They should call it "Unsurance" not Insurance

Saturday, February 20, 2010 | 4 Comment(s)

To be honest, I was planning on, after yesterday's more serious post, coming back at you with a can't miss comedy from my past.  Oh, the best laid plans.  How they always fail.

Speaking of fail, today (the 19th) has been brought to you by the letters, F, A, I, & L.  Since it's best not to try and write nostalgic comedy when under the influence of stress-induced anger, the misadventures of young mattitiyahu will have to wait.  Hopefully, in its stead, you will enjoy the stupidity forced upon me as much as I detested it.  Enjoy.

Yesterday I called a prescription into the pharmacy.  This is not unusual, as my jovial attitude and kind disposition are the result of a good amount of therapy and low doses of anti-depression and anti-anxiety medication.  I also have more annoying, non-fatal, genetic flaws than I could have ever imagined.  We're talking lactose-intolerance, eye infections, deviated septum, ingrown hairs--it's an endless list.  So usually i am taking some medication to alleviate whatever form of annoying inconvenience my body has decided to serve up recently (im looking forward to future gluten-intolerance). A few minutes later the pharmacy called back and asked me to bring my insurance card with me, as they were having trouble getting the medication (which was essentially a refill) to go through my insurance.  This is common enough, as is the general incompetence of the pharmacy staff.

The next day, today, I brought my card to the pharmacy and gave it to them.   They said that their computer says that I do not currently have insurance coverage for drugs.  This being what I would consider one of the main functions of insurance, i was (i think understandably) concerned.  I went home and called my provider.  They said, their computer said (see a pattern), that my insurance had not been renewed as of 1/31/10.  So i currently had no health insurance, and I had no idea or inkling that my coverage had been discontinued.  Now I was worried.  I was shocked actually.  My own irresponsibility I can suffer, but doing everything "correctly" and ending up being left out to dry without my knowledge is firmly not ok.  I asked the insurance women who, at the university level, is responsible for letting the insurance company know that I should have insurance.  She said the university bursar's office.  And so my journey (taking place in the 45 free minutes I've had today [currently typing this at work in the lab]) continued to the bursar.

The woman on the other end of the phone sounded young.  Undergrad young.  I am sad to say that I am already jaded enough in my post-graduate career that when dealing with something as serious as my getting or not getting health coverage, I do not want my destiny in the hands of a UMass undergrad.  More on that another time (I do, in general, really enjoy both interacting and teaching undergrads).  Long story short here, the young woman said, that her computer said, that I am paying for health insurance, so I should have it.   My reaction: EXACTLY!  and (sarcastically) "well at least if i'm not getting covered, i'm paying for it."  Sigh.  I ask the woman, if this is the case, and she now knows it is, why the "unsurance" company still does not know it.  She tells me that this falls under the umbrella of "health services."  Which means, that she will transfer me.

Getting transferred is the emotionally equivalent of "it's not me, it's you."  Besides the fact that 30% of the times i've been transferred I've been disconnected (necessitating i start the whole phone chain process over), I usually end up feeling no closer to my goal than I started--and i have to repeat my situation over and over until I hate myself.  On some level all of this transferring, put on hold, talk to my supervisor, crap is designed to test how upset you REALLY are--and hoping that in the end you'll give up and just hang up.  I resent this.  As does any person who has ever had a problem that they could not ignore.

So the person I talk to at the health center asks what department I need.  I say insurance.  "Hold please, I'll transfer."  (*i look at the camera a la Jim from the Office)

Next woman, "Hello, how can I help you."  I begin to explain the situation.  She interrupts, "Ok, I'm going to transfer you to so-and-so, she deals with that insurance."  3rd transfer.  I'm hating myself.  I'm hating them.  But, in fairness, I do feel like I am getting closer to the epicenter of the problem.  Boy am I right.

