Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The good news and the bad news

First, the good news:

Could this girl BE any cuter? No. You're right. She could not.

But now for the bad news. There are still serious injuries being inflicted. Case in point:

I got a call from the hospital last week. The admissions office was calling to "pre-register" Brett for a procedure he had scheduled for the next day. It's a routine procedure and he has it done a couple of times a year. I told the lady that I could give her Brett's information. She confirmed his address, phone, birthday, and insurance information. Then she said we should be prepared to pay a $290 co-pay at the time of service.

*screeeeeeech* Excuse me? I told her there must be a mistake. We've never had to pay anything for the procedure before and we have the exact same insurance coverage as last year. I asked if she could check again, just to be sure. She sighed and put me on hold.

Exactly four seconds later she returned, stubbornly insisting that she had checked and that $290 would be due at the time of service. I remained dubious, since I don't believe four seconds is long enough to conduct a thorough investigation. Since $290 is an odd amount for a co-pay, I asked her how it was calculated. Was it a flat fee deductible for the procedure or was it a percentage of the total cost?

She didn't know. And apparently she didn't want to spend another four seconds pretending to check for me. She recommended I call my insurance company for answers.

I did and I swear I ended up talking to the exact same person. How she could work for the hospital and the insurance company at the same time is beyond me.

So, the insurance lady said there was a $250 co-pay for the hospital stay. I patiently explained that it's an outpatient procedure so it's not really a hospital stay. She didn't care. Then I asked how the hospital might have determined that we would owe $290, not $250 (which I would disagree with, but I would understand). She didn't know. Then I asked her how we could have the same procedure done last year and be charged nothing, but this year it would be $250 (or $290). She didn't know and didn't care. I politely asked if I could talk to someone who might know.

"Like who?" she demanded.

"Uhhh... someone else. Someone who might be able to pull the records from last year."

"Who would that be?" she snipped again.

"Well, I don't know. I don't work there. But there must be someone else I can talk to who could give me a little bit more information."


Gaaah. Uh, Bob? Phyllis? Pauline? Jack? "How about your supervisor? Would he/she be able to help me?"

Big sigh. "Hold on."

The supervisor confirmed that everyone who works for the insurance company is an unhelpful idiot. I began to steel my nerves to fight with hospital admissions the next day over the co-payment.

We checked in and there were sticky notes attached to Brett's file. One said, "Collect $250 co-pay." The other said, "Collect $50 co-pay." The admissions clerk was confused. We admitted to being confused as well, since it was our impression that we wouldn't have to pay anything. But even if we did owe something, I was pretty darn sure it wasn't $50. I could see $250 for the hospital visit, but there's absolutely nothing in our plan with a $50 co-pay. It's either $40 or nothing. I told the clerk this and also told her that I thought the woman who had called me the day before was a cracksmoker.

The clerk actually smiled a little and admitted the other lady was pretty new. I told her that I didn't think we should have to pay anything, since we never had before. What she said next flabbergasted me:

"That's fine. We actually only collect the co-pay at the time of service for your convenience. Some people like to pay up front, so they don't get hit with a bill months down the road when our billing department catches up. If you don't want to pay anything right now, that's perfectly okay."

Errr? You were trying to extort $290 (or $250 or $300) out of me for my convenience? Ahhh, I get it. It's like my grocery store who put all the carts out in the rain and then posts a sign stating that for my convenience I should select a cart before entering the store. Or the department store employee who announces that the store will be closing in 10 minutes but that for me convenience they will open again tomorrow at 10:00 am. Well, if you were really interested in my convenience, you'd be open 24 hours a day. Or at least past 9:00 pm. And if you were really interested in my convenience, you'd have employees not only stationed at the entrance to the grocery store, handing me a cart as a walk in, but you might even have said employee push the cart around the store for me.

That would be convenient.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Awesome motherhood moment, part 1

At church today, I found myself in a bathroom stall which was sadly lacking in toilet paper. (Read: two completely empty rolls.) Prior to motherhood, this would have been an awkward moment.

Awesome motherhood moment: I pulled out a baby wipe from the diaper bag, dabbed myself dry, and went on my merry way.

If I may borrow a phrase from a famous formula manufacturer... Motherhood rocks. And so do you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baby, baby, baby

My mother-in-law has a special little song she sings to her kids and grandkids. It goes:

"Baby, baby, baby... baby, baby, baby..."

Meet Brooke Donna Fox. Our tiny little peanut of a girl. She weighed in at a measly 5 pounds 7 ounces (maybe... there's some confusion on that point). But I'm happy to report that both mom and baby are home and healthy.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The horse pistol

So, like many of you, I was born in a hospital. I've visited sick friends and family in the hospital. I've taken people to the ER. I've even spent the night at the hospital (not as a patient, as a family member of a patient).

And as awesome as my health has been for the past 35 years, I wonder if maybe I shouldn't have tried harder to get hospitalized earlier in life. You know, just for the experience.

Because I'm looking upon my upcoming hospitalization with more than a little trepidation.

Yeah, I'm freakin'.