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  • In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

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    Old 05-21-2004, 08:31 AM   #1
    spondylo
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    Question In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    I really need some help. I have had spondylolisthesis for over 25 years, was first prescribed Wygesic, Robaxin, and a brace. I went off all these after 5 years and managed my pain with more natural means for about 20 years. Now, I am having a lot of pain.

    We do not have insurance and I am not eligilble for Medicaid or Medicare, plus we are in an almost desparate financial situation. The doctor at our local county health clinic does not want to prescribe me anything strong for pain ("not the role of the health clinic" long story; please see my other post). He suggested a pain management clinic, but their fees are way more than I can afford.

    What about these consultation/prescription websites I see on the Internet? Are they legit? Does anybody have any advice/information/experience about using one of these?

    I really need some help here. Thank you!

     
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    Old 05-21-2004, 10:33 AM   #2
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    Unhappy Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Hi spondylo , I do not know about online consultations, but have to wonder if there is some sort of state assistance you might be eligible for(?) or perhaps government assistance? It is not right that you should have to suffer....there has to be a way somehow. Hopefully someone may come along that might have some good solid info. for you because I hate to hear of someone suffering due to the cost issue. Is it possible to speak with the pm clinic and maybe they could work out some kind of plan for ya? Just trying to come up with ideas for you. I will think some more, and post what I can....hang in there in the mean time. Love, Surgical Disaster

     
    Old 05-21-2004, 11:59 AM   #3
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Hi Spondylo. You realy are in a jam. It's a crappy situation. I do have medicare but no script coverage, The discount card that comes out this year is a joke. I can shop around and get better prices. I get a better discount using the PPP discount card you see on TV. It's managed by advanced PCS which is the largest script insurer in the country, so they really do give legit discount that more than pays the 7 bucks a month for an entire family.

    But My daughter was dropped from a low cost health care plan in the state because we make 60 bucks too much a month with my disabilty and my wifes salary. A trip to the doc with labs cost us 140 just last week for my daughter. So much for my extra 60 bucks I have to live on every month. LOL

    I don't know how how anyone can legitamately qualify and survive on the amount they place for eligability. I would have to find an apt for 3 people that cost 200 a month and I don't qualify for section 8 housing, the best you can do around here is 750 a month, which is more than the amount to be eligable for any asistance program.

    As far as the internet sites, Some are legit, There is an authorized form of medicine called Telemedicine. You consult with a real doc, he has to keep actual records just like any other doc and at best you will pay 180-250 bucks for 60-90 Extra strength Vicodin or Norco.

    These are legit but the guy I know that uses this service runs into problems everytime he trys to refill the script. The instructions may say take one pill every 8 hours which is 3 a day so 90 should be a 30 day supply, he tried to refill it at day 33 and was told that was a 90 day supply. After that they placed a cookie on his computer that prevented him from even reaching the web site until the 90 days expired.

    The folks that get enough meds from the internet to mange 24/7 pain are spending hundreds of dollars each month and have to use more than one source which makes it doc shoping and then it is illegal. Using more than one doc to treat the same problem with controlled substances.

    I wouldn't send 200 bucks to mexico unless you can afford to loose it and won't mind getting plain old Tylenol. I just don't know how to verify If an oversea or over the border transaction is legal or legit. Otherwise you would be better saving up for a PM doc and look to use a med extremely cheap like methadone if you need round the clock meds.

    3-4 bucks for a vicodin and you probably do have to break the law to get enough to actually cover the entire month by using multiple sources. Using multiple sources means 180-280 bucks per site per script every month. You could drop 700-800 bucks real quick and still not be able to mange your pain.Become dependent and go through withdrawal.

    I guess if you just need something every now and then, and actually use the sites where you consult a doc, you would not be breaking any law. But if the company is not charting properly or doing anything to get them busted, when they grab their computers, they have your name too, so hopefully your work doesn't require a security clearence.

    Those are just some of the pitfalls of these places. They aren't cheap by any means. You are pretty much paying a street price for a legit script if you use a site with a real doctor. What a bargain.
    Good luck, Dave

     
    Old 05-21-2004, 02:42 PM   #4
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Spondlyo -

    My advice: Do you have a university nearby with a pain center? They often help people with little money. Also public hospitals do as well. You can negotiate prices and often use a pay plan. I know because my brother does.

