Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No Insurance Assured

Heaven Help me. (Warning: gratuitous healthcare rant follows. I cannot help shaking my head at the folly of it all.)

It is a testament to my self control that I haven't gone jogging through rush hour traffic, screaming and waving my arms maniacally, though one wonders what next week will bring.

Arriving home, part of my "welcome home, Rob" routine involves answering the answering machine. The light on the machine was winking an electronic "come here, you -I've got something to tell you" message at me. I did so promptly, leaving a box of raisins and Gatorade next to the toaster oven, the former having been purchased moments earlier. "Tuesday: 6:11 P.M", intones an AT&T answering machine in its officious-sounding finest. "...End of message".

That happens frequently; "robocalls", sensing answering devices, are pre-programmed to not leave messages. That, of course, piques one to return calls left behind courtesy of caller I.D.

I certainly returned this one. "Welcome to SilverScript (my health insurance company). "This call may be recorded" was followed, some six minutes later, by a customer service person's greeting. "I'm Joyce. How may I help you?"

If ever there was a loaded question...

"I received a letter from Social Security. That letter informs me that, effective January first, my Medicare drug coverage is going to be dropped. I qualify for "Extra Help" courtesy of living several leagues under the poverty line. That coverage has been dropped. How do I proceed?" Joyce, bless her heart, was compassionate enough to direct me to the Social Security office. "Dandy", came my weary reply, "Except that Social Security directed me to the Medicare Office, which in turn directed me to CMS. When CMS answered the phone, they directed me to Silverscript. That's YOU, Joyce. You folks then directed my call to some pimple-faced kid who claims he was my navigator, but who seems to have less of a clue than I do regarding this healthcare mess. What should I do?"

Joyce, sounding much like someone who's reading the latest Patricia Cornwell book and doesn't wish to be disturbed, again suggests that "if I were you, I'd call Social Security and let them tell you who to call."

Do you understand my impulse to tie myself to a tree and hope that someone shoots me? "Joyce", I began again. "The problem is that I'm going to have to go without medication because of this fiasco of a healthcare system. I was dropped from drug coverage just so that I could reapply for it. The problem, Joyce, is that no one in the entire system knows which organization handles that. What is my next step?

The reply came precisely as I was sipping the Gatorade mentioned a minute ago. "Hold on a second, Joyce. I spilled some of my drink", lying to cover up the fact that I had spit said drink clear across the room and onto several books in a desperate effort to keep from choking. Joyce, immediately before I went fire hose with my "recovery drink", had informed me that I needed to call Social Security for further assistance.

"I'm not sure whether you're reading from a script, Joyce. I know I certainly don't need to. I've memorized the sequence of calls which I keep having to make in order to try to meet the ACA/Obamacare law. I'm running out of medication, Joyce, and December 15th is approaching. Shall I run through it again?" Joyce, suddenly becoming silent at the other end, led me to wonder how far along she was with her book, and is it available in paperback yet? "Yes sir" was sedately issued by a woman whose experience in dealing with frustrated folk like me had left her with rather calloused emotional defense mechanisms, not that I blame her for that. "Social Security leads to Medicare", I calmly explained to the ever-inattentive Joyce. "Medicare leads to CMS. CMS leads to SilverScript. Sound Familiar? SilverScript leads to my navigator. It's linear, Joyce. And nowhere along that line segment can anyone answer a simple question.

I thought I'd suffer a severe manic episode when Customer Service's Finest replied, "What was the question, sir?"

I was relived to learn that I'll continue to receive medical attention if needed. But without the drug coverage I can see what's coming: "Mr. Adcox", some surgeon will share with me, "you don't have drug coverage, so we need to keep you awake through your triple-bypass operation. Here's a soft rubber ball which you can squeeze if you feel any discomfort at any time."

I'm tough. I can handle the whole pain-tension cycle.

I'll rest assured that I'm underinsured.


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