[JPL] Soft Jazz
drjazz at drjazz.com
Tue Oct 7 09:06:19 EDT 2008
I'm listening to soft jazz at the moment - not because I want to, but
because that's the music playing while I'm on hold to the benefits
administrator in my employer's HR department.
This morning I got a call from my medical supplier. They have an order
for me ready to ship out, but my insurance says I am "terminated". I
would have to pay $400 out of pocket for these supplies - which are
actually only two or three items that were backordered when my last
order went through.
Shortly after September 1st, when I (was) changed to a different job, I
called the benefits people and begged them to tell me what I had to do
to maintain my COBRA coverage. My employer contracts out COBRA benefits
management to another company. "You'll get a letter," they told me. I
got that letter last week, and mailed back the election form the next
day. The form specifically said, "You do not have to send any payments
with the Election Form". So I didn't.
After I got off the phone with my supplier, I called the COBRA benefits
manager - who said that my COBRA isn't active until I send payment. Why
didn't I send payment? I read the form to her. Still, they can't do
anything until I send payment.
If it were only about the $400 of supplies, this wouldn't be a big deal.
But I'm scheduled to have surgery tomorrow, to remove a potentially
cancerous mole from my back. If insurance won't cover the supplies, they
sure as hell won't cover the mole. I don't know when I'll be able to
reschedule this procedure.
After I was done with the COBRA managers, I called HR. I explained the
situation, and the woman I spoke to asked whether I had received any
payment coupons with my Election Form. I told her no - and read the form
to her. Now she's looking at whether or not I can be reinstated. So I'm
listening to soft jazz.
And we're back. She says that she will get me reinstated so that I can
have my surgery tomorrow. She's going to call me back when that is set.
So maybe I get surgery and supplies after all - but I'm not holding my
The generally healthy reader might chalk this up to an unfortunate
snafu, but the sick person will instantly recognize the modus vivandi of
the employer-based health insurance system. I wouldn't speculate these
problems are deliberately designed into the relationship between
employer, administrator, insurer, and supplier - but anything that puts
more of the cost on me, the sick person, is definitely not a bug from
their perspective. Unfortunately for them, I've been sick long enough
that I know better, and I'm broke enough that it's worth my time to make
those phone calls and to wait on hold, listening to soft jazz, until I
get what I need to survive.
To connect this to the grand narrative: lots of people claim universal
care will impose an onerous bureaucracy on our health care, but can you
guess why I'm unswayed?
By the way, I hate soft jazz.
Dr. Jazz Operations
Oak Park, MI 48237
More information about the jazzproglist