Last woman, "How can I help you?"  I explain, again.  She tells me, that her computer says, that i am correct and I should have insurance, but they just haven't put the paperwork through yet.  I ask what that entails.  She says that they have to update my insurance "by hand."  "By hand" is another one of those expressions that has lost it's actual meaning, and now simply is used to denote something being laborious.  I mean, she isn't meant to take the computer apart and write in pencil that my insurance should be renewed on the inside--before replacing the cover.  She means, of course, that she must navigate onto her computer screen to a place where my info is stored, and most likely check a box.  This is not, in my opinion, laborious.  Boring, sure.  Laborious, no.

And even if it were difficult--it is Feb. 19th (full disclosure: I am now finishing this post on the 20th)--almost 3 full weeks from when they let my insurance expire.  If there is a pile of paper work that determines whether or not people are getting insurance coverage, wouldn't one assume that even if you were late in getting things done, you would not leave that particular pile left untouched for weeks on end?  Isn't this a fairly high priority pile?  I bet THEIR health coverage doesn't depend on any of the information in that pile.  Here, I briefly think to myself that if this woman transfers me I might have to bomb their building.  Thankfully, sh"e does not.

This is my god damn health coverage.  Check the fucking boxes sister!  And not just mine.  Check the fucking boxes of everyone who has been deemed to be paying for their insurance and yet stil doesn't have it.  I feel like im teaching this woman the basics of her job by hand.  By which i mean that it feels laborious talking to this woman's dimwittedness.  I ask her if she realizes that this "oversight" (i'm doing my best to stay calm.  I do not say, "laziness, incompetence, stupidity, apathy, . . .) has prevented me from getting my medications (i purposely don't specify which meds--cause i want her to feel badly about this).  She apologizes and says she will rush it through.  I say a somewhat curt, "thank you--that would be appreciated."  I know I'm being kind of a bitch here, but come on!!!  I rarely get too steamed, but me not having health insurance because of, from what i get tell, no good reason, is seriously uncool.  I would not go to a middle school dance with this problem--it would ruin my reputation.

And another thing.  I emphasized how much of this problem was diagnosed along the way by computer screens.  There is this thing called "the internet" now.   Let's get these computers talking and figure out a way to streamline this problem.  But lets face it, i'll probably be going to see a robot doctor before we see the health care/insurance system streamlined.  A boy can dream.


  1. Actually, I admire your restraint in this matter. What part of this is hard to understand--I'm entitled to the insurance, I'm friggin *paying* the premiums, but as of this moment, I don't *have* actual coverage because you people are dicking around. You can bet your ingrown-hairy, robe-pampered, locker-room-lech-magnet ass that if you had some catastrophic illness diagnosed that day, or were badly injured, your claim would be denied because you technically weren't covered. And that's beyond unacceptable.

  2. You're right of course. I should have let her have it more. But I always worry that the person I end up screaming at isn't necessarily the one responsible for the problem, and I wouldn't want to berate someone for their co-workers bad. That said. I really should have let it out more. If I don't have coverage on monday, maybe i'll get my chance.

  3. I totally hear that, and as someone who has worked in customer service before--and whose parents are both call center operators for a cable company--that's exactly how I would behave. You get further by being polite than by being a dick anyway. But in *this* instance, that office put you in tremendous jeopardy. I wouldn't yell at the woman, and I might say somethng to the effect that I know it's not her fault personally, but it is her job to take these calls and she is a representative of that office to the world. It may be *no* single person's fault, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be outraged.

    This actually hits home for me, because just yesterday I flew to the emergency room in a terror because I thought I had found a malignancy. Turned out to be (very probably) nothing. But if I had no coverage yesterday, and if it *were* something, I woulda been fuct.
    The point is, I didn't wake up yesterday thinking I would be at the emergency room. And here you're taking about maybe having your coverage back by Monday. Matt, I hope nothing bad *ever* happens to you, but I particularly hope nothing bad happens between now and Monday.

  4. John. I can't tell you how happy your comment will make my parents.