60-second Tuesday Rant – My Bucket, Medical Bills and Stratego

My allergy doctor told me I have a bucket that holds all of my medical challenges. With CF, he said, my bucket is close to full every day. And, it doesn’t take much or even something physical to cause it to overflow.

Medical bills make my bucket blow like a Vegas water show.

I feel embarrassed that I drain the system to the tune of four hospitalizations a year and a potpourri of inhaled and oral meds. It hurts to look at the bills. A panic attack can start just by pulling an inch-thick stack of them from the mailbox. They are reminders of my greatest fear of not having insurance and knowing what I might have to do at that point.

Luckily, I married above my pay grade and my wife deals with them.

But that upsets me, too – the time she spends navigating the maze, making sure we don’t overpay, pay twice, or just plain get screwed. It’s shocking how incorrect the bills are. She has an MBA and an honorary degree in detective work, yet it still takes numerous phone calls to tie the numbers together and figure out what we owe. It also doesn’t help that some bills arrive a year after the service.

What do people without her expertise do? I bet they pay what they don’t owe.

Sometimes, collection agencies harass us for payment while the insurance company and service provider debate who who is at fault for non-payment, each telling my wife to call the other party to resolve the situation. Her phone conversations sound like a lawyer’s, documenting the name of the person, time of the call, and what was said.

Available at Amazon.com

It’s amazing in this age of technology that these problems still exist. It’s not the government who needs to run our healthcare system, it’s Google. Now that’s a company with the communication intelligence to fix the billing errors that take place between the patient, insurance company and medical provider.

I’m not complaining. I’m lucky to have insurance. I just wish it didn’t have to be a game of Stratego every time we open a stack of bills. That’s the part of CF I didn’t anticipate when I was younger – the stress and battle of medical insurance. It’s Stratego come to life with healthcare on one side and my wife and I on the other. Luckily, my wife plays a hell of a game. But it’s a shame it’s not a more friendly game like Candy Land, which doesn’t require a Xanax to play.

20 thoughts on “60-second Tuesday Rant – My Bucket, Medical Bills and Stratego

  1. tell me about it!!! I stopped working ten years ago and insurance and medical bill replaced my job – I feel like that’s my full time job! I feel bad for the elderly that just pay the bills they receive because they simply don’t understand it. It’s totally ridiculous! I can relate 100%

    • G,

      It’s so strange that you mention the challenges of the elderly and medical bills. I had a paragraph about how they probably suffer the most. I cut it due to length. But, yes, I have no doubt they pay that random $300 bill without always knowing if it’s a duplicate or needs to be paid. So many times we get billed despite not owing anything.

      Thanks for the comment. Hope all is well.


  2. When an unexpected bill comes, I do pop the Xanax, let Beautiful read it and see if she immediately remembers a previous payment or something, and then we dig in. I’m still usually the on interpreting what it is for, but then she has an uncanny ability to sort it out. Of course, I did marry a B.S. in Business Administration. 😉

    In the end, she gets all of the paperwork together or pays the bills outright and then I have to either play “good cop” or “bad cop” on the phone with the billing department the next day. Hey, were able to settle a $1,200 bill last month for $1,000 by not doing a payment plan.

    The saddest thing: no matter what they raise our premiums to, we would still end up winning! I just need to out-earn the premiums and deductibles.

    • Excellent and interesting comment. Pretty cool that you were able to settle that bill for less money. How did you do that? Perhaps, that’s a trick we need to master.

      I agree with you that we’ll always be ahead, but it still hurts to keep paying and paying. Every year it’s a little bit more. Not complaining – well, maybe I am a bit. Oh, well, happy I have insurance.

  3. Yeesh, medical bills make my blood pressure rise just thinking about them. My ER visit from Jan overbilled the “sticker price” for my visit by almost double! It lessens stress to have an attorney in the family (aka, big brother). I’m glad your wife questions and inquires about bills. I hope everyone with CF has someone willing to do so because it’s unnerving how the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing when it comes to Medical Bill Land. The surprising thing is that I’m usually arguing on the same side as the insurance because they know what they’re doing (except my prescription plan provider—don’t get me started on them…). My new rule is to ask for an itemized statement before discharge.

    • I’ve been tempted to ask for an itemized statement, but since my out-of-pocket cost is just my co-pay, I’m less inclined to do so. Still, I’d like to shove some sort of hospital fraud on the desk of some pencil-necked paper-pusher at Aetna to give them what for because they gave be a strand of 8 single-wrap Ultrase to have with my “dinner” on an overnight ER stay. Took me 3 minutes to get them all out.

      Forget it – from now on, I’m bringing my own meds and the nurses can deal with it and my CF doctor if they have a problem with it.

      • I hate the individual wraps for enzymes. I hate opening them. There has to be a better more cost effective way to do it. I always have my own enzymes on hand in the hospital because they sometimes forget to bring them prior to meals. Also, I’m constantly battling the RTs because I can do my own meds and don’t really need them.

        BTW, good luck with bringing your own meds. Let me know how that works out.

      • They have not put me in the hospital for respiratory issues since 2001. Only overnight stays for blockages. Home IVs only. I’ve had a full-time job since I was 18, so I couldn’t go in the hole.

      • I am moving to Florida and going to see your doctor. That is really nice. I used to be able to do that, but now they make all of us go in for four or five days to make sure the tobra levels are okay. Then, if we’re getting better they cut us loose. I have a full time job, but I can and do work from the hospital.

      • They just have home health draw the trough/peak labs the next day and call in a new order of Tobra if the levels are off, then they come back again to draw new labs.

        When I was at 24% or whatever that low was, they started my first 2 doses at clinic in a side room and sent me home to wait for delivery. 😉

        I can and will work in any condition. I’d have to be so incapacitated to not do what I do for a living, it’s brilliant. 😉

    • Nanos,

      I think I remember seeing your picture of the bill on a table. Scary. I often think the problems are intentional and allow for delay of payments, which earns more interest for the companies. But that has to add costs, as they have to hire more people to deal with the claims. I don’t know. It just feels like there’s a lot of fat built into the system. It may be impossible to unravel.


  4. I LOVE Stratego, the actual game, not the insurance hoops 🙂 I wonder if we could play each other online??


    • RONNIE,

      HEY, MARRIED MAN!. Nice to hear from you and thanks for the visit. I enjoyed seeing the daily h-moon shots. Very nice. You married up, too. 🙂

      I loved Statego growing up. I played it all the time. I bet I’m rusty now. I’m going to buy a game and play with my daughter. Once I’m back to speed, let’s find a place online to play, which I think I saw yesterday on the web, and I’ll kick your a** big time. Just to show us old CFers know a thing or two. It will be a great Statego battle – like a chess match, we’ll broadcast it online. 🙂


  5. you wife is nice to even talk to the bill collectors- I always say, “send me something in the mail please,” and if the pursue the conversation, I say (depending on if they are rude or polite) either, “Please don’t call back,” or “You job sucks,” and hang up.

    • Bill collectors are the worst. One of them would call and just say “what?” I’m serious. He just keep saying that, hoping we’d get pissed and call his company. It’s ridiculous what they do. If I could somehow get their home phones or addresses. They’d be on my list to take out in my last days.

  6. PS to comment above- always take the hospitals’ meds- they will charge your for whatever is in the chart- whether you bring it or they give it to you- so you might as well take theirs!!

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