THE MOTHER OF ALL BUTTLES

The “health” “plan” from my last job has still not paid any of the claims from February to March of this year.

Today I got a bill from a collection agency for an $800+ charge, now with added interest.

A month ago I spoke to a “rapid resolution expert” at the health plan who was shocked, shocked at the lack of payment and pressed lots of buttons and told me it would be resolved in 30 days.

Nothing was done.

Today I spoke to another “rapid resolution expert” who was even more shocked and promised me a written response in 48 hours and resolution within ten business days. He gave me a magic string of digits which supposedly will make the collection agency back off.

Once again let me observe that I am at the very top of the privilege ladder here, and I’m getting reamed really hard.

Life in These Here Now United States (health care mix)

My health benefits provider (Blue Shield California) sent me a nastygram in the U.S. Mail saying I was cancelled, cancelled, cancelled. I looked on their website, saw that this was not so, and didn’t panic.

Then TriNet, who manages our benefits, sent an apologetic email saying the cancellations were their mistake and were being rectified.

Finally, they just now sent another email saying that they typed their customer service phone number wrong and were even sorrier.

“The persons responsible for sacking the previous persons have been sacked. And now, llamas!”

The Castle

So my shoulder hurts, and I went to the doctor. And we tried a couple things and they didn’t work. So he sent me to the MAN! Super-neurologist. Pain specialist. That guy was indeed a skilled and professional physician. He tried a very special thing and it didn’t work.

So then the MAN said that there was a higher, more esoteric, almost hermetic knowledge held by one whose feet he was not worthy to clean, and sent me to him, with the warning “it can take a while.” Since the MAN himself was hard to see, I was full of the fear of this sage’s appointment queue, and today I nerved myself up to call.

September 22. (Forty years in the desert.) I made the appointment. I also made a “start over” appointment with my humble yet proficient physician, and let the MAN know how high the peak and how covered in mist, and the terrible length of the journey.

My brother told me to get tested for the autoimmune problem that has made his life hell. Hey, why not?

I’m still a little upset that the nature of my ailment makes mall shooting sprees difficult. I could shoot lefty but I hate brass in my teeth, and I can’t even use a machete too well without my right hand. I guess I’ll have to go amok slapping people, or kicking them like the Black Night in Holy Grail.. Suck.

Our here now medical system in these united states

Since I had a visit to the E.R. brought by paramedic ambulance last week, I’m experiencing the classic aftereffect symptom: financial panic. I’m tensed for the blow when the bill arrives, prepared for my insurer to deny everything, ready to fight collection agencies and complain to commissioners and end up paying the whole thing outright on my credit card at 14% interest.

The old joke about bleeding heart liberals is that the difference between a liberal and a conservative is a police report. Good point; no one likes getting their ass kicked, and it doesn’t do much for your progressive values to have the pain and fight-or-flight chemicals running.

I’d add another rule, though. The difference between a conservative and a liberal is a hospital admission. Prosperous middle-class Americans who’ve never been seriously ill and have confidence in their medical plans are fooling themselves. They’re all only one illness away from total financial ruin. The insurer will deny claims, the hospital will press them, a collection agency will buy them, and no one will forgive anything. Welcome to Ayn Rand Memorial Medical Center, folks!

My pharmacist is now required by law to counsel me if the prescription is new. This is a fine idea in theory, since physicians don’t know everything about a drug and don’t take the time to discuss it. In practice, it’s a joke. I go to a 24-hour pharmacy in a drugstore chain and it’s understaffed. With my latest, I waited ten minutes before a rumpled and worried Indian man rushed out and said “It is diuretic. Do you have questions?” and then ran off. This is his usual practice.

When I got home I looked at the bottle and there was a sticker on it saying that I should stay out of direct natural or artificial sunlight. Sure enough, looking up the stuff revealed that it increases sensitivity to the sun and that special attention to sunscreen and protective clothing is strongly advised. What if the clerk hadn’t put the sticker on the thing, or I hadn’t looked? People around here have the hobby of lying in the sun.

Requiring professionals to do something vital and then giving them no time to do it doesn’t work. The invisible hand just punched me in the nuts again.