Thursday, November 13, 2008

On Healthcare

Last month, I had the singular joy of arguing with Large Evil Healthcare Company, which insures employees of Uncle Frozen & Crazy. Although we had coverage starting October 1, according to their computer we did not exist. Therefore, too bad. At some point before they got their act together, I was going to run out of medication. I had a prescription. I had a group plan number and a letter stating I had coverage. I had a 400-page binder on benefits. Could I get them to bloody well deal with it? No, of course not.

Six phone calls later- including a very irritated call to the spouse- I managed to determine that, probably, if I went to the local Target and paid the sum of $XXX for my prescriptions, I could maybe, probably, fill out a reimbursement form and get back $XXX-$20. Fine. How nice that I have time to harass Evil Healthcare.

The irony is, of course, that I have excellent health care coverage. I don't have to choose between paying $XXX, or the electric bill. We have a yearly cap on expenditures that is well within our means (even with one income). I need not worry that an illness or a baby will bankrupt us, and I can even go to any doctor I want. And an hour of my life was wasted to establish one little factoid about drugs. People spend months- years!- arguing with evil healthcare companies about major illnesses. This is ridiculous.

Once, I was very ill while in Great Britain. A very nice family trundled me over to the NHS urgent care center on a Sunday afternoon. I waited a half-hour, the doctor listened to my chest, and I went off with two prescriptions. (The people at the front desk gave me a very funny look when I asked them if I owed anything. 'No,' they said, '...ummm, no.')

'I'm afraid the prescriptions'll be six pounds each,' the nice family said apologetically, 'since you don't have [some obscure form of NHS coverage.]'

They were very confused when I burst into wheezy, uncontrollable laughter.