[JPL] Soft Jazz

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Tue Oct 7 09:06:19 EDT 2008

    Soft jazz

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
Dr. Jazz Operations
24270 Eastwood
Oak Park, MI  48237
(248) 542-7888
SKYPE:  drjazz99

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