Monday, January 31, 2011

100 steps a pregnant foreigner has to take to get Insurance and have a baby in a hospital: Part 1

I have an urge to listen to hard punk rock and punch a punching bag or throw things. But I'll write this post instead as a way to vent.

Steps a pregnant foreigner (who has the help of someone who speaks fluent Czech) has to take to get insurance. (If you don't have help - don't even try. It's impossible because 1. The people at the foreign insurance office don't speak English. 2. Secretaries for doctors don't speak English - so finding a doctor and setting up appointments are impossible.)

1. Find out what options there are.
2. If you want the insurance to cover the birthing process there really is only one option: VZP
3. Make sure you can pay $3000 in cash for the entire year of insurance or 48,000 kc to be exact. This takes some time.
4. Go to the Foreign insurance office and get the paperwork.
5. Fill out the paperwork
6. Do the following:
Go to a Gyno to have a sonogram and pap smear.
Get blood tests done
Have a physical from a doctor
7. Set up an appointment with the Gyno I saw when I was pregnant before.
8. Go on time but wait 1 1/2 hours to be seen.
9. Only to be turned away because they won't accept VZP for foreigners anyway, oh and be told that I'd be lucky if there were any doctors in Prague who take that type of insurance because it's awful.
10. Stop crying. I am pregnant and emotional after all.
11. Go to the insurance office and demand a list of doctors that accept VZP. 4 years ago this list existed. It doesn't anymore.
12. Find doctors via the internet to call.
13. Call. Answer: "We're sorry, we're not able to take new clients at this time."
14. Repeat step 13 (6 or 7 times).
15. Call. Answer: "We're sorry, we're taking new clients but not with VZP"
16. Repeat step 13 and 15.
17. Call. Answer: "Yes, we are accepting new clients and take VZP but we can't fit you in for 2 1/2 weeks." Set up appointment.
18. Go to MOTOL to get blood tests done.
19. Fill out paperwork only to be told, "We're sorry, we're only open from 8- 10. Come back tomorrow"
20. Go to MOTOL Hospital turn in paper work and pay $140.
21. See the nurse and get bloodwork done.
22. Wait 5 days to pick up results and see a doctor. Go back to MOTOL
23. Wait for an hour to see doctor.
24. Have doctors exam. During questioning she found out I have a weird blood disease: thalassemia. "You might need to have another blood test, since we didn't know this before. You'll have to pay a lot for it. But you probably won't need it."
25. Go to new gyno.
26. Fill out paperwork.
27. Wait 30 min (probably a record low!)
28. Get sonogram and pap smear done. Get pink prenatal book. It was a good thing I knew I needed my prenatal book, because I had to ask for it. Not understood. Describe it. Got the book. Finally! - this is required to register for hospitals in CZ. (Side note: On your 14th week of pregnancy -to the day - you are supposed to sign up for a hospital. I got my book on week 16.)
29. Turn in paper work to insurance office. Wait for their doctors to approve insurance. 1 week.
30. Work on registering for a hospital, now that I have the pink book. Call Apolinář - Full
31. Call Podolí - Full
32. Call Bulovka - Openings!
33. Go to Bluovka
34. Wait
35. Prenatal book, check - passport, check - insurance card . . . what you don't have insurance? Come back when you have insurance. I'll guarantee you a spot for 2 weeks. - Great. I should have insurance by then. . .
36. Get called from insurance office saying there are additional things they want.
37. Go get list - ask what list means only to be told, "I don't know."
38. Wait for insurance person to call someone who knows. Get phone number.
39. Call phone number - Oh wait, it's the idiot who was the "someone who knows." He gave his own number instead of the correct one.
40. Call correct number. No answer.
41. Next morning call the correct number. Talk to the doctor. What's the problem? There were two: The doctor's report had a question mark on it. You can't give someone insurance if there's a question mark on the medical report. There's always someone else to blame - so we get the run around. The second problem was that the law changed two weeks before my blood test and they now require something they didn't before and apparently the message didn't get communicated to the foreign section of the hospital yet, a mistake I had to pay for. It's fair - right? I needed two more blood tests and a letter from my doctor in the US? What! Dan convinced her the letter could be from my Czech doctor.
43. Go to Motol again. They were still sure I didn't need the blood test but my doctor wasn't answering the phone.
44. Talk to the lab doctor. They sent me to Hematology - with directions - section B 3rd floor.
45. Get lost looking for Hematology.
46. A nice doctor took me to Hematology - they game me the wrong directions.
47. Talk to the secretary at Hematology. They said they couldn't schedule me in for 2 weeks. I started crying and they made room for me in a week.
48. By now I was panicking that I wouldn't get a spot in the hospital because it had already been a week plus one week until the appointment plus another week for the results plus another week for the doctor at the insurance place to give me insurance. So we went again to Bulovka.
49. The nurse said, "Where's your insurance card?" We don't have insurance. "Then why are you here? I can't sign you up without insurance." But last time you said we could. "Yeah, if you prepay for the entire delivery." How much is that. "I don't even know. Do you want to do that?" No. "Look I know your situation, and I promise I'll sign you up whenever you get insurance, just don't wait until your last month of pregnancy." PHEW!!! GREAT!
50. Went to Motol again for the appointment.
51. Waited 2 HOURS!
52. Saw the doctor and had another physical.
53. Got my blood drawn.
54. Went to pay for the visit. After gasping the guy said, "You'll probably have to pay more when you pick up the results. I couldn't find everything." What!!
55. Go to Motol to pick up the results. Should be, what 10 min?
56. Wait for another 2 hours! This time I had the kids with me too.
57. The doctor gave me her synopsis. I'm healthy now, but she wants me to come back in a onth because I might have to have a blood transfusion.
58. Pay again. GASP!!! I paid almost the same as last time. This is getting ridiculous. No it was at ridiculous on number 25.
59. Go to the insurance office.
60. Wait for 20 minutes before I interrupted the man two people ahead in the line. All I need to do is give you these papers. Thanks!
61. Call to make sure the results were in and I wasn't making a pointless trip.
62. Repeat 61 seven times.
63. Go to the insurance place. The main lady was sick. The person there didn't know anything. "Come back at 3:00" What are you kidding me. I've been here many times already. If the paperwork was approved it is here somewhere. Call someone.
64. Denied. I started crying uncontrollably.
65. Dan called the doctor and according to her we didn't keep our end of the bargain by giving a medical history from my blood doctor. I don't have a blood doctor. I'm not THAT sick! I did have a paper from the hematologist written to my gynecologist that described my "condition." She gave us another chance.
66. Dan wrote a letter explaining that I'm a healthy person and that they have no right not giving me insurance. If she was a real doctor she would realize that from the results I gave her - He didn't write the last part but yesterday was a really hard day for us.
67. Turn in the paperwork AGAIN and we'll find out next week if 1. I'll get insurance. 2. We'll have to prepay for the birth out of pocket. 3. We've even joked about going to the US, but I don't really see how that would help anything. OR 4. Since we started this process there is another company, Slavia, that does insurance, but it's at least $1,000 more than VZP.
68. Denied AGAIN! I don't understand it. I'm a healthy person. It seems like something that should be fought, but I'm tired, and running out of time.
69. Stop crying.
70. Dan found another insurance agency - which will cost a fortune but has no prerequisite requirements - like a doctors appointment (or 10).
71. Wait until we have enough money.
72. Ask if there's any way to get a discount. What do we have to loose? Dan got us a 5% discount saving us 4,000 kc (about $200).
73. Go to the insurance office. Transfer a fortune to their account.
74. In return I got a cardboard card - written in pen. You would think they could give me a card that looked a little more professional but as long as it works.
75. Go to Bulovka to register for a hospital.
76. Wait in line for an hour for a stamp and a signature. And I'm registered! YEAH!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Family Christmas Letter

