Is my eyeball going to fall out?

So, here’s the thing, I have no insurance and I’ve graduated from college so my ability to go to their health services department is now gone. Oh, yes, of course, I’ve applied for Medicaid but I haven’t heard back from them yet so…

I’ve been seeing bright flashes out of the corner of my eye every so often and it started within the last 5 days. It’s not a floater, it’s actually like a flash of white light. Kind of like a car is zooming past me with their headlights on. There’s been quite a bit of stress to go around lately since I’ve been job hunting and we’re just generally in a period of transition. Also, I do get migraines but I don’t think that’s what it is. I sometimes get visual migraines but they appear more like in the center of my vision and make the world look like a Picasso painting. This isn’t that.

So, should I be really concerned and suck it up and borrow money from someone to go to the eye doctor this week or can I wait until I have insurance again?

YES YES YES see an eye doctor ASAP. “Flashes of light” are a common symptom of a detached retina, which can blind you if left untreated. Fuck insurance, it’s not worth losing your eyes.

It may be nothing, it may be something. If you can’t pay the eye doctor right away, they can bill you later.

Do it now. I had 2 detached retinas fixed at 22yrs old. Later = blindness in a lot of cases.

As soon as possible.

Ok. I will call on Monday and make an appointment.

I had previously decreed that I will run a marathon some day. It would be easier if I could see while I was doing it.


Which is better, then, going to the eye doctor or the ER?

Call your eye doctor and ask. He/she is even likelier than a bunch of strangers on a message board to regard something that could lose you your sight in hours as an emergency.

Going to the eye doctor might be better, if it can be done NOW. If not, go to the ER, and they will have a specialist or a way of getting in touch with one.

This isn’t something to wait around to take care of. Seriously. I’ve had a few friends who has some serious eye issues, and the universal comment from the eye doctors was to get help ASAP if you see bright flashes.

This might well be vitreous, rather than retinal, detachment: it certainly sounds like my symptom. Definitely contact an eye doctor, however, if only to make sure it isn’t the retina. The flashes persisted for several days, until the detachment was complete and therefore no longer triggering the nerves. About a month later, the same thing happened with the other eye; annoying till the flashes stopped but not a problem.

Amusingly, I went to a performance of a classical music piece, forget which one, which had a theme of war and used two sets of tympani, one on either side of the stage. I apparently moved my head with the force of the drums, and the corresponding flashing in my eye, like gunfire, added greatly to the effectiveness of the performance.

Ok, went to the ER, 99% certain it’s my old buddy migraine but they want me to follow up with the eye doctor on Monday. Rah.

well done. Good news. Keep posted?

It’s rare to be happy to hear about a migraine…but that’s good news. Glad you had it checked out.

So, it’s Tuesday…what did the eye doctor say?

Sorry, WhyNot, that I never answered. The eye doctor said it was not retinal detachment and to let him know if I had any sudden changes. Incidentally, whatever it is, it’s still there. I think it must be a stress thing because if I’m really stressed out it happens more. It also happens more in low light.

But that’s not why I’m updating this thread. Today I finally opened some bills. The bill for the ER visit plus the bill for the ER doctor totalled $1398. All the ER doc did was to dim the lights and look at my eyes with some kind of simple instrument. The eye doc did a full exam, dilated pupils and all.

The bill for the eye doctor totalled $45.

What the hell???

Let them know you’re a recent college graduate with no insurance and no money. You should get a much-reduced bill. And don’t assume this sort of thing should make sense. It rarely does.

You know how on most airlines, if you buy the tickets two months before the flight, it costs X. If you buy them at the counter 1 hour before the flight, the cost is $10X.

Why do you think that is?

But that’s true the world 'round. The OP’s billing situation exists only in America. //rolleyes//

On the bright (heh) side, at least there wasn’t a major problem. Imagine how less concerned you’d be about the bill had the ER saved your vision, eh?

Ok, then, let’s try to figure out why ER visit costs so much more.

When you visit your doctor, the payment for your visit (collectively) has to cover the costs of the doctor, the receptionist and the nurse. It also has to cover the depreciation/maintenance of some fairly mundane/inexpensive medical equipment.

When you visit the ER, the payment for your visit (collectively) has to cover the costs of the doctor, the receptionist, the nurse, the phlebotomist, the X-ray technician, the radiologist, pathologist, lab technician, pharmacist and numerous others, and depreciation/maintenance of some very expensive medical equipment.

And no, you didn’t use that equipment and those services, but they are all there, on standby, in case you need them. And they have to be paid for, somehow.

Does this explain things better?

Yes, this. Consider an ER bill (and any other medical bill, especially if you have no insurance) as the starting bid. You can probably get half knocked off just for asking, and if you can demonstrate financial need, they will set up a payment plan with you (again, their first bid will be ridiculous, like “$500 a month”, but you can talk that down to $50 or even $10) or they may even write it off entirely under the Charity Care they are required by law to provide to keep their tax exempt status (assuming they’re not-for-profit).

They may be able to help you get insurance, too, through your state’s Medicaid program or through the new insurance exchanges. You’ll have to ask about that - if you owe more, they’ll bring it up because they’d like to get paid, but for a relatively small bill (and yes, that’s a relatively small ER bill), they may not offer to do that work for you unless you ask.

It doesn’t explain why it only happens in America. One presumes that ERs the world over are, at least roughly, functionally interchangeable. Meaning that the cost centers in American ERs probably exist in foreign ERs, too.