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We Live to Serve You!

Oh, sure.  I know everybody hates his medical insurance company.  But I like to think I hate mine — or my father’s, to be more precise — more than you hate yours.

I’m staring at a great big envelope we just got back from Daddy’s drug insurance company.  I am seething with resentment and the beginnings of what may be a migraine.  Inside, the form letter assures me how very much the company wants to serve us.  It just needs more information.

I first submitted a claim about three months ago.  It was returned about a month later.  More information needed!  Did he really have Alzheimer’s, ha, ha?

I brooded, I complained, I eventually resubmitted with more information (doctor, precise prescription, diagnosis, astrological sign, favorite color, whatever else they wanted).  Another month passed.  I finally got back my original claim, which had gone to the insurance company’s “old” address and hadn’t been forwarded to its new one.  Finally, by Pony Express, it had come back here.

I kind of went ballistic at that point, even though I’m not the kind of person who goes ballistic.  I’m more of a brooder.  I gnashed my teeth and swore and glared.  As those things go, you can imagine how much good it did.  In the meantime, my father’s bank account balance was plummeting and he/we could use the money.

Then this most recent outrage.  What do they want now?  I don’t know, because I’m so infuriated I can’t read their letter.

I believe this is the same insurance company that still lists my mother as a dependent, even though she’s been dead since 1997.  Every time I saw her name, I got upset.  I called the company and spent three days on hold.  I wrote them and heard nothing back.  Her name is still on the policy.

I’m really not a conspiracy theorist.  I’m so trusting, I still believe in the Lee Harvey Oswald lone-gunman theory.  Life is random, things fall apart, the center exploded all over the place.

But, dealing with insurance companies over the years, I’ve become a conspiracy theorist in a small, dark, primitive part of my brain, where dinosaurs roam and buzzards gather and low fires simmer.

“They” are trying to keep the money my father worked for for decades.  “They” are in cahoots with evil forces.  “They” are trying to drive me crazy, trying to wear me down, trying to get me to walk away.  That’s how “they” thrive — by driving us nuts, beating us down, making us salvage our sanity by trying to forget them and what they owe us.

I can’t read their letter yet.  But I will, when I stop seething.  When I come to what is euphemistically known as my “senses.”  I will give them what they want, those lousy, scheming, cheapskate, malicious, low-life scum of the earth.

Oh, excuse me.  I guess I really need to get control of myself.  What I really meant to say was, Aren’t we lucky?  After all, we have medical insurance.  Imagine what life is like for people who don’t.

(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Cindy A April 1, 2009, 11:55 am

    Oh, Lord, please help Obama reform our health care and health insurance system so that it helps sick people instead of corporate conglomerates. 

    Surprisingly, the top cause of bankruptcy for people who DO have insurance:  medical bills. 

    People die because our health care system is not designed to help sick people.  It’s designed to make money. Now is the time for Americans to stand up and stop being hoodwinked by the scare-mongers (who incidentally happen to be the same people who profit from health care).

  • Duchess April 1, 2009, 5:32 pm

    I hope Obama can sort it out.  But I think it is hard to find a good balance.  In England there has been an ongoing controversy because the main drugs used to treat Alzheimers were withdrawn from people with early stage Alzheimers and made available only to those in more advanced stages of the disease. 

    I do not think the current US system is fair.  In fact I don’t think it is worthy of a decent society.  But if I were one of the lucky ones with insurance I would rather be sick there than here.

  • ruthpennebaker April 1, 2009, 5:55 pm

    Oh, Duchess!  Do you know how depressing it is to hear that?

  • Steve April 1, 2009, 6:41 pm

    Starting a thread that will inspire rants about medical insurance and the healthcare system is dangerous; it may become the Tomato that Ate Chicago.

    The Toyota Republicans blame the unions for the downfall of the Big Three, who have one million retirees to provide for.   If we had a universal health care system that took that burden from Detroit, Detroit could flourish (if they only built high quality, attractive, fun cars that people actually wanted).

    On a positive note, I got a $200 a month raise from the death of my father.  That’s the amount I was paying for his monthly health insurance premium.  His primary retirement benefit (retiring from an INSURANCE company) was free health coverage for life to go with his $68.47 monthly annuity payment.  Of course, such a promised benefit is excused by law if the company is sold; the new company is not bound by the obligations of the former.  So the “free” coverage suddenly had a premium that alone was about three times the annuity payment.

    As I said, you really shouldn’t get this thread started.  Too many of us share this pain.

  • ruthpennebaker April 2, 2009, 10:26 am

    I found it far healthier to rant in a blog than turn to my more violent fantasies.  These people are creeps.  Or have I said that already?

