How was your experience with Brian Kaplan?
He is fine -- appropriately kind, but you feel like one of many, many patients. Especially at the River North location. You only see him for the initial consult and then once your already loopy on diazepam right before the embryo transfer -- or not at all for IUIs since those are done by either nurses or technicians.
What one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Brian Kaplan?
Do your research and come to the consultation with all of your questions because that will probably be the only time you'll have to ask them.
During treatment, did you feel like you were treated like a number or a human?
Kaplan is kind and thorough. He will listen to and answer your questions, but there's not a lot of discussion regarding what to do going forward. He will tell you his plan and if you're not comfortable with that or any of the particular details then you can choose to do something else, but he doesn't really go through your options with you so you need to come in prepared. I'm in healthcare so I have a number of resources at my disposal to be able to research various protocols and procedures before and during our time with Kaplan, but I'm not sure what someone with no experience or baseline knowledge of this side of healthcare would do.
Describe the protocols Brian Kaplan used in your cycles and their degree of success.
7 IUIs: first with just Ovidrel, second and third with Clomid and Ovidrel, fourth and fifth with Follistem, Ovidrel and Endometrin, sixth with just Ovidrel (we had to do 6 IUIs before insurance would pay for IVF), then the office found a polyp in my uterus (why hadn't they looked for or found this before you may ask? I have no idea -- and was pretty pissed when I found out too!), and then the seventh after polyp removal (since we were told that IUI success rates usually improve after polyp removal) with just Ovidrel (since at this point we really didn't think it would work and Follistem cost us $1500).
IVF: Egg retrieval protocol -- (I don't remember specifics here; definitely lots of Follistem but we switched insurance providers so that was ok). Frozen Embryo Transfer -- OCP, leuprolide, Minivelle patches, baby ASA, prgesterone (IM injections and Endometrin), doxy and Medrol the 5 days right before transfer, diazepam at transfer, then continue both progrestones, patches, and ASA until (yet another negative) pregnancy test.
Describe your experience with your nurse.
Friendly but very busy.
Describe your experience with Fertility Centers of Illinois.
It's just huge and impersonal. Majority of the staff is very nice and compassionate, but then I've had a number of interactions with snippy staff who clearly don't want to be there. Less of that in the suburban locations when I was there for either lab/ultrasound monitoring or the IVF procedures.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Brian Kaplan.
IVF: $10k for the procedure + $5K for the medications (without insurance)
FET: $3k for the procedure + $3k for the medications (without insurance)
A note about medications: There are a LOT of things to know about your fertility medications. First, make sure you know where you can go to get all of your fertility medications. Most insurance dictates where you have to go but you may still have some options within their rules. If you don't like the staff, if they are not helpful, if they don't send you all the necessary syringes, needles, alcohol swabs, Sharps container (usually for FREE since you're a "fertility patient") then just go somewhere else. This is such a stressful time and having to deal with pharmacy staff (including both technicians and pharmacists) who don't understand the process, or have compassion for your situation, then you should find one that does. Next, crazy high co-pays and "not covered" medications are not the end of the story! There are a number of co-pay assistant cards available from the manufacturer that will help you bring the copay down (sometimes WAY down). Go on the website for each of your medications, get the codes (you may have to register with that pharma company), and then give them to your pharmacy. And no, you do not have to give the card to them in person -- they only need the numbers (ID #, group #, Bin #, etc.) so if the person you are speaking with doesn't seem to know how to handle the info/card, just ask to speak with someone who does. Also, sometimes the cash price for a medication may actually be less expensive than the copay from your insurance so make sure you ask about that too. Next, if you are told that something is not covered by your insurance (i.e. a prior authorization doesn't go through), you can submit an appeal. This can happen when the medication prescribed in your protocol is not part of what your insurance company has on their protocol. This happened to me with Lupron since it is not FDA-approved for fertility. Here's where your specialty pharmacy comes in -- they can submit studies to your insurance company showing the safety and efficacy of that drug when used for the indication in which you are planning to use it. You are probably not the first patient to need this so many pharmacies already have this information ready to go. My appeal was accepted and the $200 cash price went down to a $5 copay :) Finally, make sure you utilize your Health Savings Account or Flexible Savings Account. We put the maximum amount in at that beginning of the year (about $2500) and we just use that for all of the meds.
What specific things went wrong at this clinic?
- Failed to call in prescriptions to pharmacy