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Bundle of Nerves…

Man this sucks. Every single time the phone rings my whole body goes cold. Making matters worse the cold call spammers have really picked up. We used to get two, three calls a week in total and now we’re getting that per day. Thursday the phone rang and as I was reaching to answer it I saw the word ‘Cancer’ on the caller ID and I was SURE it was my doctor’s office with bad news… turns out it was a charity organization collecting money for cancer research. I think I freaked the lady out when I said I’d just donated a kidney for cancer research (technically, I did) and what more did they want from me? She was still stuttering out a reply when I hung up on her. Ugh, I hate this. There’s still two weeks until my scheduled appointment.

Hawk (…)

Ugh… Just… Ugh!

So I log in to my online banking and my credit card isn’t listed. I tried to get help online but it kept asking me what account I needed help with and “The one you don’t list!” isn’t one of the freaking options! So I call and meander through the automated system for five minutes and get hung up on. I call back and just start hitting 0. Finally get someone on the line and I ask why my credit card isn’t listed and the guy with an accent straight out of Fargo (at least he more or less spoke English) tells me the account’s been closed. I ask why (I’ve never been late with a payment in 10 years) and I’m told *I* requested it be closed.
So I get transfered over to the credit card people and it turns out a block of cards, mine included, MIGHT have been compromised so they are issuing new cards with new numbers and the old cards while still working (but not being listed online!) will be closed in 30 days! It will be days before my new card appears online. Ugh. I didn’t need this today.

Hawk (aches)

PET Scan? Do I have Kittens?!

So my oncologist ordered a PET scan and I went to have it done this morning. They inject you with a radioactive dye which the technician handles behind five inch thick lead blocks and even the needle they use for the dye injection is wrapped in a half inch thick lead jacket… they’re putting this shit INTO me! Then they sit you in a darkened room in a comfy chair to relax why the dye permeates throughout your body. It would have been a lot more relaxing with headphones, their PA system went off every 30 seconds.

So the dye’s done it’s job and it’s time for the scan. I find out it’s a combo PET and CAT scan My THIRD CAT scan in two months… I’m going to glow in the damn dark soon! They put you on this foot wide table (I’m a LOT wider than that) that’s as hard as a rock and then, because I’m a big guy I had to put my arthritic arms above my head. Worse my left shoulder won’t lay flat so I have to grip the ‘above your head handgrip’ for my RIGHT arm to drag it down low enough to get me through the machine. It was beyond agony. The entire time it felt like someone was pushing and pulling a red hot ice-pick through my shoulder.

The CAT scan goes by real quick then the tech comes out and says they’re starting the PET scan. Come to find out the scanner does seven inches of your body, pauses, slides you down and does the next seven inches. After about thirty minutes of the scan the table ejects me, the tech comes out and tells me the scanner crashed, they need to reboot the entire system do a test scan and then re-scan the two sections of my body the system glitched on. We can’t even skip it because, of course, the glitch happened when they were scanning the lower area of my lung and chest which is where the three ‘somethings’ the previous CAT scan turned up are.

I get to sit out in the waiting area for five or ten minutes and then I have to go back into hell with my shoulders doing things it just doesn’t want to do. Another ten, twelve, minutes in a tube just a little bigger than me. Did I ever mention I got stuck in a cave once years ago and thought I was never getting out? Yeah, this was a fun, fun, fun day!

But… I made it through though even now, twelve hours later, my shoulder is still throbbing. This typing isn’t helping!

So now, as Tom Petty said; “The waiting is the hardest part…”

I’m thinking, hoping, that if the oncologist keeps the appointment scheduled in three weeks the news will be good or at least not devastating. On the other hand if they call in the next couple days and say they need to see me right away… yeah, this is going to be a fun filled few days.

Hawk (a giant bundle of nerves)

Yay Bureaucracy!

A few months back my urologist said I HAD to have a CAT Scan to get a better look at what was going on with my kidneys and bladder. Since, at the time, I didn’t have health insurance I was going to have to foot the bill for it myself. Compounding the problem my being a very large person there are some facilities who can’t handle someone my size. It turned out there was one facility that could do the scan and that was Palm Bay Hospital (actually about a week later a new private imaging company opened up and had the equipment we needed) Their fee for the CAT Scan was over eight THOUSAND dollars while the small, independent imaging labs were charging between $250 – $500 for the same services.

I found out there was a financial services department at the hospital that would review your situation and adjust their fees accordingly. I jumped through their hoops. I gave them full access to my personal information and banking details as well as having to create an account on their mail server so I could download ‘protected’ application files.

I gave them all this information and waited… and waited. Finally they called me back and said the portion of the bill that I would be responsible for would be $1,200. I didn’t want to but I had to, so I agreed. I then had to put up a $200 ‘good faith’ deposit to prove I intended on paying the bill.

The next week I went and had the scan done. The paperwork was a total nightmare. The person checking me in was completely clueless and screwed it all up.

A couple weeks later out of the blue I get a check in the mail for $200 from the hospital saying I’d overpaid for a service and this is the refund. I called and found out that Instead of using the account they’d created when I made my ‘good faith’ deposit the woman checking me in had created a new account with no link to the financial services agreement or my deposit.

Another week goes by and I get a bill for $8,403.90 full cost for the CAT Scan and the doctor’s services reading the results. My jaw hit the floor.

Having just gotten Medicare coverage the effective date was the first of the month so any eligible procedures or tests I’d had done that entire month were covered. I called the billing office back. Gave them my Medicare number and told them to submit it and see what happened.