    All you need is a doc. Once you have that, you can apply to the drug companies patient assistance programs to get your medicine for free. My brother gets his anti-depressants that way as well as Topomax. But even opiods are covered from those manufactures like purdue, endo, etc...

    If you think this is an option I can give you a link to go too.

    www.ourfm-cfidsworld.org/html/medicine_assistance.html

    I know our mods don't like us to use URL's, but this is for med assistance and can help many people in similar situations.

    - Ken

     
    Old 05-21-2004, 03:43 PM   #5
    spondylo
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Thank you to all three of you for your advice.

    I did look into Medicare. To qualify you must be either 1) totaly disabled, 2) pregnant, 3) have a child under 18, or 3) be over 65. I am none of the above.

    The doctor at the county health department did write me a very limited rx for Xanax because in addition to the pain, I am under a great deal of stress (mostly financial). But he said he would not keep prescribing that for me long term. They are looking into BuSpar which cost is covered by them. He also wrote me a script for Soma. I have taken it two nights in a row and it has made a difference in my sleeping. I have a friend with bad osteoarthritis who has been sharing her Lortab with me. I have only been taking 1/2 to 1 a day, spreading it out as much as possible. I know we are not supposed to do this, but it really does help.

    We are in SW Florida, in a small town. I did check with the local hospital. They are the ones who gave me the name of a local pain clinic. I assume it is a private practice because there are only 2 doctors. They wanted over $250 or so for the first visit and $120 for followup visits. Epidural steroid/anesthetic injections start at $1000.

    The spine specialist orthpedist I had been through compliments of Voc Rehab (2 years ago) has left the group he was with and gone into practice with just one other doctor
    and will only see me as a new patient since it has been 2 years (to the tune of $300-$500 for the first visit).

    Thanks to your advice, I will check out the larger hospitals (how do you know if they are a "public hospital?"). They are farther away, but would be worth the drive. As far as big Universities, I think there is one in Tampa that may be the nearest. Perhaps I could check that out though it is over 2 hrs away.

    If "all I need is a doctor" as you said, Ken, I may be able to go another route. I had saved my pennies and gone to an alternative-minded doctor who is actually an MD, too. I went to him for a different problem (I have a heavy viral load & perhap CFS). He seemed quite understanding and may be willing to work with me.

    Are these doctors, in general, aware of these pharmaceutical assistance plans? Do I need to print out some info to take with me?

    Thanks again, to all three of you, for your very valuable help and advice. I am always open for more. I am a strong believer in God's power and know He will bring me through this as He has so many other things. If any of you are like-minded, I would appreciate your prayers.

     
    Old 05-21-2004, 03:48 PM   #6
    spondylo
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Surgical Disaster,

    I forgot to mention that I did ask the PM clinic if they could put me on a payment plan, but they said no, but maybe I can keep trying and find one that will.

    The ironic thing is, I work at home as a medical transcriptionist, and one of the accounts I type for is a pain clinic. Unfortunately, I am in Florida and they are in Baltimore, MD!!

     
    Old 05-21-2004, 03:54 PM   #7
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Yes, most doctors are aware of pharmaceutical assistance programs. In fact, these programs make you work thru the doc to get the drugs for free or very little cost. You can check the link and call any of the companies on the list as they have their patient assistance numbers and ask them. They will give you all the info you need to take with you to the doc.
    If you call the hospital, just ask if they are a public hospital. Also ask them about your situation and if they have any suggestions, they usually do.
    Good luck -

    Ken

     
    Old 05-23-2004, 09:40 AM   #8
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    spondylo, I think I can help you - please email me asap at ******** (You got it, glad you did. Enjoyed talking with you.

    Last edited by WantToHelp; 05-24-2004 at 12:38 AM.

     
    Old 05-23-2004, 10:30 AM   #9
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Hey Spondylo, The very first thread on the page has all the info for patient asistance programs. The basic requirement are lack of insurance and a household income cap.

