November 3, 2006

Where I have been, and various thoughts on life, health insurance and the life of the self employed

Forgive the long absence. I guess they've been fairly regular of late. I have been just sort of keeping my head above water, writing taking precedence over everything else--blogging, unfortunately, included. The good news is, that all these little bits of writing are forming themselves into something like a book. (I hesitate to say even that for fear of jinxing it.)

So, where have I been? Well, right now, I am sitting in Greenberry's, my favorite coffee shop, drinking tea and eating chocolate McVities. I come here to get out of the house and be around people. What cracks me up is that all these self-employed creative types come here for the same reason. And then we all sit here with our Macs (approximately 87% of the people who come to Greenberry's use Macs) and talk to no one. The other day one of the other regulars nodded in my direction and I felt amazed to have sort of connected with someone.

This week I have been fighting headaches on every front. My health insurance company sent me the bill for the first quarter of my new plan. It is going to be roughly equivalent to five or six additional mortgage payments every year, and I just refuse to think about it. It would be one thing if I felt like I was getting something for my money, but I'm feeling a bit taken advantage of. Shopping for health insurance ranks somewhere between going to the dentist and being savagely attacked. Using your health insurance is not that much more fun.

The biggest headache this week has been trying to get my insurance company to pay for claims they have had for more than 6 months. I don't think you'll want to read about this, but I'm going to tell you anyway because I have to tell someone, and my mom has already heard the sob story. The two labs total nearly $400. I sent the first one in sometime in March or April. They lost it. I sent it in again, along with the second receipt. They failed to process both of them this time. When I called to follow up, after waiting weeks to hear from them, they said they had to mail them to California since the lab was in California, and I had to give Blue Cross California 30 days to process it. That was the first of September. Still nothing. (Sheesh. I want to stick hot pokers in my eyes just typing this out.) I finally found someone this week who said she would help me, but when I called her back to follow up she said, "Oh, I'm sorry, your plan has changed so I don't have authority and someone else has to approve this." ARGH! Argh, argh, argh. Shoot me now. Seriously. Does it all have to be this painful? What we need is for some brilliant entrepreneur out there to start the Southwest Airlines version of health insurance. Cheap, no thrills, excellent service, clear expectations.

Today I am sending in roughly $1100 more in claims. I think I'll be lucky if I see any of that money again. It all makes me think how easy it would be, even today, even in America, to just slip through the cracks and end up in a bad situation. It just takes one illness, which is completely out of your control, and then maybe you can't work, and if you didn't have a support system, it would be really hard to figure out how to get help. It would be too easy to just give up. I'm lucky. No one is going to let me starve, and I still have a little income (though I don't recommend writing for those who want to be financially secure).

Oh, and I got in an accident on Saturday. I was driving home from having brunch with my friends Bev and Jordan. I was stopped at a light, looking for my phone or something. In my peripheral vision, I saw the minivan in front of me start to move and I stepped on the gas. Only, they weren't really going and the light was still red, so I smacked into their bumper. Very little damage, none to my car at all. The best kind of accident, right? So I thought. Then the lady I hit, who had been out walking around and talking to me, decided that she wanted to call an ambulance. They STRAPPED HER TO A BOARD. Sheesh! What was she thinking? So because she did that, her two preteen girls decided they had to have an ambulance, too. (BTW, I love that she just left them in the car while the medics were attending her. Excellent maternal instincts!) Now they are claiming medical expenses and saying they need continued treatment. My insurance company says they may have to settle.

On a brighter note, I got to go to the Cox Farms Fall Festival with my parents and my niece, Grace. I think that was the highlight of my fall! It's open one more weekend--big slides and free pumpkins included. If you're here in northern Virginia, take your little ones.


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