Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Toilet Zone: The Adventure Continues

And I thought my adventures in trying to secure a new health policy and keep my doctors under Obamacare were over.  Silly me. 

Okay, where were we?

I’ve posted five previous entries about the grand time I’ve had trying to get a new insurance policy and keep my doctors after Obamacare erased the old one, all of which I had to do in the midst of a major medical crisis (“Mr. Carr, how are you today?  Never mind, we’re about to tell you:  There’s a four centimeter mass on your left kidney”).  In the course of trying to deal with this, I received confused, incorrect and conflicting advice and directions from the fine folks at, and confused, incorrect, and conflicting advice and directions from my new health insurance company.  Among other things, I was led to believe that my doctors were on the new plan when they weren’t, which forced me to switch from the government Exchange policy to a private one offered by the same company.  Then I was told the new policy was in effect when it wasn’t.  For a period of several weeks no one with the company could tell me what premium or premiums I needed to pay or when I needed to pay them.   

In our last episode, after having spent many hours on hold over a period of several days, and having spoken to 19 different people (that’s not a typo—nineteen) finally someone was able to give me a definitive answer about when the new policy would take effect (May, not April as I had been informed previously) and what I owed.  Within seconds of finally getting that information, I paid the due amount by credit card in full.  And I thought that wrapped it up, which is why I titled entry #4 “Emergence from the Toilet Zone.”


At the end of May I received two bills—one for the old account, which had been canceled, and one for the new one.  In my earlier desperate quest for answers, no one had told me about any past due amount for the old account.  So on receiving the new bills, I should have gotten back on the line with Customer Service yet again to sort out what appeared to be the latest in a long, long series of errors and misinformation.  But having invested many hours in such activities in the past (and racking up an additional $100+ in phone charges for blowing my plan minutes listening to hold music), I decided, perhaps foolishly, just to pay both of them.  That should have brought me totally up to date.

So imagine my surprise when this weekend I opened a past due notice for the new account.  My memory seemed clear that I had paid this bill on time, but that’s why God created banking programs.  First I checked my Quicken files—yes, I had paid both bills soon after receipt, with the checks going into the mail on May 26.  But now I was holding a past due notice dated June 12 claiming I had paid nothing and still owed the full amount.  “If payment is not received in our office by June 30, 2014,” it warned me, “your account may be terminated.”

Well, rain and sleet and snow and all that notwithstanding, the Postal Service does lose one on occasion.  Maybe it sent my payment to Ghana.  So, the next obvious step was to check on line with my bank account.  I did so.  Guess what?  Both checks had cleared the bank, one on May 30 and the other on June 2, ten full days before the past due notice went out.

As many such payment-duns do, the notice said that if the money had “recently been remitted, disregard this notice.” Well, the payment had not recently been remitted, given that the company had cashed my check a week and a half before sending out the demand.  With the threatened cancellation date just one week away, and given the previous mass confusion I’d encountered with this company, it seemed pretty risky to just sit on my hands and “disregard this notice,” hoping nothing bad would happen. 

Sigh.  Customer Service, here I come.  It’ll be interesting to see if you recognize my voice.

After dialing, I connected to a real human being within a reasonable amount of time.  She had a bit of trouble researching the accounts, for which she apologized, explaining that she was having to access three different systems (a point on which I’ve written before).  But she confirmed that both of my accounts were fully up to date.  I pointed out that I still had not received my July bill, and asked her when I might see that.  The computer informed her that it had gone out June 13, one day after the past-due notice.  Not having gotten it, and not wanting to receive another stern finger-wag and cancellation threat in the mail, I offered to pay by credit card.  She gave me the number of what she said would be an automated system where I could do that.

I called the number, navigated the voice mail and got a live human being.  Fine.  While I had him, I thought it might be useful to have him re-verify what I’d just been told, which he did.  I then asked to pay my July bill.  He checked, and then informed me that according to his system I only owed $59.10.

As it happens, this is the precise difference between the premium for my discontinued Exchange policy and the new private one.  Clearly, the payment I’d sent in for the old account had been applied to the new one.  This was now rising to the level of a laugh riot, given that my account not only was  not past due, it was paid ahead.   But if the payment for the old account had been misapplied to the new one in error, this could mean that my old account was now in arrears, which meant I still had a problem. 

Trying my best to conceal my mirth and merriment, I explained all this to the employee.  He double checked and assured me that, no, both accounts were up to date and I only owed $59.10 for July.  I paid it by credit card.

Does this settle the matter?  Will this clueless health insurance company dun Forrest for more payments after telling him he's paid up?  Will it turn him over to a collection agency?  Will the company cancel his policy?  Will he come down with some other form of organ rot, requiring another expensive medical intervention in the midst of another insurance crisis?

Stay tuned.

By the way, did I mention that my insurance company just announced that it plans to raise its Exchange policy rates here in Arizona by 14% next year, and its PPO rates (the type of plan to which I now belong) by 15.9%?  Just like that, my premium would go up by $112.  Sweet.   This is no surprise.  I'm sure it costs a lot of money to have 20 employees standing by for every customer with a question.

I wonder how much a can of Alpo costs....


You can find the entire series of blog posts on my medical journey on this page:  My Medical Travails:  Adventures in the Toilet Zone.  And of course, I invite you to check out my author's page, where you can learn about my novels, see critic and reader reviews, download sample chapters, and find purchase links:

© 2014 by Forrest Carr.  All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment