Sunday, April 30, 2017

My Twenty-Eight Cents Worth

by Pa Rock

I am well insured.  I have Medicare, Parts A, B, and D, which covers a big portion of my medical needs including hospitalization, doctor visits, and prescription drugs.  Because Medicare falls short of covering all of my medical needs, I also have a standard Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy that I transferred over from my last job.  The BC/BS policy acts as a supplement and, in theory, covers all that Medicare fails to take care of.  I pay dearly for all of that coverage.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield, being omnipotent and having a predisposition toward making life difficult for their customers, occasionally balks at doing their supplemental share.  My most recent bout with the company occurred when it questioned my doctor’s judgment on a particular drug, one the company deemed too expensive, and wanted the physician to provide a written justification for his decision on the type of treatment I required.  It took me, the patient, several different sets of phone calls, both to the insurance company as well as to the doctor, to get the matter resolved.

But this is America, and in America doctors prescribe, insurance companies impede, and the patients are left to do the hard work of ironing out any problems along the way.  Individuals without the support, time, or resources to fight their way through the medical and insurance jungles that pass for modern health care in this country are poop-out-of-luck.

A few years ago, right after I retired and moved back to the Ozarks, Blue Cross/Blue Shield began sending me occasional checks, usually for an amount of somewhere between ten and twenty dollars.  I didn’t know what they were for – and really didn’t care.  I just put them in the bank, secure in the knowledge that no one at BC/BS was missing any meals on my account. 

After a year or so of these sporadic donations to my retirement, I got a very uptight letter from BC/BS telling me that I was in receipt of more than two hundred dollars which did not belong to me.  Not wanting anyone on their end to miss Christmas, I hurriedly sent off a check in the amount the insurance giant demanded.  I also spent the better part of a day on the phone until I reached a lady who was able to locate me in the company’s database.  She assured me that the error was theirs and it would not be repeated.

Then, of course, another check arrived.  I began a careful register of each check to include the check number, the amount, and the date it was written.   I am currently in receipt of more than a hundred dollars of BC/BS money.  At some point in the not too distant future I am sure that I will be receiving another angry demand that I immediately return the money – which I will.  Again, it falls on the customer to fix things.

Last week I got another check from the accounting geniuses at Blue Cross/Blue Shield.    That check was for twenty-eight cents – undoubtedly not even enough to cover the “pre-sorted, first class” postage that it took to mail the check.   I haven’t deposited that check yet because I am thinking about having it framed – or saving it to use as the down-payment when the company rages at me with its next demand for repayment.

All of that grief is from a private insurer.  Medicare on the other hand usually gives me no grief whatsoever.

It is well past time for a  comprehensive, single-payer health care system in America!  There, I've said it.  That's my twenty-eight cents worth!

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