    Even though I am totally disabled, SSD with medicare, they don't cover scripts other than diebetic supplies and breathing supplies. The household income cap comes back to bite me everytime I turn around even though I come close to some of the caps, I haven't found one that will help me.

    Medicaid is even tougher than the patient assistance programs as far as income, but it is different from state to state. Have you gone to social services to see if there is anything you would qulaify for that may ease the burden in some way. Even if you don't qualify for medicaid, you may qualify for something like food stamps, If that saves you an extra couple hundred bucks you could set that money aside.

    There are also clinical trials for new meds that you may be able to take part in. You should check the website Centerwatch. It's a listing if every clinical trial in the country grouped by catagory, Diabetes, heart patients, BP, chronic pain etc. It's another option to look into and I have seen a couple trials going on in tampa for several different things. Apperently there is a school there that is funded to do clinical trials. Often as you enter a clinical trial they will provide the initial workups, Lke if you need Xrays, blood work etc.

    I am curious about your transcription work you do from home. I know a few people that do this but they were already working for a transcription company and then allowed to take their job home.

    My state vocational rehab offers the training but they have turned me down saying I'm too disabled to do the training and the odds of me finding work at home without fiirt working in an office setting would be hard to justify offering me the training. They only want to train folks that would have a high likelyood of returning to the work place.

    They talked to the program director and she pretty much said the same thing about it being easier to ake a job home once you have it, then to be hired with no experience and just training to work from home. Seems like a catch 22, You have to be disabled to qualify, I'm too disabled and don't qualify so the folks that do, does that mean they really aren't that disabled if all they need is a new skill? THe skills you have are not what determines whether you are disabled?

    I don't mean to insult folks that qualify, but exactly who does if they won't spend money on someone that doesn't have a very high chance of returning to work.If I had a high chance of returning to the workplace I wouldn't qualify for disability? I understand they don't want to train people that don't have any desire to re-enter the work force, but it's my disability that's preventing me from working and isn't that the purpose of vocational rehab, to find somethng you can within your limitations.

    I would need to work at home because I can't imagine someone hiring me with all the limitations I have. Can't sit for more than a half hour or stand for more than 15 minutes, need a place to lay down and with the meds I'm on, I would need more than a few basic acomadations made, that's why I thought something I could do from home would be ideal.

    Perhaps if I threaten a discrimination suite, after all it's publiclly funded, for disabled people and part of the SSD ticket to work program. I want to work, I want to be trained and yet they have nothing to offer me even though they can't find enough disabled people to even fill the programs they have because too many are satisfied with being home and have no desire to return to work. There is something very wrong with a system that disqualifies disabled people from a program designed to return the disabled back to work.

    They did tell me that if I could get promises of work at home in writing from an employer they would reconsider. Doesn't that seem like a strange way to look for a job. Would you hire me and allow me to work from home if I learn how to do the work you need? It would be like going to an airline and asking for something in writing gaurenteeing employement if I learn to fly. Sure no problem.

    Anyway, I hope things work out for you. Dave

    Last edited by Shoreline; 05-23-2004 at 10:37 AM.

     
    Old 05-23-2004, 10:54 AM   #10
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Spondylo,

    I'm afraid I don't have any advice for you but I fully understand what you are going through. I had to stop working in November 03. My husband took a huge pay cut with a different company over the summer, so we are making about 50,000 less than we were less than a year ago. It is a horrible adjustment and we are on the edge of financial ruin. I had enough money in my retirement account to carry us until last month. I was "sure" my disability would be approved by then. Well SSDI decided I will be able to return to work by January 05 therefore denying my disability.

    My surgeon wants me to start physical therapy 2 to 3 times a week starting on Tuesday of this week. I can't afford the copays for this. I still haven't figured out what I am going to do about that. I do have insurance but we have pretty high copays. My specialty co pay is 40 bucks a visit. It adds up so darn fast and then when you add on the script co pays, it can just be overwhelming. To top it off, like shoreline said, it seems we always make just a couple dollars over the limit. It makes me so angry because it seems like the people who are bilking the system are living a whole lot better than we are. For instance, when we go to the grocery store, I see people wearing the finest designer clothes, paying with food stamps and driving brand new vehicles. ???? Whats up with that? When my husband lost his job of 16 years in June, I went to social services to see what kind of help we could get, would you believe we had problems because when we bought our Dodge Grand Caravan, we had put down 6,000 in cash and we weren't in a negative equity situation with this vehicle. Well at that time, we were both working and he was making good money. At the time we were asking for help we had already had the van for 2 years.... I don't know it just seems like some people know their way around the system.

