Trapped in Hell: Second Ring

Oh my gosh! I totally ALMOST FORGOT to tell you the funniest story! Mostly on account of my brain is made of swiss cheese!

Remember my semi-fictional story about being Trapped in Hell? Except that it wasn’t fictional (semi- or otherwise)? Here’s a followup that takes it to the level of Comedy Gold!

Help? You've come to the wrong place...

As an Epilogue to that post, I was under the impression that I was finally dismissed from the Medicare program as of July 1st of this year. So if I were to schedule a routine procedure, per my liver specialist, at the end of August, I should only have my evil Private Insurer to contend with.

So the doctor makes the request, his nurse files the paperwork to schedule the procedure with the imaging department, and they forward the paperwork to the billing department for prior authorization. See, I have been doing this awhile, haven’t I?

Then I get a call from the billing department–a lovely woman we’ll call Jessica (not her real name, but her real one is just as nice)–just wanting to verify my insurance situation. See, their computer still shows that I’m under Medicare coverage. Which is odd, because I’m no longer under Medicare coverage. I went through that exhaustively with the kind folks at Social Security some time ago. And I got a date to go with the conversation. Not a “show her a nice time and you might get lucky” date, but a “this is when it’s all said and done with” date.

She double-checked my info, input a couple of new parameters, and I’m pretty sure I heard her whack the computer with a hammer. You know, the things you do to get it to work right.

“No, it still says you’re covered by Medicare.” Weird. Well, she talked me through a lot of the myths and secrets of Medicare, which were mostly things that the folks at both the Social Security and Medicare offices oddly neglected to inform me. And then she offered to wade through the muck and give me a call the next day with the results of her efforts.

Next day, I get another call from Jessica. “Can I put you on a three way conference call with Social Security? That way you can verify some information and give permission for me to be a part of the conversation.” No problem with me.

We got a gentleman I’ll call Mr. McTool on the line. And what followed was so funny I wish I’d have concocted it myself. But you can’t make crap like this up.

First we played the Name, Address, Birthdate, Social Security Number game. Which was fun, because he couldn’t hear every fifth thing I said. I thought it was my cel phone signal, but Jessica told me afterward that she heard me just fine. So I think maybe his hearing aid was cutting out. That or he really just didn’t give a crap.

Then the fun began. “What can I help you with?”

“My doctor is trying to get a procedure authorized,” I tell him, “and their computer tells them that I’m still covered by Medicare.”

“No,” says Mr. McTool. “You voluntarily dropped yourself from the program July 1, 2011.” I don’t know how a person could project a sneer into their voice, but I swear he just did, there.

Jessica cut in. “Then why does Medicare still show up on my system?”

“Well, he is still covered by Medicare part A, for inpatient procedures.”

But didn’t you just…I thought you said…when you read the thing…I was flabbergasted. Speechless, in fact.

So I opted to merely say, “So I AM still covered by Medicare?”

“No, you voluntarily dropped yourself and are no longer covered.”

“So I’m NOT on Medicare.” I didn’t know if I’d asked a question or made a statement.

“Except Medicare part B, for inpatient procedures.”

Luckily Jessica stepped in and thanked him for his help. She was gracious. And also an angel of the Lord, sent to remove me from my purgatory.

Turns out she knew what he was going to say, and she understands the system perfectly. She just needed a name and verification from SOMEONE at Social Security to override something or another on her computer.

All is right in the world. I think.

So to recap:

I’m no longer covered by Medicare.

Except when I am.

Man, we truly ARE the most powerful country on the planet!

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