Wednesday, February 23

Make Up Your Mind

About a month ago I received (YET ANOTHER) bill in the mail from the hospital where I had my pulmonology workup, for $123. I called the hospital and asked (nicely), "WTF?!" This was the first time I'd seen a bill in this amount.

The woman had looked up the account and quickly informed me that the bill had been sent in error; they had not yet sent the bill to insurance and I was not responsible for it. I was relieved, I thanked her, I hung up.

This week I got a notice that we have been sent to collections for this same bill.

Is it really just me?

Sam's Club Embarrassment

I ran to Sam's Club tonight. I got there at 7 p.m. and the automatic doors were locked shut. Sam's is open until 8:30. People were inside. A couple joined me at the door, peering inside. A Sam's employee stood near the entrance, staring back at us. We gestured to the door. He stared back. We pointed to our watches. He stared back. We KNOCKED on the door. He stared back.

"What is UP?!" I asked the other people.

"I don't know!" one responded. It was below freezing and we were shivering.

Finally, after a literal 3-4 minutes of us gesticulating, the employee pointed to the exit door. We went around. Those doors were open, and we went in. I stormed to the entrance and demanded of the employee, "What's the problem?" He replied, "The doors were closed."

Huffily, I grabbed a cart. As I walked away, he went over to the automatic doors and unlocked them.

After I got what I needed, I asked the cashier for a manager. When the manager appeared, I told her about the incident. She said to me, "Ohhhhh, yes. I don't mean to downplay your inconvenience, but he's rather slow. Sometimes his mind just doesn't fire, you know?"

I felt sooooo embarrassed. In my defense, this kind of outright disservice is not out of the realm of my everyday experience; however, it occurred to me that I should have realized the man had some mental issues and was not completely obtuse.

Before I could reply, the manager asked me to stay put, and she disappeared. When she returned, she handed me a coupon for a free rotisserie chicken on my next visit for my inconvenience. I thanked her, but I felt pretty bad. I told her I was glad that Sam's gave people the opportunity for employment, and maybe someone should just keep an eye to make sure the front doors didn't get locked again . . . and I made a quick exit, still blushing.

Maryland's Mythical Department of Health

We are sick of our mold. Our landlord has been kept abreast of the situation for months. Once they sent a maintenance guy out with some spray paint to touch up the windowsills. Great-- but that doesn't help the ceiling or the walls. It's disgusting, and it's probably a health hazard. When I confronted the landlord in person, he said, "If I send somebody out to take care of it, are they just going to come back and tell me you're a bad housekeeper?" I'm not talking about a moldy shower curtain, buddy.

Anyway, we decided to step things up and phone the department of health to report them.

However, I am not actually sure the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene actually exists. When I dialed them today, I pressed the correct option in the phone tree, then listened to the phone ring exactly 6 times before a recording informed me that everyone was busy, please try my call again later-- followed by a click, and silence.

Oh, right, like I have the time to call them a hundred times a day to attempt to get through? I called ten times today with no luck. Sure, the one time I want to be put on hold . . .

Wendy's: Coup de Grace

Wow. This one was so good, it's bordering on unbelievable. Fortunately Jared was with me to corroborate.

It has been awhile since we drove thru junk food in an effort to trim our budget. This was our treat.

Some treat! First of all, the speaker was so loud it was painful (I actually covered my ears) and it was so garbled I could hardly communicate with the guy. (Then again, since when has a Wendy's order-taker actually "communicated" with me?)

Order: mandarin chicken salad, #2 combo no mayo no bun with Diet Coke. When we pulled up to the window, the guy asked, "Did you want the Asian dressing with the salad?" "Ummm, it comes with it," I replied. (To Jared: "No, we want RANCH with our Chinese chicken salad.")

What we got: well, I handed Jared the bag containing his salad, and peeked inside my bag. First thing I noticed: I had no fork. I asked for one. While the window dude disappeared to fetch a fork, Jared commented, "I didn't get any noodles or almonds." So when he returned with my fork, I asked for the noodles and almonds. He disappeared again.

While he was gone AGAIN, I inspected my burger more closely . . . only to discover a mysterious white glop gunking things up. ACK!

