My sister and I recently had the pleasure of taking my Mom to renew an acquaintance of her’s from the 1950’s. My Dad was in the military and during that time, my mom made some pretty intense relationships with other military wives. That show “Army Wives” seems to indicate that not much has changed in 50 or 60 years, in that military spouses, especially those who are not in the military themselves, are bound and determined to make good friendships on bases, even if they know they are only short-lived.
So we trek down from Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. to meet up with these dear people who haven’t seen my mom since 1955. It was absolutely delightful. Their son was kind enough to bring them to a restaurant in town so that we could spend two or three hours together. Reminiscing for the older people, getting to know them for us, “the kids”, for the son and I were not even born when they knew each other. Nonetheless, as the parents are in their eighties, and we are in our fifties, the topic turned to health, health insurance, and “what do you do?”
As I began to relate my caregiving stories, I told their son, the lawyer, how frustrating it is for me to see the elderly getting ripped off all the time by their own health insurance. And that brought about the tale of the $62.
I have told my mother, mother-in-law, aunts, uncles, disabled brother-in-law, cousins and pretty much anyone who would listen, that JUST BECAUSE YOU GET A BILL FROM A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL PROVIDER, DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO PAY IT. As you can imagine from the capital letters, this advice often falls on deaf ears. (Like, why would I who practices elder law, medicare law and has been a caregiver for sick people for over 20 years know anything about this?!!) AND, so the unsuspecting relative, friend, client, pays the bill and then brings it to my attention…ever so much later! Of course, this sends me into a tizzy. Yes, I said tizzy. I rant and rave and get on the phone with the offending billing department, which I KNOW, will be receiving proper payment from all the insurance they have and they will owe nothing.
One such scenario went like this:
“Hello?, you sent my mother-in-law a bill, and her insurance has paid you already.”
“One moment please. Do you have the account number? The date of service? Her insurance card number? Her OTHER insurance card number? Her date of birth? Her astrological sign? (okay they didn’t ask for that, but if they did would you really be surprised?)”
“Well, yes I see that she has other insurance, but you will have to get a new bill from her doctor showing this, that and the other thing to clear this up.”
So I call the doctor. And they are very nice, and more than willing to send me a new bill showing this, that and the other thing for proper credit so that I can get my mother-in-law’s $62 returned to her. But the desk clerk leaves me with one thought:
” Good luck getting your mom’s $62 dollars back, that almost never happens.”
“Oh,” I say, “you don’t know me.”
Next week the $62 check comes to my mother in law, who insists on splitting it with me because of the fine legal work she has witnessed. But here’s the thing. I would do that again and again for $1 for every elderly person who is paying these bills they shouldn’t pay, likely living on a fixed income, and their insurance does, in fact reimburse the doctor, but the patient never sees their money come back to them. Truth be told, I’d probably make a million bucks doing it!
You just gotta’ laugh…. (and fight with insurance companies and medical providers)