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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
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Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center

Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center
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Multiple Sclerosis Institute
Center for Neurological Disorders

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Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Clinical Attending in Neurology,
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
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Timothy L. Vollmer M.D.
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center
Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center

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Having to Prove You’re Sick … Again and Again

For many of us, the multiple sclerosis diagnosis process was (or perhaps still is) a long, drawn-out, trying time. MS is often called a “diagnosis by elimination,” meaning that many other conditions must usually be ruled out before MS is finally settled upon. This can make for numerous batteries of tests, years of misdiagnosis, and being made to feel like it’s all in our heads.

Then we hear we have MS and we have to deal with that whole thing on personal, professional, emotional, familial, spiritual, and financial levels. We sort and sift our way through medical expenses, insurance benefits, employment concerns, co-pays, disability rights, and all the rest.

We’re not alone in the world of MS. People experiencing symptoms of several chronic conditions are treated to the same difficult process.

Just living with a chronic illness can be a full-time job.

The grieving process of coping with MS can be long and often repeated. The disease progresses, taking more abilities from us in nibbles and chunks. Each time we relearn how to keep on living.

Yes, I Really Have MS
Yet another recurring emotional (and financial) burden comes in the form of insurance-provider required medical reports and independent medical exams.

Disease modifying medications slow down the progression of MS, and symptom management drugs can take the edge off some of the day-to-day struggles, but no one has yet cured MS.

Still, we get letters from insurers requiring us to schedule appointments with our MS doctors, pay for an exam visit, shell out for the fee to have forms completed by the doctor (the same forms each time) — often with deadlines that are difficult to meet considering the time it takes to get in to see the neurologist.

All the while, the threat of being cut off from insurance coverage or benefits looms over our heads.

Then there’s the kicker. Every so often, the insurance company wants to verify that you and your doc aren’t colluding to scam them. An official letter arrives assigning you to an appointment time with a medical professional you’ve never even heard of — often miles from your home base.

‘You’re Really That Sick, Trevis’
Sometimes (if you’re lucky), these docs are at least from the neurological specialty and are aware of MS, but they’re usually not multiple sclerosis docs.

You’re required to assemble your diagnostic reports, MRI films, medical records — all at an out-of-pocket price — and report to a person whose job it is to try to prove that you and your MS specialist are lying (okay, his job is really to “confirm and clarify diagnosis and capabilities,” but he’s being paid by the insurance company).

I have one of these appointments scheduled next month.

While digging through MRI films and reviewing disks with slices of my brain in computer files in order to compile stacks of reports and binders full of test results, I came across my original letter of diagnosis and my disability designation.

“You’re really that sick, Trevis.” It didn’t say that in so many words, but that’s what I read. “You’re not the man you were yesterday. The world will look at you differently from today on. You will be suspected of being a layabout for the rest of your days until you’re a complete burden to your family and society.” That’s what it felt like those letters said.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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