Friday, November 21, 2008

Ken Youse Hold .... on to Your Wallet?

Given the nature of my little affliction, there is bound to be some repetition in the events recorded in this blog. I have attempted to keep things interesting, perhaps somewhat entertaining, as the weeks and months have rolled along. I have contemplated how in the world I was going to obtain enough material to make a weekly entry. How many times can I go to the Infusion Center to have a pint taken before the rhetorical well runs dry? It's hard to say. Thus far, the boys and girls over there have been quite accommodating, providing me with vast amounts of anecdotal tidbits with which to regale my readers. How many times can I take "Doc Holliday's" name in vain before the "Cease and Desist" order arrives at my front door? Its hard to say. I have been circumspect, choosing to rename everyone cleverly (or, as it is in one person's case, I have chosen to name her "Nameless", and so she shall remain).

In terms of my experiences with the staff at the three major major institutions with which I have to deal, these, too, have proven to be a rich source of grist for my verbal mill. I have hopes that I can continue on without droning excessively about my condition. In the present moment, however, I do need to follow up just a bit on an item that was left hanging a posting or so ago. That this has to do with the staff of two of the three major institutions with which I usually deal is merely coincidental. What follows below has only a faint resemblance to what has gone on before, but I suspect that it does so because of the smoke and mirrors in operation by the various parties concerned.

You will recall (if you can't, there is a place where you can go to review) that I had been to the Infusion Center twice before they finally billed DMBA and Medicare for the cost of hauling my blood out of me, and then out of the door. DMBA, however, was not as forthcoming with the payments as the Infusion Center had hoped, leaving then with the indelicate option of having to deal with me directly about the $70.22 shortfall. Before they actually sent me the bill, however, they thought to try alternative methods of recouping their losses. There was at least one attempt to make the whole process a more lucrative enterprise, but that ended in failure when the town fathers of Spanish Fork discovered that there were clandestine operatives salting an old, played-out, iron mine near Thistle, with my blood. They probably would have gotten away with it had not the rats in the mine begun to hum James Taylor songs in the middle of the night.

When the notice to "pay or else" arrived in the mail from the Infusion Center, you will remember that I called DMBA to find out exactly why I was having to pay $35.11 each time I had my blood taken, inasmuch as it was in their financial best interests to have it done. My contact at that time was a young man who introduced himself as "Gernrnnantily". After explaining what I thought was an exorbitant co-pay for the procedure, the fellow sent me off into the netherworlds of "Will You Hold Please" while he consorted with his supervisor. When he returned, he apologized for some sort of mal-function that had taken place in the "data entry palace" of the mystical land of DMBA. I asked him what I should expect. He said, "In no time at all your bill with the Infusion Center will be satisfactorily dealt with. These topographical errors are easy to resolve." Not only did I worry about the nature of the "topographical errors", but also what "in no time at all" actually meant.

Being the trusting, non-cynical soul that I am, I let the whole thing pass, anticipating that I would never have to have a verbal exchange with Big G again. This past week, however, I learned for myself once again that the truth of Lily Tomlin's aphorism, "No matter how cynical you become, it is never enough", had not become passe. Wednesday, I received a dunning notice from the Patient Services Department of the hospital suggesting that if I did not pay the $70.22 due them, I might find additional reasons to take advantage of Medicare's services, that my personal topography might have to be rearranged by someone with a very large magnet (the threat was specifically aimed at my medical condition; think of that!). I decided that my best course of action was to call DMBA again and find out what was up.

A new fellow, "Firmenansy", answered the phone. I began to explain all that I had originally communicated to "Gernrnnantily" about the billing. After a minute or two of listening to my prattle, he asked me if I could hold; he needed to talk with his supervisor. I told him I would wait. I do not know whether the length of time on hold is indicative of anything at all, but I am beginning to think that it requires some effort to come up with a fabricated tale that will momentarily satisfy the patient on line. "Firmenansy" was equal to the task.

"Well, Mr. Beeblebrox, the problem here is that the hospital has been billing us using a code that is reserved for "Out-Patient Medical Pfijmleyt" instead of using the code for "Lab Tbnllkonr Kndfdjkoeu". All you have to do is communicate that to your health provider and that should solve any and all topographical problems you may be suffering".

I was beginning to wonder if my time was worth $35.11 a pop, if I had to go through this sort of thing every time I went to the mine-salters. But, having been retired for nearly five years and having little or nothing else to do with my time, I decided that I should continue my efforts, notwithstanding the accumulating billable hours. So, taking "Firmenansy's" recommendation, I proceeded to call the Patient Services Department to provide the appropriate information that would keep everyone happy.

"Wad jouse want?" said a voice that sounded like it would be wielding the afore-mentioned magnet.

"I'm calling about my bill.... "

"Pay up or die!"

"But I don't think that I owe what you say I do. You see... "

"We don haf ta need to 'see' nuttin' here, but the color of yer dough. Pay up or die!"

"But DMBA said that the bill was not submitted corr...... "

"We ain't da billin' d'partmn'. We do da collect'n. But I kin translate ya..."

"What? Translate?"

"No... dats not it... translate..., transpose..., transfigure..., transmogrify.... "

"Transfer?"

"Ya! Dats it! Ken youse hold?"

I held... on for dear life. Finally, the voice of the unflappable "Queenie" (not her real name, but close enough as to make no never-mind) came on the line.

"Yes, Mr. Beeblebrox, what can I do for you?"

I explained everything that I had discussed with Big G, Big F, and BIG-BIG, again trying to make sense out of what had happened in the billing. I commented on the various billing codes and what DMBA had said about them. I then asked if there was anything she could do for me as far as the Patient Services Department was concerned.

"Oh yes. I am just now taking that account away from BIG-BIG. You won't be hearing from him again unless you say something unflattering about me in your next blog." (Note that I have been the quintessence of decorum in this matter.) She continued, "You wouldn't mind if I had a chat with DMBA myself, just to be sure that I have all of the right information?"

"No, not at all. Please do!"

I hung up the phone hoping for the best. About thirty minutes later, I received a return phone call from "Queenie" informing me that I would not have to pay the $35.11 per phlebotomy; that had been a problem with DMBA's computer, a problem that apparently BIG-BIG was able to help them with in some way.

"Now, Zaphod, you owe me one."

"Yes, I do. What do you recommend?"

"Could you cut down on the Barq's a little? Say, down to only eight or nine cans each time you come?"

"I think that I could maybe attempt to try to convince myself that perhaps or maybe that Sprite would do."

"No, Beeblebrox! Eight or nine cans period. And only ten or twelve packages of Lorna Doones. You're killing us over here. Its either that or you are going to have to cough up the $35.11."

It is clear that I am going to have to stop at Carl's Jr. on my way home next month.

5 comments:

shydandelion said...

LOL! That thug reminded me of Robert Asprin's "Myth Adventures" mob. :)
"Yous want me to squeeze him a little, boss?"

Rebecca said...

sounds familiar to me. It takes forever to get billing mix ups taken care of.

Jen said...

It reminds me of the cable copmany. I've had to talk to them 3 or 4 times now with billing errors and the like. I think they all belong to the same union.

Trillium said...

Alas, it is but a mere symptom of the alarming decline in just about all things admirable these days. :(

DebbieLou said...

It's all red tape to save them money. Most people give up and pay the money themselves rather than deal with all the caios. I've found on more than one occation that the moment I get a supervisor on the phone, the whole matter is solved 1000 times faster. It's amazing!