Thursday, June 28, 2012

Communication Breakdown

I've read countless posts about mis-communication or lack of communication between ortho office, surgeon office, insurance company and patient. My recent experience is no exception.

Here's a timeline:
  • My ortho, Dr. Hang, says I can schedule surgery for Sep/Oct. (May 16)
  • I immediately called the surgeon's office to let them know. They asked me to resend my insurance card so that I can get re-approved for surgery. (May 17)
  • I receive my approval letters, but they state my doctor and hospital are out of network. - (May 30)
  • I call my surgeon's office to lament the fact that I thought they were in network and they aren't. They assure me they are in network and tell me I need to get a new letter before I proceed. - (June 1)
  • I call the insurance company and speak to 5 different people/departments over the next few days and finally get the correct department who confirms my doctor and hospital are in network and will re-issue the letter. - (Jun 5)
  • I receive only one of 3 letters that needed correcting. - (Jun 11)
  • I call back and explain I need two more letters. -(Jun 12)
  • I receive the final 2 corrected letters. - (Jun 18)
  • I email everything to my surgeon, call their office and they say the doctor will call me to schedule. 
  • I wait.
  • I call the office to ask what the status is. Yes, they have all my paperwork, but they need a verbal ok from Dr. Hang my orthodontist. I immediately send Dr. Hang an email to ask him to call Dr. Henry  to discuss my case and let him know I'm ready. He responds right away to tell me he has a call scheduled w/him shortly to discuss other patients that morning and will most certainly give him my status.  - (Jun 22)
  • Uggg. I wait more. 
  • I called the surgeon's office again yesterday to find out why I hadn't yet been called. They said Dr. Hang and Dr. Henry spoke but that Dr. Hang said I wasn't ready yet. (What?!) I happened to have an appointment yesterday with Dr. Hang and one of the first things he asked was, 'have you scheduled your surgery?'! I told him what the surgeon's office said. He assured me I was ready and that he did tell Dr. Henry I was ready when they spoke. Uggg. So confused! - (Jun 27). 
  • I just called Dr. Henry's office again now and relayed what Dr. Hang said. So, we'll see what happens next... This is head numbing. (pun intended)
p.s. so happy I have the email addresses of both my orthodontist and my surgeon. 

Holy smokes. The surgeon's office just called to ask about a preferred date. Since I have a friend's wedding on Sep 30th and the first two weeks of Oct are crazy for me at work, I told them anytime the week of Oct 15th or 22nd. They will call me back after they check with the hospital's O.R. calendar. 


  1. This sounds time consuming and awful. Why isn't your orthodontist networking with surgeons in California? There are plenty of excellent orthognathic surgeons in southern california.
    Moreover, UCLA is a top medical and dental school in the nation (and USC and Loma Linda are also well respected in both areas of health care). Having to refer you to New Hampshire for an in network doc is just plain nuts. Good luck......

  2. Thanks muki. Yes, this has definitely been discussed. I would of course prefer to stay local, but I completely trust my orthodontist. He has been doing this for decades and after sending patients to some of the top local surgeons and getting results that weren't satisfactory, he will only work with a handful that he has complete trust in. My orthodontist discussed this with me and my dad, who went to USC dental school and is familiar with a lot of the top oral surgeons. It wasn't discussed in generalities, but specific names, cases and results. The one surgeon that is in network happens to be the furthest away. Not ideal, but c'est la vie. I know I'm in good hands.

  3. That makes sense--thank you for your thoughtful and non defensive response to my initial reaction. You seem prepared and have a great attitude toward your treatment, and I am confident this will hold you in good stead. Look forward to hearing how to this challenging journey continues to unfold for you.
    Take care,

  4. what a mess! Seems to me they are all terribly unorganized!

  5. I feel your pain, my situation is just as bad!