UPMC/Highmark – It’s a Catty New World

Friday night, our car was rear ended while we running some errands. No one was seriously hurt – it was just an accident. The car in front of us made a sudden right hand turn into a car dealership. We were able to stop, but the woman behind us was not. Most important, her son was fine. She was calm, but visibly shaken. The responding police officer was sort of a dick though – he was driving down the road in an unmarked vehicle. I saw his lights go off as we were moving our cars from traffic.

But insurance will handle most things and both cars were driveable. I went home and woke up with a headache on Saturday that stretched into Sunday. Because I had a concussion earlier this year, we decided I would call my PCP today just to be safe. My PCP is part of a UPMC practice.

This is the response I received when I used their online system to request an “urgent care appointment” (phone talking sort of exacerbates the headache.)

Ms Kerr,

I apologize but our new office policy is to request insurance information with every appointment scheduled/rescheduled, I would need to know what type of insurance you have before I can schedule an appt for you. If you have Highmark, I would need to know what type.



Oh. Well, that’s helpful. I’ve encountered this  before, but didn’t know it was a policy. I never remember what type of Highmark we have but I always say “Oh it not the type you won’t accept” and they look it up and they go ahead and schedule me.

See what’s interesting is that they obviously have all of my insurance information on hand – I’ve been a patient for five or more years. So they could very quickly look up the account number and verify that I’m still covered far faster than it takes to respond to me, have me find my card and then do the exact same thing.

So why put me through extra hassle? Because I have Highmark.

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This is how sad it is. We discussed going to the ER yesterday and I was hesitant because of the co-pay. We also got caught up in the AGH (a mile from our house) versus Presby (my PCP’s hospital) debate. AGH made the most sense, but the idea of bureacracy delaying my care – even when its not urgent – made me sigh. What if I was going to be admitted? Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to do that 1 mile from our home to make it easier on US, the patient and her family? What if we ended up there for hours? Wouldn’t it make more sense for my driver to only have a mile to navigate if she’s tired?

Instead, I’m worrying about things I shouldn’t have to – will my PCP be reachable if the ER doc calls her practice? Will my records be transferred if they do bloodwork and a CT Scan? Will everyone be a grownup to give me the healthcare we pay to access and send me on my way?

Plus, did I ever tell you  about the time I went to the Presby ER security check with a pocket knife? I use it because of my hand tremors. I discretely handed it to the guard who looked at me like I was crazy. It is a Purina Dog Chow pocket knife for God’s sake. I’m fine with them thoroughy checking my bag and fine with them temporarily confiscating my pocket knife, but you’d think if I made the effort to “discretely” make sure they got the knife, they wouldn’t treat me like a criminal.

Ironically, this was a car accident so it won’t be billed to my health insurance anyway. Sigh.

Frankly, my preference now is to go to MedExpress. Yes, it is a scam and they pressure sale me each visit, but they don’t care what insurance I have.They just don’t do head injuries – which makes sense – so that wasn’t worth a trip.

So this is our catty new world…

UPMC contingent in the Pride March
UPMC contingent in the Pride March
Highmark contingent in 2013 Pride March


If only ...
If only …




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