Health Un-Care

I yelled at someone. I shouldn't have. It doesn't matter that she was talking over me so I couldn't express my frustration in a reasonable way. It doesn't matter that she wasn't doing her job. It doesn't matter that she mistreated my wife.  

I'm a Christian. I'm supposed to be better than that. And I know better.

Here's how it started.

A few months ago - okay, that's a joke - back in January my wife was sent to the hospital lab for routine pregnancy tests. Our health insurance wouldn't cover some of them. Yes, just some.  Really weird - since they were all related and since they were all covered the last time around.

So we called people. A bunch of people. And the best help we could get was to ask our doctor for a letter stating that the tests were 'medically necessary'. I guess there are some people who ask for tests to be done. We're not those people. We don't understand those people. 

While making all those calls my wife came into contact with someone at the doctor's office that was supposed to help. She told my wife that there were a bunch of people having the same problems and that we didn't have to worry, they would be resolved.

Every time we asked for that simple 'medically necessary' letter, we were ignored, talked over, or told that it wasn't necessary, they would take care of it.

'Take care of it' is a funny phrase, considering that for the past three or four months we've been getting bills from the lab.

We gave the doctors office copies of our bills, copies of the itemized bill we requested form the lab. But we never got the letter we requested. And the repeat bills kept coming. 

I was told not to worry, they'd send the doctor's letter along. I asked for them to send a copy when they did. Never came.

Finally, today, my wife was told they spoke with the lab and all was paid. They also told her they had spoken with me. Again 'spoken' and 'paid' must have different meanings because then never called me and I just got a bill from the lab. I decided to call the lab. No payment on record. 

Wow. I just must not understand a thing about medical billing. Seems 'paid' means 'not paid'.

My wife told them I spoke with the lab, and asked they call me. When they called I was a bit frustrated. I tried to explain that I had just spoke with the lab and it wasn't paid. They kept talking over me. 

So I raised my voice. I'm not defending it, I know better. At that point the part of me I try not to listen to was talking. 

Of course they threatened to hang up unless I lowered my voice. So I asked - more calmly - if they would listen to me. They told me to listen to them and started claiming that they had spoken to me. They claimed they spoke with the lab today and that it was paid.

Somehow me calling them three weeks again, again asking for the letter counted as them keeping me in the loop.

Then magically there was a difference between the 'lab' and the 'hospital lab'. If the bill was coming form the 'hospital lab', then there was nothing they could do. 

Really? Then why didn't they tell us that months ago when we explained where the charges were from. Or how about a month ago, when we gave the copies of the bills from the 'hospital lab'? Or why didn't they just give me the letter I asked for months ago so I could handle it. I never once asked them to take care of it for us. In fact, time and time again we asked them to give us the letter so we could take care of it ourselves.

So for months they had been working on a problem they now tell us couldn't possibly be solved by them.

Makes perfect sense to me.

The call basically ended with me again asking for the letter, and them telling me they would send it. Or I should say 'yelling' at me. Then they hung up on me.

I'm not holding my breath for the letter.

But once that was all over, I decided to call the insurance company one more time. After all, I wanted to deal directly with them, I had spoken with them in the past, and they were the ones who told me to send a doctor's letter along with my dispute of their coverage.

When they brought up the charges they told me there had been some coverage changes and they would resubmit the claim and it would be paid.

I asked, "Would this have been paid if I didn't call right now? I was told it was already being paid, is that possible."

The answer - in no uncertain terms.


So for weeks the doctor's office had copies of our bills showing clearly what lab wasn't paid and what the charges were - and they accomplished nothing. For months we had been requesting a letter from the doctor. And got nothing. 

All the times I've called customer support for the products and software and services my clients and I use - I've never been treated with so much condescension, so rudely, or provoked to raising my voice. 

It was worse than Toshiba, and they arguably stole from me. It was worse than TASCAM, and calling their support is like volunteering to be roasted by the worse members of a no-talent local comedy club when they're in a bad mood. And if they hate you.

Someone's not doing their job here. Considering that the main contact at the doctor's office has been there 10 years, I'd venture that there are a few people not doing their job.

But what's the moral of this whole story? I'm not really sure. I'm torn between outrage at how my wife and I were treated and regret that I responded in a way that I know I shouldn't. My lesson is that I need to 'cast my burdens' in the right place when I feel my temper rising. 

How about HealthCare? Well, I think the more people and institutions that come between patient and doctor the less 'care' there is in the system. I'll leave it to you to decide whether any legislation passed or being considered will help in that regard.

Oh, and I think if more people were fired for not doing the job, the world would be a better place. And there would be jobs. Just not for people who don't do them.

But that's just me. 

Tim Lytle [06/24/10 17:03:31] | 0 Comments | Stream