A Small Example of the Importance of Universal Health Care

I’m pretty frustrated. There’s a lot to this frustration, so you’ll have to bear with me.

The Recap

As some of you may remember, in April of 2015, I was in a car wreck. I was fine, the person my car slid into on ice was fine, but after a week or so, my back was so sore I could barely move. I was talked into going to the ER to get myself checked out and make sure everything was alright since I already had/have back problems. I wasn’t worried about it because I was on the Washington Apple Health Care, which had just switched me to a new insurance provider at the beginning of February (who were great, and were sure to call me and let me know all the health care benefits I was able to get through them).

I waited in the waiting room for maybe half an hour to forty minutes before going in. I was met by an interning nurse and another nurse. The intern took my blood pressure while the other one poked and prodded at me, felt around to make sure I was ok, then said I was good to go. They left and appeared with a prescription for some Vicodin which I never fulfilled and that was that.

However, a day or two later I was informed that my insurance had expired at the end of February, and thus I didn’t have any insurence at all. It took me forever to have time to spend the countless minutes on hold to get to the billing department of the hospital, to talk to the people at Washington Apple Health, and then some other people who I had to re-register with–I don’t know, it was over a year ago. Any way, I was told that my insurence wouldn’t cover it, and that I was basically paying out-of-pocket.

It took me a couple of months, but finally I sucked it up and paid for the $400 some odd on my American Express. That was that.

American Express

As many people know, for a long time, American Express was the only credit card that Costco would take. When I got my first Costco membership, I signed up for an American Express card through them. Of course it was a mistake for many reasons, as getting any credit card is a mistake. However, I didn’t expect this to happen:

Costco and American Express went their separate ways.

I of course thought this was no big deal since my membership long since has expired and I was planning on chopping up the card once it was paid off. Except that it did matter. Citibank has now taken over American Express’s Costco accounts, and Citibank and I just don’t get along, and haven’t done since my introduction to their “services” with Best Buy years ago. Again, I tried not to let it bother me since I’m not using the card any more because I’m still trying to pay it off in full.

The Current Problem

Last month I got a bill in the mail from the hospital, stating that I owe them $379 and that I’m on the verge of being taken to collections. I got this on the 4th of July weekend, and was upset. I couldn’t call them, I just had to sit and wait. Instead, I emailed them. I never heard back.

In the mean time, I was wracking my brain, certain that I had paid them, then I wasn’t making it up. Of course, one should follow the trail of credit card statements to be sure. I went to log onto my American Express account, but it wouldn’t let me. I realized that I had to make a Citibank account over the phone so that I could access my statements. I called, got it set up, and requested that they look back through for a purchase of $379.

“Oh sure,” said the very friendly lady on the other end. “I can look that…oh that’s weird. For some reason it has me locked out.” She instructed me that I’d have to set up a request online to see my past statements. I did so, though never heard back .

This month I got another bill from them saying that this was my final notice and that I was going to be taken to collection after this. This was on Friday, another weekend where I had to sit and stress out about it, since I already know they don’t respond to their emails. Again, I tried to get online to find my statements. I was able to access some of my monthly statements of last month, but they only told me the total amount of money I spent each month, and how much interest I was paying as well. There was nothing itemized.

I really began to question myself. Had I actually paid this bill?

Finally, I called them today, waiting the obligatory eternity on hold. I finally got through to another really nice lady who explained that yes, I had in fact paid my hospital bill last summer, but this bill was for the physician.

……

………the physician.

When I asked why I was getting billed a year later, she said that it took a year for them to confirm with my Washington Apple Health Care provider that they wouldn’t cover the bill. Also, there was a glitch in the system which sent out the collections notice/threat along with the first notice. So where as yes, I am getting sent to collections, they sent this later than it should have been…or something to that effect. I stopped listening when I realized it was corporate bull…well, nonsense.

This is why we need universal health care. This is not for lazy people. I am but a small person suffering an extremely annoying hiccup. However, there are people whose lives are destroyed by the medical industry which costs so much for basic care to ensure survival. I am not irresponsible, I am not lazy. I work hard, often two-three jobs at a time. And yet I still cannot afford health care. I was responsible. I paid the bill that was given to me. And then I was billed something completely separate? No, no, good people. This is obscenity.

So here I am, about to MOVE TO THE UK TO GO TO UNIVERSITY in a month (that’s right, we are looking at 31 days), and neither my boyfriend nor I have sufficient funds for this move and now all of a sudden I have to cough up nearly another $400?

I have options. I know I do. But still, the Universe, while it’s been good to me in other areas, is really making me work to get to Durham.

 

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