Window opens, two packets were handed to me. I handed them to Jared and informed the guy, "ALSO, I ordered this no mayo," and extend the burger toward him. He snatched it, gave me a dirty look, and said, "I don't MAKE the food."

I blinked. "That's fine," I told him, "send the cook over and I'll tell him how I want it." He disappeared again with a scowl. (At this point I was starting to worry about them spitting in my food.)

While we were waiting, Jared exclaimed, "NO WAY." I looked at him. "These are PECANS," he said. Oh right. Pecans for the mandarin chicken salad. Hoo boy.

Then a different, female, face appeared in the window. I guess the dude got sick of us. She handed me my now mayoless burger, and I handed HER the pecans and said, "I'm sorry, these are supposed to be almonds for the salad." She grabbed the right nuts, handed them to me, and we finally drove out of the drive-thru, feeling shell-shocked.

Then Jared said, in disbelief . . . "I didn't get a fork."

I parked and let him go inside for one.

I think we MUST stop patronizing this Wendy's.

Saturday, February 12

Rite Aid: With Us, It's Impersonalâ„¢

Tonight I ran to Rite Aid to buy some pregnancy tests (for experimentation purposes, for my website darling, Pee On A Stick.) The cashier was talking to a friend on her cell phone during our entire transaction.

As I walked out the door, I set the store alarm off . . . because Ms. Chats-A-Lot had been so distracted she forgot to demagnetize my items.

I just kept walking.

Friday, February 11

Aetna Again

Yesterday I got a call from the nice office manager at the pulmonologist's office. She wanted to let me know that they had received "yet another" request for information from Aetna, as she called it. She called Aetna to inform them they had ALREADY submitted the information. And the Aetna lady clicked around her computer and finally acknowledged, oh yes, they had already received all the information they have been requesting for so long, but it had not been properly entered into the computer system. It would take some time to resolve, she said.

So after ALL THIS, it turns out Aetna already HAS all the information they're "waiting for" from the doctors. They just didn't put it into their system right!

Can you hear my frustration causing my brain matter to leak out my ears? Perhaps now we'll get somewhere, though.

At least that's what I was thinking until another form came in the mail only a few hours later. Identical to the one I filled out a year ago, asking for information on this "pre-existing condition," including doctors I saw and medications I took. This time, however, the date of service was not October 28, but rather, October 1. I didn't see ANY doctor on October 1, leaving me to wonder, what condition are they asking about?!

I would say I give up, but it turns out the $800+ bill was from the hospital for use of their pulmonological diagnostic equipment. The pulmonologist himself has a bill for $300+ they've been (kindly) waiting to send me until after the insurance finally gives them an actual payment or denial . . . and the insurance has been stringing them along for 15 months, as well.

Did I mention I hate Aetna? I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns, as my friend Suso would say. No calamity is to great to befall them. Bah!

Monday, February 7

Insurance, sigh

Got this e-mail today.


I did leave you a voicemail with the results of my search. You have
never been listed as a dependent or purchased [university] dependent insurance.
Just wanted to make sure you got that info.

My reply . . . rather defeatist:

I got the message, and frankly, I haven't been sure
how to respond to that.

I had a[n insurance] card with the [university] logo at the top
with *my* name on it (*in addition* to the [Jared's employer]
coverage-- there was a semester where Jared was not
working enough hours to qualify at [employer] and so we
bought the [university] health plan.)

We wrote a check to [university] for the amount of a student
plus spouse/dependent. If you have no record of this
whatsoever, something is very, very wrong.
Unfortunately, we did not keep old insurance cards in
our move. So I'll chalk this up to another
unbelievable corporate snafu (I have a knack for
finding them) and lose out on $850 reimbursement from
my current insurance company. I don't have the time
or energy to make waves, which would end up fruitless


Thursday, February 3

Insurance: Gotta Hear It To Believe It

Every now and then you hear a really classic explanation/policy/law that really takes the cake. Guess who's got the cake today . . . haha. Here we go.

Recap: while pregnant, I suffered from (rare) pregnancy-induced asthma. My ob referred me to a pulmonologist for a full battery of tests. The bill: $846.37. Insurance, however, kept denying the claim pending "more information from physicians." In the meantime, the pulmy sent us to collections and we paid up to keep our credit report clean. Now, we are seeking reimbursement personally from insurance. (These tests were from October of 2003. 15 months later, we're still getting the run-around.)