  • Steel Phoenix April 2, 2009, 2:43 pm

    Just be glad we didn’t end up with HillaryCare; her policy of making insurance mandatory would have made sure that the insurance companies could charge whatever they want without danger of losing customers.

    In the current crisis, insurance companies are all about liquidity. They are run like a giant Ponzi scheme. They don’t pool everyone’s money and save it for catastrophy, they live month to month like the rest of the nation. When times are tough, they get more stingy. Do you think they got this big by writing a lot of checks? They intend to charge you several times more than you take out.

    The unions are a big portion of why the big 3 fell. The companies were unable to simply shrink to fit the economy when things went bad, because the unions had negotiated parting bonuses and pensions so high that it was more expensive to lay people off than to keep them. I’m not against the existence of unions, but at the size of an organization the size of the autoworkers union, there are people whose job it is to see how many dues have been collected and how long the company could hold out against a strike. The Union leaders are elected, and like public officials, they want to look busy and appear to be making gains for their supporters. When there is enough money in the pool, they strike regardless of whether it is healthy for the company they work for. They bite the hand that feeds them.

    The <a href =”http://www.toyotarepublicans.com”>Toyota Republicans</a> are happy the big 3 have unions. They are looking out for themselves. Being non union, they prefer the competitive advantage, and those southern politicians are voting in the best interests of foreign plants in their state. Their votes against bailouts were a vote against American companies in favor of Japanese, not against union operation at GM. I’m against protectionism in a general sense, but I can see universal health care as a valid variant. Unlike tariffs and bailouts, health care doesn’t expand or make the companies noncompetitive. Once the workers are healthy, you gain no competitive advatage by giving them further care. Most of the nations we compete with provide care for their workers.

  • Duchess April 2, 2009, 5:00 pm

    Yes, believe me, I know how depressing that is.

    Even so I think we do it better than you.  And even though I know for sure that some people die here a couple of years, maybe more, before they would die there, if they were insured.

    On the other hand no family is ever bankrupted by medical bills.  And desperately ill children are cared for, usually.

  • Steel Phoenix April 2, 2009, 11:41 pm

    Our government takes care of its own pencil pushers before those who pay their wages. Having most insurance that isn’t government sponsored isn’t really lucky, because as illustrated, they are weasels. 

    We have privatized our profits and socialized our losses in this country. It isn’t the fault of the right or the left, but of the center. Good compromise lies not at the midpoint between opposites, but in the seeking of common ground.

  • Winston April 3, 2009, 1:45 am

    Regarding your mention of your mother still being listed on the policy even though she has been gone many years: it is amazing that so simple a task as updating info on a record (no doubt on a computer where the updated info can be easily typed in and a “save” button clicked) can’t be carried out in a timely fashion. It’s no wonder then that getting a valid claim OK’d becomes a lifelong crusade! Good luck!

    In a similar vein, I once received a letter addressed to my father from the sales office of a cemetery, soliciting interest in the possibility of my father purchasing one of their plots.
    Well, at that time, my father was already lying in one of their plots, and had been for eighteen years!  I attached a note to the letter and mailed it back.  The note: “May I suggest you ask Mr. __________ personally? Just walk over to lot #65 near the fountain and inquire. Don’t be shy, he won’t bite.  He’s been right there waiting patiently for your visit for eighteen years.”

    I never got a reply— or an apology.

    Sometimes levity is the only sane response to absurdity.

  • pajamadeen April 4, 2009, 3:31 pm

    “…no family is ever bankrupted by medical bills.”

    Excuse me?  Medical bankruptcy is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States.  MANY families go bankrupt over medical bills. 

    Every developed country in the world has universal health care…except for the United States.  I’m an American, but I find this a sad statement about our society.

  • Ashley Patterson October 19, 2009, 3:33 pm

    The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and WITNESS screened the new elder justice campaign video at a briefing on Capitol Hill today.
    “An Age for Justice: Confronting Elder Abuse in America,” a new video produced by the Elder Justice Now campaign, shows the families and individuals whose lives have been turned upside down by elder abuse.
    The video provides stark proof of the financial, emotional, physical and psychological impact of the violence and abuse that an estimated five million Americans face every day.
    We hear from Vicki Bastion, 92, who installed a security gate inside her home to protect her and what valuables she had left from her grandson and his gang‐related friends; Betty Beckle talks about her daughter beating her; Bob Lee tells us about his father, who was victimized by a paid caregiver; and Pat Wilson tells us about her husband, who has Alzheimer’s disease and was victimized financially by a young woman in Las Vegas. The video was produced by NCOA and WITNESS, to shine the light on what oneinterviewee called a “dark mark on our humanity.”
    Be one of the first to watch the video and take action on this issue at http://elderjusticenow.org/.

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