Six months of billing futility, revisited

Something about that call isn’t sitting right with me. I finally got through to my insurance company, only to be told the problem: “we’re getting bills.”

Now, as some poor shmuck with little more than a family and a mailbox, this sounds like something perfectly resonable to say… if it was born of my lips. As my insurance company – whose sole purpose in the universe is to disburse healthcare dollars for – drum roll please – healthcare, this sounded fishy.

Hold onto your skull caps frends, I’m not done yet. You see, I wasn’t exactly speaking to my health insurance company. I was speaking to the company with a subcontract for the work with a certain medical specialty. No, this wasn’t an error on my part – we were both on the same medical specialty page. The problem was, the subcontractor didn’t handle claims/billing/money.

If I had it to do all over, I would have asked a few probing questions – with a pinch of sarcasm for flavor.

So what do you do when you get a bill? Do you forward it to the correct recipient? Do you notify the Doctor’s office about the error? Do you do both? Do you just ignore it, hoping it will go away? If you don’t process claims, what the hell do you do? What value do you add to my healthcare?

Alas, I felt cowed, and for no good reason. Maybe it was a case of learned helplessness. Either way, I just said thanks and called my Doctor’s office to let them know what I learned. Of course, I had to leave a message with their billing department. They were on the phone assisting other patients.

They were assisting with other insurance problems, no doubt.


It’s the little surprises that make all the difference

“Ah… Mr Kauffman? Your insurance company hasn’t paid us since your August visit. You might want to call them.” That was the office staff at one of my many doctors’ offices. We’re pretty tight, seeing as how I’ve been there a lot since August.

I might want to call them? Does this imply I might not want to call them… that I might just want to pay the bill myself and not go through the hassle? Or is it possible they might want me to just pay the bill, so they won’t have to go through the hassle?

If you guessed all of the above, you win… a warm feeling in your heart, knowing you’re at least as smart as me. Well, maybe not warm, exactly. Room temperature?

I’m not sure what this says more about: my doctor’s office or my insurance company. Is health insurance so poorly run in this country that it’s routine to wait six months for payment? Or is the office manager at my doctor’s office REALLY lax with the ‘ole follow-up?

If this is business as usual, would it really hurt anyone if it was run more like a government?

Bedtime thoughts

Do you trust the health insurance industry more than your government?


The right spent the last thirty years (at least) selling the idea that government is the root of all problems, and they’ve made a killing. But ask yourself, has your government let you down that much? If so, have you ever called your representative in Congress or Senator to let them know? Have you ever written them a letter? Do you know who your representative is? Did you vote in the last election? Did you vote in the last election that didn’t involve the Presidency? Do you know who you voted for? Did you know who you were voting for at the time?

Maybe it’s let you down because you allow it to represent someone else by default.

Writing a letter takes a few minutes and costs less than a buck. Email is free. A phone call might take ten minutes of your time, and is likely free if you call their local office.

Do you spend more time complaining about it than doing something about it?

Some say you get the government you deserve.

What kind of government do you deserve?

What customer?

“What about our shareholders Bob? Who’s looking out for them?”
– The Incredibles

You know me. I love insurance. I love it so much I bought a bunch of it. We’re like that ice cream place that brags about all the flavors they’ve got. It’s a good thing too, because it’s coming in handy after Cheryl’s accident.

I know what you’re thinking, or I think I do. Well, maybe it’s just a hunch. Yeah, better call it a guess. I’ve been off my game lately. I’ll bet you’re a little suspicious, waiting for the switch to go with my bait. (My, what terrible bait you have.) I’m predictable that way.

The customer relationship is a little off in the insurance business. You’re only right as long as you’re not trying to get something for your money, besides a monthly/annual statement… or… brace yourself: a renewal notice. They’re down with the statement gig. Aren’t statements grand? I love statements. I love the way they file, so smooth with delightfully heavy paper that just….

Sorry. I should really keep that to myself.

Something happens to you when you need more than reassurance from insurance. You’re not really a customer any more. The industry term often used is leech, or rube; depending on the context, or wether they’re trying to be civil.

When you have more than one policy, even if you don’t think they’re related (or overlap), you become something else again: screwed. Company A wants company B to pay, due to Y coverage. Company B says they won’t pay because you don’t have any more Y coverage. You thought all along that company A would pay something – why else would you have X coverage? So you go back to company A, explaining that you don’t have any more Y coverage. They say “prove it.” You say, “I’m already responsible for the deaths of a thousand trees proving things to you people. Don’t you ever stop?”

They laugh.

You almost feel guilty for thinking bad thoughts.


And so it goes.

Sick of me writing like I flunked junior high English? (It was a D – and only that one time.) Here’s the deal. We have two insurance companies (more than that really, but stay with me): one for auto and one for short term disability. Neither one wants to pay for short term disability, despite there being no dispute Cheryl is ‘short term disabled.’ How fracked up is that? Sure, I can see auto’s beef. They’re only gonna let us get so fat on their dime. But come on disability… you don’t cover disability? Your policies are printed on some great paper, but it’s not that good.

I know one thing. You probably knew it already, but I’m slow. You’re foolish if you think anyone but shareholders are the real customer. Everyone else is just a prop in the show, or so it seems.

It’s not easy being a prop. How did we get here? Is it something we did, or didn’t do? Are there insurance companies* out there fighting on the side of good, who aren’t trying to bring down the dreams of freedom loving people everywhere?

*Although I’m in no mood for fairness, I must admit my health insurance company was fantastic when I was sick last year. Sanity and fairness can be a real downer sometimes. It will return in 3… 2… 1…