Paul Berry (stereotype441) wrote,
Paul Berry

Is it just me, or are same-day appointments a thing of the past?

Yesterday, I had a dentist fuck up some fillings, and when the novocaine wore off at 8pm I discovered I couldn't eat.

So I called Kaiser dental this morning and was told that there were no emergency appointments available until noon tomorrow. I told them as politely as I could (I was fighting hunger and pain at this point, mind you) that that wouldn't work, and I really needed to be seen today, because I couldn't eat. They said they could put a note into triage, who would call me back. I said ok, though I was suspicious, since my previous experience with Kaiser medical is that sometimes it takes all day for them to call you back.

As I was waiting I formulated plan B, which was: if they didn't call me back by 10am, I was going to go to the dental office, demand a copy of my dental records, and then drive to a private dentist who could fix the problem today, even though I knew I'd be going outside of my insurance so I'd have to pay for the whole thing myself.

About 45 minutes later, I got a call from a nurse. She asked me to describe my problem again, and then said, "well, we can fit you in at noon tomorrow". I explained that I needed to be seen today, trying to remain calm and patient (she, after all, wasn't the same person I'd spoken to earlier, nor was she the dentist who fucked up yesterday). She said sorry, there's nothing we can do.

"Well, in that case," I said, "can I...", and I was about to ask for my dental records so I could go ahead with plan B.

But she interrupted and said, "Well, if you want, you can come in to the office and see if anyone cancels."

"How likely is that to work?" I asked.

"It depends when you come in."

"Well, I'll stay all day, because, you know, I can't eat."

I think it was at this point that she realized I wasn't exaggerating, and I actually needed to be seen today. "Tell you what," she said, "how far away are you?"

"Fifteen minutes."

"Why don't you come in right now. I think we can squeeze you in."

So I got in my car and started driving. Five minutes later I got another call from the same nurse. This time she said, "We've got an opening at 9:10. Do you want to come in then?"

"Yeah, I'll take that. I'll come in at 9:10".

Growing up, I had Kaiser medical insurance and a dental plan that wasn't Kaiser. I don't remember my parents ever having trouble getting same-day medical appointments for anyone in the family.

But that seems to no longer be the case, at least with Kaiser. I've had to go through this kind of rigmarole two or three times over the last several years, to get same-day medical appointments. (And each time, it's been clear once I was at the doctor that, yes, I did indeed need to be seen that day). Now I've had to go through it with Kaiser dental.

In my new job, I'm going to have a non-Kaiser insurance, and I'll get to pick my own doctor and dentist (subject to certain constraints). So I ask you, my friends with medical insurance, are my expectations too high? Do you have trouble getting same day appointments when you need them? If not, can you tell me who your doctor and dentist are?
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