I love what Mayo Clinic did last year for my syncopated heart. Every morning now I wake up to that sweet lub-dubbing that says that this day will be a pretty good one. Cardiac electrophysiology (gosh, I love saying that I have a cardiac electrophysiologist on call) is Mayo's strong suit. Billing accuracy, not so much so. (Gosh, I hate the coolly ubiquitous phrase "not so much." This linguistic bastard is one word short of idiomatic English.) But I digress. (I had a perpetually frustrated mentor once who erupted into foaming incoherence whenever he caught me indulging in parenthetical commentary. Sorry, John.)
Anyway, I have this great health insurance plan that pays for everything after I surpass a near-astronomical yearly out-of-pocket maximum. Since my darling Judy is a conspicuous consumer of all things medical, we routinely exceed that threshold before St. Swithin's Day each year. Accordingly, when Mayo worked its electrophysiological magic on December 27-28 last, the entire -- wait for it -- $75,000 was covered. So I thought.
Mayo thinks I still owe it about six grand. That in itself is enough to pump a few extra lub-dubs into my personal mix. God help me, I have entered into that twilight menage-a-trois that exists at the unhappy intersection of me, my insurance company and my hospital.
Once a week at dinnertime, "Gladys" phones me from Mayo, calls me a deadbeat, and demands that I pay up or return all those rhythmical cardiac contractions that so brighten my mornings. This nearly always pisses me off.
Rushing to my aid, Ironically enough, are those annoying HIPPA laws -- the ones that generate all those moronic forms you have to sign before a doctor will unsheathe his stethoscope. You see, before Gladys can talk to me about my specific consumption of medical services, she always has to ask for my date of birth. Now, I am pretty sure that Gladys knows my DOB and does not need me to confirm that information. So when I admit who I am but refuse to provide my DOB, Gladys is beyond flummoxed. The balance of our conversation occurs only in some legal state of limbo, since Gladys cannot verify that someone with the same phone number as me is not for some nefarious reason pretending to be me. You would think anyone nefarious enough to answer my phone could find out my DOB.
Why isn't my insurance company handling this? you might ask - - Lord knows, I have. When I call the insurance company to inquire, I get "Lucille," who swears to me that I do not owe Mayo a thin dime and insists that I not pay them. "Could you call Gladys," I ask, "and tell her that?" That's where it gets dicey.
Now let's face it - "Gladys" and "Lucille" are made-up names for a couple of guys sitting in some third-world boiler room chewing khat or molesting small animals. For all I know, they sit in adjacent cubicles. Whatever it is they are doing, however, seems to interfere with routine cerebration. To confound matters even more, you can never talk to the same Gladys twice. Calling to ask for Gladys or Lucille by name is a Marx Brothers exercise in runaway absurdity. What's more, it should be obvious to even the casual observer that asking Gladys to phone Lucille raises the stakes to Laurel & Hardy levels.
Lest you were born in a pumpkin patch sometime in the past twenty-four hours, let me assure you that my current predicament is the norm and not the exception. Someone still owes me $168 from the first time the kind folks at Mayo put their collective ear to my chest a couple years gone by. Gladys swears that that someone is Lucille.
Lub-dub, lub-dub, etc.,