I dread the mail.
We’re pretty good about staying current with the bills. Regular Bills I can pick out easily, pay, and be done with it - old hat. But the medical billing is another story. It makes me mad. I tend to stay away from things that make me mad when I can help it. When I can’t help it I get madder.
It’s been over a month and a half since I last took on the pile of medical and insurance statements and organized them into files. It used to be I could tackle a task like that in an hour or so. This time it took me six hours (over three days) to sort the two grocery bags of envelopes into a rudimentary order. I feel like I’ve just finished mowing the lawn for every house in the neighborhood - I’m tired.
And I’m not done yet. Here’s what I have done:
- Get up really early (for three days - Ugh!).
- Make a big pot of coffee.
- Open the mail cabinet - actually it looks like more of one of those bird's nests made of scavenged trash.
- Grab piles of mail and just stuff everything into used grocery bags (no order).
- Clear the dining room table of toys, crumbs, magazines, junk...
- Sit down and sort into the following piles:
- Insurance Statements
- Medical Bills Paid
- Medical Bills needing to be paid
- Regular Bills that were misplaced.
- Personal correspondence misplaced.
- My daughters impromptu art projects that I don’t have the heart to throw away.
- The Runner’s World magazine from April that I never saw arrive
On Thursday at 8 a.m., when I reached the bottom of the pile, and had opened the last envelope, I stopped. I just couldn’t make myself go through the next round of the process - paying the unpaid bills and validating the re-imbursements (steps #7 and beyond). That will have to be next week. I was just not up to it.
I put the piles into files and the files into a box. I put the box in the closet and closed the door.
The whole process is tough, but the next part is what I dread the most. It’s not paying the bills - I’m okay with that part. I’ve been paying bills my whole life. It’s like working, or doing the laundry, or mopping the floor; necessary. It’s looking through and making sure that insurance is paying me. I get so disgusted when I see re-imbursements languish. I get so angry when I have to call and argue with two or three or four people and their manager to get them to release funds. It just doesn’t seem fair.
I know we’re lucky to be insured. I see the unadjusted bills - the numbers are SCARY! I try to imagine what it would be like to look at those numbers without an adjusted number next to it. It's sort of like how I feel when I compare the difficulties of my life to those of someone whose living in a war zone - I just should not complain.
But I can’t help feeling that this process is a game. That I’m a little mouse in a maze. That we’re all just little mice in our own mazes.
I won’t pretend to understand the health care debate. I’ve read about it and listened to National Public Radio (I’m a card carrying member); but I haven’t the foggiest idea what the right thing to do is. I just know that when I look at those bills and argue with those people, I feel like I used to feel with the phone company, or the airlines, or an auto dealership - when these folks had power. I feel (and felt) like a peasant.
I have to say that I would pay a little more, even more than a little more, if I knew I was getting a fair shake - if I wasn’t at war with an army of accountants and lawyers and billing specialists. If I could just pay my bill and be done with it, I’d pay a little more.
If this were the case, I’d be done at step #6. I’d be done and wouldn’t have to pick a week to be my angry week.
I hope they do that medical bill right.