    I hope someone here can help you with who to contact for help. It seems like I just keep getting doors shut in my face. It is so important for my disability case to continue seeing the specialists and going to therapy and all that other stuff, but if you can't afford the copays what do you do? It's a catch 22.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    God Bless,
    Sherry
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    Old 05-23-2004, 11:02 AM   #11
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Shoreline,

    I have also been interested in the medical transcription field. It's something I could do from home, on my own schedule. Of course, I am still in the disability process so cant apply to the ticket to work thing yet. I have seen the ads on tv for the correspondence courses. Of course, with no income I cant afford that either. It can be so frustrating.

    God Bless,
    Sherry
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    Old 05-23-2004, 11:23 AM   #12
    spondylo
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Hi Dave,

    I did see those links at the top and I am pretty sure we would qualify, just affording a doctor is the problem, but I suppose I could save up a little at a time.

    Our government system is overall messed up in my opinion. I used to be on SSI due to a mental disability, actually more like I was a drug addict (but not the opioids). Do you think I had any trouble getting assistance? They came right to the mental hospital with all the papers. . .just sign on the line. Food stamps, medicaid, monthly check. No sheltered workshops, not much counseling, in general not much real help of the kind I needed except that my back was already injured at that time and I did appreciate the medical help I received for that. Fast forward a few years, and I was about 22, decided to move to my grandparent's home in Florida and get my life straightened out. Well, my SSI case came up for review, and they decided I was no longer mentally disabled. Hurray!! "But what about my back?" I asked. Well, they didn't think it was that bad a problem, though I was wearing a chair-back brace and taking medication and had been looking for work, but being turned down because of my back. So they discontinued the SSI. Moral of the story: Be an out-of-your mind drug addict and you get a free ride. Try to turn your life around and be a decent citizen, and we won't help you at all. Hmmm. . something wrong there.

    About the MT work. When I asked Voc Rehab for help with this, they gave me the same story about working from home as far as they were not even giving any assistance at all to any work-at-home jobs. "must be trained to work in community" So I was able to get a partial scholarship and have a friend cosign a Sallie Mae student loan for me. Now, I understand some MT schools will work with Voc Rehab and Voc Rehab does pay the tuition in some cases.

    There is much more to MT than just typing. Some people are wanting to change the name of the profession to Medical Language Specialist. Personally, I don't care about changing it, but it is a more accurate description. The language can be very technical and some places require almost perfect grammar. Just to be honest, it may be hard if you are only able to sit for 1/2 hour at a time. Then again, I usually get up about every hour or so and take a short break. I take a long break in the middle of the day. I recently went from working about 5 hour a day to 6 or 7, and I am noticing increased pain. I start my day around 10:00 am and usually work until between 7:00 and 9:00 pm depending on how many breaks I have to take, how much work I have ect. I am making about $200 a week net now, but it has taken me 2 years to build up to this . . much slower than the average transcriptionist. (I have mild CFS as well and problems with concentration.) I am just letting you know, it can be a long, slow row to hoe.

    However, I would certainly not discourage you. What have you got to lose? I, personally, love the work I do.

    Wow! I know this is long. . .hope it answered some questions for you.

     
    Old 05-23-2004, 11:50 AM   #13
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    Re: In pain, cannot afford a doctor; need some advice, PLEASE!

    Hi Sherry,

    I didn't see your post until after I had posted my long post. I did want to add to my reply to Dave that many people seem to be ignorant of the changes that have taken place in the Medical Transcription field. Much of the work is done from home now. In fact, most of the graduates from the course I took are working from home. I had a job within three weeks of graduating, working right from home.


    BTW, Dave, I am so glad that you haven't lost your sense of humor. It helps, doesn't it?

    Last edited by spondylo; 05-23-2004 at 04:25 PM.

     
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