Today I got a bill for $144.85, Medicare covered ALL the rest. I ended up having to pay less than the deposit they’d made me make and refunded to me. YAY!

Now, on to the next service. Getting a PET Scan next Tuesday. It sounds absolutely like torture. Fun, fun, fun!

Hawk (still alive and kicking… well, alive at least.)

President to Give Back 5% of His Salary?

In this article the President has saids he plans to return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury in solidarity with federal workers who are going to be furloughed as part of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester…

I’ve tried to have nothing but respect for the president, he was handed a country swirling down the toilet and then blamed for all the problems he inhereted but this? This is an entirely empty gesture… 5% of a salary that DOESN’T buy gas for his car, put food in his kid’s mouths, pay medical expenses, utility bills, nothing.

I’d gladly give up 5% of my disability check if my every need was provided for and *I* had a helicoptor and limo on the front lawn at my beck and call.

Hawk (I don’t even get 24/7 armed guards!)

Just another one of ‘those’ days…

When the urologist said I had to have the CAT scan to get a better look at things going on inside me I worked with the hospital (group)’s financial and self-pay coordinator. I had to jump through hoops and provide access to all sorts of personal and financial information. Once I had the hospital board (I’m still convinced the ‘board’ is comprised of the stuffed animals she has tea with every afternoon) agreed to drop the price of the $8,000 CAT scan to $1,200. I had to provide a ‘good faith’ deposit of $200 which I did, over the phone with my checking account number.

The other day I get a bill, for the CAT scan, for $8,535.90. I called the billing office and asked how, after being told the scan would cost $1,200 I got billed over eight grand. The idiot on the phone kept parroting ‘The $1.200 was an ESTIMATE, sir!’ To which I would reply that it wasn’t. It was an agreed upon fee between myself and the hospital and then she’d eat her cracker, squawk a few times and parrot the ‘estimate’ line a few more times. I finally said “Look, I was given a non-standard enrolment into Medicare and the effective date I was given for coverage pre-dates the date of service for the CAT scan so you’re just going to have to run the whole bill through Medicare and Medicaid and see what happens.” She says she’ll do that after getting all my personal information, for like the 3rd time.

I hear back from the hospital’s financial and self-pay coordinator after only three voice mails and she says the reason I was billed the full amount was the idiots at the hospital I had the scan done AT don’t have the same codes and flags as the hospital SHE works at but they have access to all the same patient data, they’re a hospital group! So instead of just spending the few minutes it would have taken to find out how to mesh the two systems together (they even called the hospital financial and self-pay coordinator to confirm that I had put down a deposit and didn’t need to put down another deposit for the days service) they created an entirely new account for me ignoring the existing one.

The billing department’s records then, after a month, showed I had an account with the hospital with a $200 balance and no debits. This was considered an overpayment on my part and they refunded the good-faith deposit I’d made.

After she explained that the hospital’s financial and self-pay coordinator looked through my records and found that the parrot I’d spoken to earlier had screwed everything up and NOT submitted my account to Medicare and Medicaid. That she, supposedly, resolved and now it’s wait and see what bills roll in. Which is about as scary as having one of your kidney’s hacked out of your body through a 10″ gash.

Yay, bureaucracy!

Hawk (fearing the mailbox)

Hey, Blog, I’m Back!

So I call the state agency that’s helping me get Medicare and Medicaid. I work through the maze of automated systems until I find get to the one (out of something like 30) menu systems that offers to connect you to a real, live, human being and I get told “All our agents are busy at this moment. Please try your call again, later.” Wait… What? I bounce back in and out of this menu system at least ten times and finally get told my call was being transferred to an agent. Ten minutes of mind numbing hold music later and I’m talking to “Kevin”.

I ask, simply, “My case worker is convinced being accepted into the QMB program means I was automatically opted into Medicare. How do I prove to a doctor’s office that I HAVE medicare Part B?”

After an agonizing half hour trying to understand the guy, who seemed to be half Jamaican and half Indian, I find out he doesn’t know… ANYTHING about the programs his agency administers. He said I had to call Medicare. He gives me their number and says they could help me with proof of my coverage.

I call Medicare and run straight into an automated answering system that’s designed to keep you from ever hearing a non-recorded voice. At least ten minutes later I get “Paul” on the phone. “Paul” at least speaks English well enough to easily understand him. He seems angered that I didn’t use the automated system and bothered him with my boring little questions. “Paul” says they have no record of my ever getting Medicare Part B and if I want Medicare Part B I have to call the Social Security office and they can help me with my problems.

I get the number for the Social Security office from “Paul” and begin fighting with another government answering system. I have to tell this one at least five times that no, I don’t want you to try and guess what help I need, I want to talk to an agent. I’m told that the Social Security phone system is often busiest at the beginning of the month and hold times during those days may be excessive.

FIFTEEN minutes later of listening to horrid hold music fade in and out I get “Dwayne” on the phone. After giving him a ton of personal information to identify myself (including the city I was born in!) I get to ask him “What do I have to do to opt into Medicare Part B NOW?” and “Dwayne” says… “Nothing, I see here you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B already. When the state accepted you into their QMB program it automatically and immediately opted you into the program.” {Facepalm} He has no idea why Medicare has no record of my having Part B and tells me my new ID card is on the way as well as a letter of proof as well which will arrive before the new ID card. He gives me my Medicare ID number and the program effective dates they have on record and tells me to have a nice day….

{Facepalm} {Head Desk} {Facepalm} {Head Desk}…

I need a nap.

Hawk (napping)