We sent this to some people by email, but for those of you who haven't seen it. . . here it is. (And send me a message so I can get your email in my list of contacts.)

Dear Family and Friends,

As the year comes to a close we can’t help but think about those we love (you) and we’d like to update you on the Reeves family happenings. We are still living in Prague (4 years and counting) and just moved to a bigger apartment. The boys have their own room, we have a full sized fridge, and oven! Very exciting! Still more exciting is the fact that we are expecting a new baby long about next July.

Dan is working on his PhD and has made good progress in the requirements. He’s even a “little Dr.” RNDr. – which doesn’t mean much unless your Czech. Then you would say, “Wow! Impressive!” and call him “Pane Doktore.” Dan gets offered more work (translating and editing from Czech to English) than he can manage, almost entirely from professors in his Geography Department. Dan is now practically Czech, since his language skills are absolutely amazing. Dan is the most amazing husband and father and we are so blessed to have him as part of our family.

Val found several new ways to stay busy this year. She is still volunteering at a local family centre (she also happens to grace their Internet homepage, along with Vince and Benji: She does all kinds of fun art projects with the boys, some of which she then uses at the family centre (pardon my British, Val is making fun of me ;-). She also teaches a popular singing class for toddlers and moms. In the fall, Val started teaching English at a preschool one day a week. She still finds time to take good care of the three boys in her family and we all appreciate her very much!

Vince is so much fun to have around. He keeps us entertained with his stories, games and prayers. He is a great brother and includes Benji in a lot of his fun and games. He likes pretending to be various superheroes and utilizing his awesome Lego skills. Vince gave organized sports a try recently, at a local football (soccer) club. He seemed to prefer playing tag to playing soccer, although he did enjoy the warm-up drills. We will try again next year.

Benji likes to be with his brother and is picking up language, counting and alphabet skills pretty quickly. He loves to sing, especially I Am a Child of God and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. His favorite pastimes are reading books with daddy, cuddling with mommy, watching Dora and Boots (as he would call it) and playing with Vinson.

We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season. It is great to remember our Savior Jesus Christ, his example, his teachings and his precious gifts. And as always, a new year gives us a great opportunity to reflect and (re-)commit ourselves to be more like Him.

Love, Dan, Val, Vince and Benji Reeves