couldn't easily get to via public transportation. 

so after some searching on their database, i finally found a doctor at MGH, specializing in cardiology. i called up the insurance company to let them know about my new choice. unfortunately i was picking from the wrong database, because i should've picked a doctor specializing in just primary care practice. 

after some more searching, i found a doctor affiliated with cambridge hospital, not too far from where i live (within walking distance). i called up the insurance company again with my new choice. "just make sure you call them to find out if they're taking new patients," the woman on the phone told me before i hang up. 

i called up the hospital to let them know i wanted to make an appointment. since i was a new patient, i was transferred to the registration department to get my relevant info, before transferring back to the hospital. "the next opening for your doctor is sometime in december," the receptionist told me. "december?" i repeated, figuring i must not have heard her right. "yeah, december." i told her i didn't care which doctor i got then, that the first available will do. "all doctors are booked until december. i might be able to get you to see a residency student at the end of the month." i couldn't believe it. what's the point of having health insurance if i can't even make an appointment until the end of the year? she suggested i could try the cambridge health alliance (CHA) number, they might have available doctors at other hospitals or clinics. 

so i called the CHA number, and told the woman my predicament. she laughed. "they can get you an appointment for august? take it! i can't get you one until september at the earliest." she told me there was a country wide lack of qualified primary care doctors. her lecture wasn't going to help me. i hung up and decided to keep on looking, maybe a doctor not affiliated with CHA would be more available. 

i tried harvard vanguard on cambridge street. i used them one year a while back when i was bouncing around from insurance to insurance. i learned my lesson and called them first. they could fit me in for an appointment, and i'd only have to wait 2 weeks. the receptionist then transferred me to their registration department to update my insurance information. "unfortunately, harvard vanguard is no longer affiliated with your insurance company," the woman told me. she transferred me back to the receptionist so i could cancel my appointment.

by then i'd already been on the phone for more than an hour. dejected, i called back cambridge hospital and told them i'd take the end of august appointment with a residency student. i still had to call my insurance company to let them know i changed my primary care provider. even though i already paid for 2 months of health insurance, it feels like my coverage doesn't exactly begin until 3 months later.

as if i didn't have enough fun today, but i think tomorrow i'm going to make a few more calls to other hospitals, see if they have doctors available in their internal medicine departments. something about cambridge hospital just doesn't feel right. nobody should have to wait almost half a year to schedule a doctor's appointment. 

a day of suck continued when i heard the boston celtics had signed shaquille o'neal to a 2 year deal. i *hate* shaq. i think he doesn't have any talent and the only reason why he was successful in the NBA was because he was big. having shaq on the team could very well ruin the player chemistry. i might be able to tolerate him if the celtics win the championship next year, but otherwise i will blame shaq for everything. at least boston is getting shaq for a bargain (a million a year), since every other team has passed up on this aging mentally-deficient giant.

cherries have a laxative effect when you eat too many. i found that out the hard way when i finished a whole bag of cherries but then spent the rest of the evening feeling gassy and going to the bathroom. the cheesy leftover lasagna for dinner didn't help the situation either.