Health and the Fires
Many people in California are living in areas currently impacted by the fire. Whether you are in the midst of the fires, have been evacuated, or live in the surrounding areas, one thing people forget about is the air quality.
In the aftermath of the fires, the smoke and other pollutants in the air can affect you. People susceptible to pneumonia, bronchitis, or have asthma, or other lung diseases or ailments have to be especially careful. Masks may not be enough. Particulate matter may cause scarring of the lungs. People who have never been sick may find themselves having trouble breathing. They may feel like they have allergies. They often suffer from cold symptoms or have a deep cough. All these symptoms can be issues of serious problems to come.
There is no procedural waiver by your health insurance company to allow those suffering from complications due to exposure to the fire or its subsequent poor air quality to bypass their primary care doctors and be immediately seen by specialists. In some areas, because of the volume of people affected, wait times can be several months for treatment, even while the exposure goes on and the damage to their health continues.
Your local urgent care may not be equipped to handle fire-related complications, especially if they present as a cold, the flu, or pneumonia. They may be able to treat the symptoms and give you relief in that way, but only you can assess for yourself whether you are seeking comfort or cure from something that may cause long-term damage. A call prior to going will allow you to assess their ability to treat such complications.
ER’s may be an option for immediate assessment and treatment but with their high co-pays and the high co-insurance payment your pay, unaffordable. Payments can run up to 50% of the entire bill, if not more. The insurance company may even deny your claim if they don’t consider it an emergency.
One place to look for assistance may be your home insurance policy. You may be covered by that policy for injuries incurred as a result of the fire.
The important thing is to treat yourself well. Don’t ignore complications from fire exposure. If not treated properly these can last a lifetime.