BRIEF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT, PEOPLE. LISTEN UP.
So, for those of you who don’t know, Allegheny Health Network is a Pittsburgh area health system. Here is a link to its website, where it claims to have “received numerous national, regional, and local accolades for superior outcomes, quality care, and positive impacts on the communities [they] serve.”
It also claims that many of its hospitals are “ranked #1 in the market for delivering the highest quality of care in several clinical categories according to the Quantros’ CareChex® 2017 Hospital Quality Ratings.”
Finally — and this is what makes me laugh the most — its site states that its commitment is “providing Health For All” and that its dedication is “to delivering high quality care to [its] patients each and every day.”
That’s the real Living Proof of the difference we hope to make in the lives of our patients, and in our community overall.
Because in the end, while it’s wonderful to be recognized for our quality of care, what we truly celebrate are the outcomes – the Living Proof that each day, across our seven hospitals and hundreds of care facilities, the physicians, nurses and staff of Allegheny Health Network are providing patients with exceptional care.
My best friend has been ill off and on for six months, and consistently, this hospital system has refused to provide him care. Why? Because he’s a foreigner visiting the country and only has travelers health insurance. And if you don’t have American insurance (or any insurance at all, for that matter), then, apparently, this health care system really doesn’t care to serve you.
Here’s a few more details to back up my claims:
My best friend came to this country to travel for a bit, and at the time he left to come here, he was experiencing some infrequent, mild stomach discomfort (think too much acid or a sour stomach caused by eating too much of one thing).
After a few weeks of being over here, the infrequent discomfort had turned into constant, severe heartburn and acid reflux, extreme fatigue, crippling pain within the stomach, fever off and on, nauseu, irregular bowels — the list went on and on and on. My friend thought all of this was brought on by a change in diet or a gluten intolerance, so he switched up his eating habits to make them super clean and more like the food he would eat at home. Still, it didn’t help, and it got to the point where he couldn’t even sleep because all of the symptoms were so bad.
At this point, we tried acid reducers, thinking it was just a stomach acid problem. When none of those worked (even the types that completely block acid production), we took him to an urgent care (that was not related to the Allegheny Health Network). When that doctor was incredibly unhelpful, we started doing research on our own and came to the conclusion that my best friend probably has a stomach ulcer (which would make sense considering his doctor from back home found a cut in his stomach last spring).
So we began implementing an ulcer-friendly diet for him. Meanwhile, I reached out to the Allegheny Health Network in order to try to get my friend an appointment with one of its GI’s.
Why did I choose the Allegheny Health Network? Because it had always been my family’s hospital of choice. My dad worked for it for, oh, I don’t know, almost 20 years, and with a laundry list full of medical problems that he has faced throughout his life, my family had never had any negative experiences with the system. (Maybe it was because they knew my dad, and my family always had insurance. 😀 ) So, thinking the system was good, I wanted to take my friend there, too.
I called three times to try to make an appointment with the same GI that my father goes to. Not once did anyone call me back. At that point, my friend’s symptoms were going away, so he told me just to forget the doctor. It was gonna heal on its own.
But after about a month, the symptoms returned full force, and I tried to get an appointment again. This time, someone called me back after only two calls to the scheduling center and an attempt to schedule online. My friend gave his information to the lady but needed to get back to her about insurance, because she wanted the information, which he did not have on hand (which didn’t make sense because he was going to self pay anyway, since his insurance works by reimbursement, like most travelers insurances).
She told us she’d call back, and she did — at 8 a.m. the next day.
First of all, who calls about insurance at 8 a.m.? Obviously, people are either sleeping or driving to work at that time, so they aren’t going to be able to give the information. (This lady had to have known that.) My friend told her he was still waiting on the info, and she said to call her back when he had it. Once he got it a couple of hours later, he called the lady back, but she never answered. We both called five times and left three messages, AND SHE NEVER CALLED BACK.
I wonder why?
Once again, my friend said to screw it and forgo the doctor. So we did, until he started having breathing problems after he would eat. That’s when I made him go to an urgent care again. This time, it was one associated with the Allegheny Health Network.
The service was wonderful, and all of the doctors, nurses, and assistants were so kind. The doctor we saw said that we were probably right about the ulcer and that my friend would need an endoscopy as soon as possible. He gave us the number to call to make an appointment, and sent us on our way (cause at an urgent care, that’s really all they can do.)
Finally satisfied with this health system, I called and spent 40 minutes answering questions and making an appointment. We told the guy about how the insurance works, and everything seemed fine.
Until we showed up to the appointment.
We sat down for registration, and the lady asked if we had brought the proper checks.
“Yeah, you need three checks. Didn’t they tell you about the kind of checks you need to bring?”
No, and even if they did, WHO IN THE MOTHER FUDGING MODERN FUDGING WORLD MAKES THEIR PATIENTS PAY WITH MOTHER FUDGING CHECKS?????
I told her I didn’t have checks, and she told me there was nothing they could do. I asked her if they could bill it, because Allegheny Health Network always advertises their online billing, and she said no. But she at least called someone and verified that they indeed could not bill it.
Why couldn’t they bill it? She wouldn’t tell me. “We just can’t.” And since she deemed my friend’s condition wasn’t life threatening, she said we had to go. And we did.
Talk about high quality healthcare for all, eh?
AND I’VE LITERALLY NEVER BEEN ANGRIER IN MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE.
FIRST OF ALL, HOW DOES SHE KNOW HIS CONDITION ISN’T LIFE THREATENING?? When we tried to tell her everything he’s been experiencing, SHE INTERRUPTED US AND SAID THERE WAS NOTHING THEY COULD DO AND WE HAD TO LEAVE.
SECOND OF ALL, ALLEGHENY HEALTH NETWORK: GET SOME FREAKING CREDIT CARD MACHINES. WHAT CENTURY ARE YOU LIVING IN???
THIRD OF ALL, PLEASE PUT A DISCLAIMER OUT THERE SAYING THAT YOUR ONLINE BILL PAY OPTION IS ONLY FOR YOUR MAIN HOSPITALS, NOT FOR EVERY PART OF YOUR HEALTH NETWORK. (I only discovered this once I went onto the online bill pay part of the website and explored a bit.)
So, to conclude this very long post:
Allegheny Health Network straight up denied my best friend service because he didn’t have American health insurance. They have done the poorest job possible in treating him, and because of this, I will never, ever use this health system again. I really hope that some people out there see this and learn from my experiences to also never use this health system, and I hope that maybe this will be a good lesson for the system on how to make improvements so that it can actually live up to the things that it so proudly — yet falsely — claims.