This Debt Collector Had Better Hope HE Has Insurance

, , , , , | Healthy | March 29, 2020

(I’m a broke college student supporting myself with student loans, whatever hours I can get at my work-study job, and the small amount of money my parents can spare. Luckily, I’m still on my parents’ insurance. When I get into a bad bike accident and have to get stitches and x-rays at the hospital, their insurance covers the bill. It’s been a couple of months since then when I answer a call from a number I don’t recognize.)

Caller: “Am I speaking to [My Name]?”

Me: “This is her.”

Caller: “My name is [Caller], and I’m calling on behalf of [Debt Collection Agency] about an unpaid medical bill.”

Me: “What? I didn’t think I had any unpaid bills.”

Caller: “The bill is [amount] for an ambulance ride on [date of the bike accident].”

Me: “But my insurance covered that!”

Caller: “Sometimes insurance doesn’t cover certain services, like ambulances, if they are seen as unnecessary.”

(The ambulance was definitely necessary since there was a suspicion at the time that I’d seriously injured my neck and I was bleeding profusely from my head.)

Caller: “The billing department attempted to contact you multiple times, but you’ve consistently ignored them. Now the bill has been sent to us, and it will negatively affect your credit. However, if you pay it right now, we can try to remove it from your credit report. How will you be paying today, [Card #1] or [Card #2]?”

Me: “Um, I won’t be paying today. I need to contact my insurance company to see what’s going on. This should have been covered, and I’ve never heard of it before today.”

Caller: “If you don’t pay today, your credit will be negatively affected. You will never be able to get a loan, a mortgage, or a credit card.”

Me: “I need to talk to my insurance company before I do anything.”

(He keeps trying to convince me, so I eventually just hang up. I contact my insurance company and find that no claim was ever submitted for the ambulance trip and that they would have covered it if it was. Then, I call the hospital billing department to figure this out. It takes a very long time to reach the right person, but I finally find out what happened.

In an amazing display of incompetence, someone had billed it to the wrong insurance company in the wrong state using the wrong contact details. Obviously, that claim was denied, so they sent the bill to whatever address they’d written on the claim. With this level of screwing up, I’m guessing they mixed up my file with someone else’s.

Luckily, the person I talk to is more helpful, and she gets all the information she needs to submit the claim to my real insurance. She also promises to take the whole incident off my credit report once everything’s done. However, it will take several weeks at the very least for the claim to go through. In the meantime, I get another call several days later from the same bill collector.)

Caller: *after making sure he’s speaking to me* “Our records indicate that you still haven’t paid your bill. What payment method–”

Me: *cutting him off before he can get too far into this* “I’ve contacted my insurance and the hospital’s billing department and gotten the whole thing sorted out. There was a billing mistake. Many, in fact. But the claim has been properly submitted to my insurance now. It just takes a while to go through.”

Caller: “Well, you still haven’t paid. It’s on your credit report. I can’t take it off at this point since you’ve refused to pay it once already, but paying today will make sure your credit doesn’t get even worse. How will you be paying today, [Card #1] or [Card #2]?”

Me: “As I said, my insurance is paying it. We just have to wait for the claim to go through.”

Caller: “But your credit–”

Me: “The billing department said they’d take it off my credit report completely, as they’re the ones who made the mistake.”

Caller: “I’m looking at your credit report right now, and it’s not looking good.”

Me: “The claim was only submitted a few days ago. It hasn’t gone through yet.”

Caller: “If you pay in full right now, this will go away immediately. No need to wait for the claim to go through.”

Me: “Hold on. You want me to pay for something that I never needed to pay for in the first place, just to speed things up? That’s ridiculous! And even if I was going to pay, it’s not like I have that kind of money just lying around.”

Caller: “Surely you have some jewelry or electronics you could sell. I can give you the address of a pawn shop nearby.”

Me: “What? No! I didn’t mean I intended to pay you. My insurance is paying it directly to the hospital. We all just have to be patient.”

(This went back and forth for a while. It became clear that he was working on commission and wouldn’t get any money if the bill was paid through the insurance company. Eventually, I just had to hang up on him again, since it was obvious he was not giving up. He continued to call me multiple times a day for weeks, sometimes during class. Finally, the claim went through, and the debt collector stopped calling.)

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This Doctor Is Such A Headache

, , , , | Healthy | March 27, 2020

(I have had headaches all my life, but they suddenly become chronic, so I visit the doctor.)

Me: “I have a headache about five days of the week, and I have sleeping problems. I’m not sure which one is causing the other, though.”

(I proceed to give the doctor a list of things I’ve tried and checked, such as diet, climate, schedule, workout regimes, etc.)

Doctor: “I usually recommend a headache diary, but it seems you know pretty well what you’re doing. I suggest reading an hour before going to bed, instead of looking at a screen; that will help.”

Me: “No, that’s not it. I have gone screenless for three weeks but still had headaches. Also, reading before going to bed makes me have trouble falling asleep.”

Doctor: “Oh. Well, I still recommend reading an hour before bed instead of screen time.”

Me: “I am an avid reader, and I assure you that this is not the solution.”

(After going back and forth a few times…)

Doctor: “Well, I still recommend you try it.”

(She then proceeded to walk me to the door, indicating that the consultation was over. When I was back at home fuming, my husband suggested going to get my eyes checked. It turns out, I needed glasses! I could still see sharply, but the strain on my eyes caused the headaches. They were mostly strained by… reading. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the doctor, because more reading would have worsened the headaches. I have a new doctor now.)

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The Squeaky Needle Gets The Sweets

, , , , , | Healthy | March 25, 2020

(My immunization records for college are incomplete, so I need to get a couple of shots. I hate needles, but I can distract myself from the pain by chatting with the nurse. However, some shots are just more painful than others, and for this particular one I swear and go pale.)

