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!


jeff & maylia parker said...


So happy for you all. And we're especially smiling that It's a Girl!

We love and miss you all,
-the parkers

p.s. We're looking forward (sort of) to reading the rest of the 100 steps. Ah yes, some things we just don't miss...

Katerina said...

You can't be serious! Yet, I don't actually find this hard to believe. I'm just glad I don't have to do that and sorry that you have to. Wouldn't it be easier to fly back to the US toward the end of pregnancy and have the baby here? Anyway, good luck with everything, and congratulations on the GIRL! :-)

Spencer and Kimberly said...

I'm sorry it's so hard. Good luck getting it all figured out. Congrats on getting a little girl!! That's how I've had them, 2 boys then a girl.

Stacy said...

What a pain. I'm so sorry! It sounds like getting insurance is more painful than having the baby! How fun to be having a girl, though! We love and miss you!

Wade and Kris said...

YEA!!!! Congrats! Girls are fun. Hope the rest of your pregnancy journey goes a little better. Good Luck. It sounds like you might need it.

hannah said...

Yay! a girl! I'm so sorry about your insurance issues. Insurance makes me cry even when I'm not pregnant, and I didn't have to jump through half of your hoops. Best of luck getting everything straightened out!

Morgan said...

Many congrats on having a baby girl!! And my commiserations on the painful process. I could go on about this, but I won't :) Hi from all the Wickers!

The Englands said...

I guess this is why we're told to endure to the end. I'm sorry Val. Hope things get better.

Anna said...

Well, the good news is that Obama wants to move our country to socialized medicine, so we can keep up with the great medical care as described in the Czech Republic. Even better news is that Congress PASSED the bill. Maybe by the time I actually have a baby, I will get to go through all of this is the US of A. :) Love you. I am sorry. What a pain.

Jaime Dix said...

Wahoo! A Girl! Yah! Congratulations! Girls are awesome. Love you.

Ashley said...

OH MY GOSH! Tell me how you could possibly do that being pregnant, sick, and having two little boys!! I would be so intimidated by the whole process. BUT it's a girl! I'm so excited for you guys! I hope things have been figured out by now, but you'll be in my prayers.