SKIN CANCER AWARENESS: as well as SCARE TACTIC SCAMS to be aware of
By Kama Linden
Having recently been to a Dermatologist for my skin cancer screening, I wanted to warn people who are about to do the same, in honor of May being skin cancer awareness month. By all means, you should have your skin checked yearly, no matter your tone or complexion, however, I want to make you aware of certain scare tactics that some dermatologists will use in order to upsell you on unnecessary and COSTLY procedures, usually NOT covered by insurance for a reason: they are BOGUS!!!
I am also continuing with the idea that the kind of health insurance you have will determine the care that you receive: https://link.medium.com/WWTWLfr9Bfb
As well as warn readers of SCARE tactics that some doctors will use in order to pad the bill.
Even though I now have medicaid, doctors will try and make up "necessary procedures" so as to make more money. Case in point: I went for a cleaning with a new dentist I found on the Health First MMC website. The dentist had 5 stars, and his wife, who took my appointment, was super nice. Having separation anxiety from not being able to go to my favorite dentist of 20 years, this seemed like a good fit. However, once I walked into the office on Bainbridge, I saw way too many people in the waiting room. It was like a MILL when you went upstairs: assistants upon assistants, many dentist chairs...almost like a huge barber shop. A lady gave me a fairly ROUGH cleaning, pushing back my gums, which I could tell, and then said, "the dentist will have to see you, as your gums are swollen (DUH! BECAUSE OF YOU, LADY!), and you will most likely need 'scaling'". Having another sheyster dentist once tell me that me really good teeth needed "scaling", or actually, she CHARGED for scaling, but did the same kind of cleaning as every OTHER dentist, but BILLED it as scaling, I told her I would report her if she did not remove the charge from my bill. Sure enough, a dentist, who was NOT the same man as was listed on the website, or on the shingle, tried to upsell me on this SCALING. I refused. He said, "No?" I said, "NO!". He asked why, and I said, it is just a way for you to pad the bill, and left.
Recently, I went on the website to find a Dermatologist who took medicaid orHealth First MMC. A very nice sounding one, only AFTER I made the appointment, for what was LISTED as a SCARSDALE address, kept on trying to send me to MOUNT KISCO....I kept explaining, that I was not driving from the Bronx to MOUNT KISCO for a doctor's appointment. I called a few more places: Montefiore based Dermatologists had at LEAST a 1 month wait to be seen, and the red rash on my neck was causing me to rip up my skin. I finally found a Dermatologist in Kingsbridge, not far from Riverdale. They "reminded" me of my appointment way too many times. From the time I walked in, there were signs everywhere about "cosmetic procedures", and paperwork to fill out, including an agreement to PAY FOR PROCEDURES NOT COVERED by INSURANCE. I refused to sign this, as I said that would not be necessary. I waited about 45 minutes to be seen. I re-explained that I was here to have the rash examined, as well as my yearly skin check (skin cancer). She tried to say that I HAD TO COME BACK...it had to be a SEPARATE APPOINTMENT. I said, THIS IS the reason I am here, and if you cannot do that, I AM NOT COMING BACK! WHY can't you just QUICKLY do my skin check? She explained that I was supposed to come back for "MAPPING" which is a whole other visit, and COST: NOT covered by INSURANCE. Basically, "MAPPING" is an overpriced scam that some dermatologists will force on their patients: You pay for them to INDIVIDUALLY photograph EVERY SINGLE Mole, Freckle, Beauty Mark...I have well over 100...maybe more...shoot, I could have one of my guy friends do that for FREE! Heck! I know guys who would PAY ME to have me strip down and let them photograph every freckle and beauty mark on my body.
This was NOT the first time this SCAM was offered to me. In 2008, a Dermatologist who had an office on Columbus Circle deemed himself a "skin cancer specialist". Since I also refused to have EVERY BEAUTY MARK AND FRECKLE photographed, he took two RANDOM biopsies of 2 different beauty marks that were flat and looked like EVERY OTHER BEAUTY MARK I had. Sure enough, they supposedly came back as "possible DYSPLASIAS"...definition: A term used to describe the presence of abnormal cells within a tissue or organ. Dysplasia is not cancer, but it may sometimes become cancer.
In other words, if you LEAVE IT ALONE Chances are, it is FINE. But because he MESSED with one, I had to go to my Mom's Dermatologist who is a surgeon, and have him cut around it and sew me up properly. But again, this was a perfectly, normal looking beauty mark, a brown dot just like the other 100 something brown dots I have. This was not raised, changed, shaped weirdly, bleeding, or anything else that is considered REAL SKIN CANCER.
So here I am yet again at this Dermatologist in Kingsbridge, and she is trying to sell me on the mapping. Then, she finally agrees to check out my beauty marks, and randomly chooses one and says, "Oh, this HAS to be a DYSPLASIA!" (Here we go again). I made her photograph my back with MY PHONE and show it to me: "What?" She ws trying to say that one of my beauty marks had "two colors''. Once I see the photo, I am like, "you mean brown for the beauty mark and skin color?" She was trying to force me to let her do a biopsy right there, but being I was going to swim, I said, "well can I swim" she said, "no, you might irritate it, so you will have to come back". I said maybe in 6 months, which caused her to GASP! She tried to scare me into comingback in two weeks. She reluctantly made a prescription for cream for my rash, and let me go.
The snake oil I picked up was useless. I explained in the visit that I had samples of TOPICORT from my other Dermatologist, who unfortunately does NOT take medicaid, and it was working, so this is what I wanted. I literally just had the visit on April 14th. I called on the 19th, and asked for a new prescription to be sent over to CVS for TOPICORT. The receptionist tried to con me into making another appointment: "Being you are a new patient, you will have to come in again as she needs to 'get to know you better'". I told her off, and said I would just find a new doctor who wasn't a SCAM ARTIST.
So far, on Medicaid, I have only found ONE good doctor, and that is my Orthopedist. But the Dermatologist and Dentist try to scam the system to pad the bill, at the cost of Medicaid, as well as other insurances. As I mentioned in the previous article, when I had ANTHEM before SAG dropped many of its members unfairly, doctors such as my GYN in 2019 performed an UNNECESSARY Colposcopy in order to rackup $900, leaving me on the hook for $600. In 2020, my GYN (different and better doctor), said that she should have read the pathology, and NOT done the unnecessary (and costly) procedure. Even the HAND doctor, seeing that I had ANTHEM, forced me into having an xray, when all I had was a finger infection, which was diagnosed and treated over the summer at City MD, and I just wanted a follow up with a specialist to make sure it had not returned. I explained that I could not afford EXTRA BILLS, and he assured me that "the co-pay of $25 covered everything", and yet, I then received a bill for what insurance did not cover, as well as threatening letters that if I didn't pay immediately, for a procedure I said I DID NOT WANT OR NEED, that they would put it into collections, and destroy my credit rating. I called their collections person, explained all, and said that if they did not remove this erroneous charge, that I would file a complaint against their practice. Sure enough, that bill was "taken care of".
Either way, whether you have insurance, or Medicaid, do not let doctors add charges, or procedures that are unnecessary. You also have a right to say what is and is not done to your body. Yes, you should get check ups. But ask before your doctor performs that scaling, suggests that you pay for "mole mapping", cuts your skin, or does ANYTHING out of the ordinary.
And yes, you have the right to leave, and get a second opinion before you hand over your insurance card, as well as your credit card.
Kama Linden is a singer-songwriter with 4 studio albums, the newest being, “Everything In Good Time”, releasing in Summer 2020. She is also an actress, fitness instructor, freelance photographer, and has a fitness book: “Healthy Things You Can Do In Front Of The TV”.