Nurse: “All right, you’re all set! Are you feeling okay?”

Me: *sigh* “Yeah, I’m fine.”

(I pause.)

Me: “I mean…” *fake childish voice* “Wah! It hurts! I want a lolly!”

(I laugh. The nurse arches a brow.)

Nurse: “Do you actually want a lollipop? We’ve got some.”

Me: “What?! YES!”

(The nurse left and came back a minute later with a small bucket of lollipops. I picked a blue raspberry pop and proceeded to text several friends to brag about it.)

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Fluffy’s More High-Maintenance Than Most Pets Of His Kind

, , , , , | Healthy | March 23, 2020

(I work at the front desk at an animal clinic that is located on a street with many assisted living facilities. Most of them are not pet-friendly — they may have an office cat but residents can’t have personal pets — except for the largest of them which is right next door and pet-friendly.

We have a deal with the management of this facility where, whenever a new resident moves in with an animal, we set them up as a patient with us, the facility handles all their billing, we send care instructions to them to make sure the residents don’t forget the doses, and when making appointments we contact both the owner and the facility so they can make sure the owner doesn’t have something else scheduled that day and doesn’t forget their appointment.

For the humans who think they are more self-sufficient than they really are, we make sure someone from the facility is available and needs to take “important paperwork” over to the clinic at the same time the owner needs to leave, to make sure they get there and back safely. Sometimes they slip through alone, though, or decide they have an appointment when we don’t have them on the books, so we are used to having random elderly people coming in.

A clearly distraught elderly woman carrying a small dog carrier comes in one day.)

Woman: “Please, you have to help me!”

Me: “What can we do?”

Woman: “It’s Fluffy! He’s not acting right and I think I need to put him to sleep.” *sobs*

Me: “Oh, dear, we’ll get you and Fluffy in to see the doctor and take a look at him to decide if that is the best thing to do, okay? Now, what is your name so I can pull your chart?”

Woman: “It’s [Name I don’t have in my system].”

Me: “I can’t find you on the computer; have you been in before?”

Woman: “Oh, no, Fluffy and I just moved into our new apartment today and you are so much closer than his old doctor.”

(I figure she is so new the facility hasn’t had time to bring us her paperwork, so I get Fluffy’s age and breed and go about making a chart. We’ll get the rest of her information from the facility when we contact them. Thankfully, we’ve had a cancelation so I can get her into an exam room right away.

A while later, she comes out of the exam room with the doctor, with one of our techs carrying the carrier for her, much happier than when she came in.)

Woman: “And you really think it will cure him, Doctor?”

Doc: “If it doesn’t, you just have your doorman give me a call and we’ll get you back in, no charge. Now, I’m going to have my son carry Fluffy home for you. You have a good day.”

(The doctor is referring to our tech who isn’t actually his son, but that’s the code we use to let the front desk know the resident is not paying us directly and to just smile and say goodbye rather than following the normal checkout process. As soon as she and the tech are out of the building I turn to the doctor.)

Me: “So, we’re charging an exam and what else?”

Doctor: “Nothing.”

Me: “So, just the exam?”

Doctor: “No, Fluffy isn’t real.”

Me: “What?!”

Doctor: “He’s a stuffed toy; he’s just been laying around all day for weeks now. So, I told her we were going to try an experimental treatment, and if it works, that’s great, and if not, she can bring him in to be put to sleep later. Then, I drew up some air from an empty vial and injected it. She said he already looks perkier. Poor thing; she is really far gone.”

(Tech returned almost an hour later. The woman wasn’t from the facility next door, or even the one on the other side of them. She was from the one almost all the way down the block, and they had to check into all of them because she couldn’t recall which apartment building she lived in.

To their staff’s credit, they thought she had gone to get lunch with her daughter and her daughter thought her mom was taking a nap after an exhausting morning of moving in. Nobody knew Fluffy had been feeling bad, or that he was capable of feeling bad.  

The experimental treatment worked great for a month, and then Fluffy relapsed and had to come in for another treatment. We gave him his shot once a month for three years, and then one day he just stopped coming in.

Six months later, the daughter brought him in; her mom had become too ill to take Fluffy for his shots so she had just taken him out of the building for a bit and then come back and told her mom he’d had his shot, and now her mom said she couldn’t take care of Fluffy anymore so could we find him a new home. We found him a nice place in the doctor’s office; he’s our supervisor.)

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What A Doll

, , , | Healthy | March 22, 2020

I was born prematurely and at low birth weight. I was four pounds, five ounces at birth. I had none of the typical newborn baby fat; my cheeks were flat and my head was bulging, while the rest of me was skinny and angular. To be blunt, I looked like an alien. Other than that, however, I was perfectly healthy and was discharged a day later. My mother took me for my first doctor’s appointment to a well-known, established pediatrician in town, who was known for being rather coarse in mannerisms but otherwise knowledgeable. 

He went through all the usual tasks of a newborn check-up including checking normal infant reflexes. One of them was the step reflex, in which a newborn appears to walk or step when they are held upright and their feet touch a flat surface. The doctor, for some reason, used his hand as the flat surface, and this procedure ended with him supporting my neck and back with one hand and my feet with the other. He looked at me, looked at my mother, and then mimed — with me — a jaunty little dance through the air. To my mother, he remarked, “Look, it’s E.T. riding a bike!”

He honestly couldn’t understand why my mother didn’t find that nearly as amusing as he did. Or why my mother found a new pediatrician.

And she gets annoyed when I point out that, in his defense, I did look like a tiny, baby alien dressed in doll’s clothes.

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