Getting the Care You Need During COVID-19
Stay at home orders throughout Oregon and Washington have been in place to keep residents safe. But not being able to leave the house certainly affects our ability to get stuff done, right? And if you have an application pending for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits then it’s of utmost importance to keep up with your primary care and other appointments.
This is important not only for your own health and sanity, but it is important for your application. SSA is often looking to see that you are continuing to engage in treatment. Gaps in treatment could negatively impact a person’s application. Further, SSA wants to see that you have tried all the things that have been suggested to you from your medical providers. Have you done physical therapy for your back? What about massage therapy? Did your doctor recommend you see a mental health specialist to talk to someone about depression? With so many of us staying home, how are we supposed to get this done?
The first thing to do is continue to engage in the visits you have scheduled with your health team. Have televisits with your doctor! Many primary care clinics and counselors are switching to visits over the phone or on one of the video platforms, like Zoom. It’s important to check that your insurance will still be authorized for one of these types of visits. There may even been an extra piece of paper that you have to sign to give consent to receive treatment over phone or video. Some insurance carriers are even waving cost-sharing deductibles and co-pays for all tele-health visits during COVID-19, not just those mandated under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The full text of the Act can be found here. You should check with your own insurance carrier and your doctor’s office to be safe.
Next look into mail order or other social distancing options for your medications. Many insurance plans and pharmacies have mail order delivery available for some of your regular prescriptions. It might take a few days for prescriptions to arrive in the mail, so be sure to look into this option and renew your prescription in enough time to get your needed medication. Other pharmacies are offering curbside pickup of medications with enough notice. So don’t let not being able to leave your house or entering the pharmacy keep you from getting your prescriptions.
Finally, don’t be afraid to schedule new visits with specialty care. While non-urgent procedures in hospitals have been put on hold, that doesn’t mean that all specialty clinics are not available to treat you. I had a client who met a neurologist at Legacy Medical Group for the first time last week over the phone and video. My client experiences numbness in his hands and needs an EMG test to determine the extent of the nerve damage. It’s scary having to meet with a new specialist for the first time over the phone. Are they really going to get a sense of who you are and what symptoms you are experiencing to provide you adequate treatment? Well, give them a chance! It worked for my client and it could work for you.
These are tough times but utilize what is available to you to ensure that you are receiving the care you need.
Stay safe. Amanda J. Robichaux, Partner