The original statement was that the insurance (Aetna) would need proof of prior continuous insurance coverage to approve the claim. Read the previous entries and you'll see why that route is impossible. I realized, however, that Aetna is treating this as a pre-existing condition rather than pregnancy-related. If they acknowledge it is pg-related, they are obliged to pay up in full without proof of prior coverage. So I tried that tack.

Well, in order to confirm it is pregnancy-related and not pre-existing, they are requesting medical records from various physicans to ensure that I have never before been treated for asthma. Apparently they have been sending out "requests for information" to "two physicians." I wanted to know which two, so I could call their offices and gently remind them to please get that information in the mail ASAP.

"I can't tell you," the Aetna lady replied.

Apparently it would violate federal law to tell me which of my OWN doctors they want more information from. I pointed out that obviously, 15 months later, these offices have dropped the ball or Aetna is using incorrect addresses or or or or . . . I'd like to verify, myself, that the doctors have received these requests and are formulating a response soon.

She still can't tell me.

Well, what do I do now? I wanted to know. I have a finite amount of time before Aetna can deny the claim permanently. I find it ODD that TWO doctors are ignoring these requests. I smell a rat, frankly.

"Well, you can try to call the doctors yourself," she said, "and ask them to forward the relevant records to us."

"WHICH doctors?!" I wanted to know.

"I can't tell you," she repeated.

I asked if she could tell me what KIND of doctors they are-- obstetricians? Pulmonologists? Rheumatologists? (Due to some chronic health issues I have seen a boatload of doctors-- I don't know which two they might have chosen, or why.) I was hoping to narrow the field. Nope, can't tell me. Okay . . . if I guess their names, can you tell me? Nope.

So now I am waiting for two doctors to reply to another plea from Aetna to forward my records. Which two? Don't know.

I even got on the phone and called a few myself. All, naturally, deny receiving any requests for information from Aetna.

I think, my friends, that the $846.37 and I are permanently parted.

Insurance Uh-Oh

Yesterday there was a message on the machine from a woman from our old insurance department at the university. She reaffirmed that they have no record of dependent coverage. I feel despair coming on.

How exactly does one prove this? Assuming the company is missing records, as is the case here-- we paid the student + dependent coverage rate. I had an insurance card with the university name, the insurance carrier, my name, and my SSN. This was over a year ago, though-- I'm betting we don't have any canceled checks or leftover insurance cards to prove any of this. I swear, in this day and age of CYA, one needs a giant vault for all this old crap.

I am grumpy.

In other news, recently we actually opened some junk mail offering a credit card with a low introductory APR. We decided to transfer our current credit card debt to this new card and enjoy 15 months interest-free. They could not tell me over the phone what my credit limit would be, however. Yesterday I got a letter indicating that the new credit card limit would be less than half of the current card. Screw that! I'm not going to keep two cards; we had intended to cancel the first. Now I have to cancel this second card and hope they didn't already begin the balance transfer. (Ha ha-- get it? HOPE they haven't already started something that would make life more difficult for me? Hehehe. Listen to me, all cute and delusional . . .)

Tuesday, February 1

Insurance Debacle

I need proof of past insurance before Aetna will pay out for $830 worth of pulmonology tests from when I was pregnant. Of course, to complicate things, we switched our insurance from Company 1 to Company 2 and back to Company 1 because Hubby Dearest was alternating coverage under school and work. I contacted Company 1 to get the proof of coverage from the two different time periods.

They e-mailed me back today:


Our records show that there has never been dependent insurance purchased. The only insurance charges on the fee bill were for student insurance only. Do you want a letter indicating the student coverage and dates?

My response (in part):

No. The relevant information is the dependent coverage. And it WAS purchased. I received medical attention during those time periods, and insurance was billed, and consequently disbursed funds. I had an insurance card with my name on it (as the dependent.)

[Internal Monologue: Like hell.]

At this point, we have paid the $830 out of pocket (because Aetna kept denying the claim until they get this proof of past coverage, and the pulmonologist sent us to collections) and am trying to get this information so Aetna will reimburse us. And now my proof of insurance has gone incommunicado.

We're way beyond MIA ketchup.