Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do I Have a Dollar Sign on My Forehead?

by Leann Sweeney

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I have a few health issues. Fortunately I have great insurance, but the co-pays do add up. So do the supplements that I take to help me stay as healthy as possible. It is difficult to find good practitioners who know a lot about Lyme and fibro and chronic fatigue. By good, I mean knowledgeable, compassionate providers. I have found several who take care of me.

But this past week, after a treatment for my shoulder, I was told as I checked out that there was no record that I had paid for 4 appointments. Nonsense. I paid and I knew I could prove it. But, thanks to some family stresses right now, that was the straw that broke my emotional back. I was in tears by the time I got home. I immediately printed out the receipts for the dates in question, but I was thinking, "Why is this my responsibility? Why aren't they checking with my insurance company or combing through their records to find the answers. After all, there is never one time when I have left that office without paying--and they know it.

Still, that was not all that was going on. Way back when I was an eighteen-year-old kid in Catholic nursing school, I was called into the head nun's office at the end of my first year. If you know anything about nuns back in the day, that's scary! Sister Mary Sheila proceeded to tell me that my parents, after paying the initial tuition that had to be paid before I could get into my dorm room, had never paid another penny. Not for my books, not for the second semester, not for my meals, not for anything. I knew nothing about this, but I really shouldn't have been surprised. (And five years later they did the same thing to my sister.) That's the way they were. But I was mortified and humiliated. The tears began and wouldn't stop. Sister Mary Sheila was very nice, very helpful and we started the paperwork to get my bills paid through other means--grants, loans and a scholarship.

That experience scarred me, and the same feelings of humiliation popped up this past week when this billing issue came up. I was that eighteen-year-old kid again, mortified and confused. I felt reduced to a dollar sign. The upside? I was able to make that connection to "old business." I took the receipts to the doctor's office. Only then did they tell me that in doing their books with a new person in charge of billing, they found many, many mistakes involving many, many patients. But I paid a higher price than any amount of money could rectify that day.

How about you? Are there times when you feel like you have a scarlet dollar sign on your forehead?