Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Barriers, Again or: The Emergency Fund, Vindicated

Well, here's a mighty embarrassing situation.

I've let a bunch of medical bills pile up without applying for reimbursement. I've had this luxury because either a) my father has paid them, on the agreement that I'd pass the reimbursement checks over to him, or b) they are addressed to my father with the idea that he will pay them. My father is on vacation, not on the continent, and hard to reach by mail, so he asked me to pay a current bill out of the reimbursement checks for previous bills.

Only there aren't any reimbursement checks for previous bills, because I haven't filed for reimbursement, because I do not know how, and things I don't know how to do wig me out. This is my great weakness in almost all aspects of my life.

So.

I went to a doctor's appointment yesterday (I'm keeping the nature of my ongoing medical issue to myself, but it's nothing urgent), and she was like, "Here's something awkward we need to discuss..." and I was like, "Word," and explained how what was supposed to happen was stalled by my incompetence.

She was awfully nice about it--explained how to file a claim to the best of her ability--but nevertheless, it would be pretty hugely unfair to be like, "hey, I'm just going to leave you waiting around for money that you earned, because I'm weird about stuff I don't know how to do." So, I got to say, "I'll write you a check."

And because I've saved diligently, I can write her a check. I'll need to transfer the money out of my E-fund, but the money's there. Not that it doesn't make me nervous to let it out of my bank account and roam free, because it does, but I guess there's no way around it. And the reimbursement should quickly replenish the stores.

Nevertheless, I'm nervous.

17 comments:

Sarah Hurst said...

Aw, but the good thing is that once you've done it, you'll know how to do it next time. And then you'll no longer be nervous. :-) Cheers!

Strange Bird said...

Oh my. I do the exact same thing, so I have yet to be reimbursed from my insurance for an eye exam copay I wasn't supposed to pay or a medical visit outside of the country. Because I don't know how. They must make things like this complicated simply because people like us will eventually say "I'll figure it out later" until we just let it go and they never have to pay...

English Major said...

Frankly, SB, I think that's exactly why they do it. I know that with rebates systems are explicitly designed to maximize "breakage," and I wouldn't be at all surprised if insurance reimbursement systems were, too. The doctor I spoke to emphasized that I should keep copies of everything, because it's routine for companies to simply deny that they received anything.

Anonymous said...

It's not hard to file an insurance claim. Read your insurance benefits
booklet. If you don't have one, call customer service and ask that one be send to you. Some doctor's offices will file for you and some won't. It's up to you to be diligent and keep track of what was sent in and what has still to be filed. You can use a little notebook for this. Write down the date when you send it in and what it was for and then follow up if you haven't received reimbursement in a reasonable amount of time. I
do it all the time. Good luck.

krystalatwork said...

I always get nervous when I write a cheque before I've transferred the money into my account.

And at least now you know how to file the claims, especially since it's an ongoing thing. :)

sillydoggies said...

Congrats!!! Financial responsibility is a pain sometimes but knowing you've done the right thing by your doctor is wonderful.

mapgirl said...

OMG. I hate reimbursements. I never submit for vision reimbursement. I just pay it. (for an eye exam and glasses it's $500 of which I'd only get back like $100)

I always go in-network and let the business office deal with it.

What I don't get is why the biz office is so quick to turn ppl over to collections when it's their damned fault for getting my address wrong. It was the right telephone number! Did you bother calling? Of course not! (yes, I'm still bitter!)

Debbie said...

I have a similar weakness: I don't like to bother people, so I don't like to ask people for help. In your situation, I would have done everything possible that doesn't bother people (like read fine print) to figure out how to get reimbursed, but if I couldn't figure it out on my own, I would have put off asking for help.

My problem is especially stupid because most of the time the people I would be "bothering" are being paid not only to be bothered but also to be nice, so usually once I do it, it's all very quick and simple. Doh!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but grow up. Stop depending on Daddy. I give you credit for having the E-fund at least. Still, find the form you need for reimbursment and read it. Follow the instructions. Send it in. Its not rocket science, and surely easier than reading Faulkner.

English Major said...

Anonymous: On the one hand, word. On the other hand, quit being obnoxious. On the third hand, a lot of hard things are still easier than reading Faulkner (which is one reason that I generally don't).

Anonymous said...

Hi English Major,

I am sure this is not your intention, and above all you are certainly showing financial responsibility and integrity. Having said that...this blog entry makes you sound a little like an over-privileged trust fund baby. I have lots of friends like this, as it's a common feature of our generation. They have the luxury of being oblivious about certain aspects of their finances and relying on their parents for huge parts of their expenses. As part of your process of growing up and being financially responsible, I suggest that you consider learning how to deal with insurance companies and reimbursements and then take the work off of your dad's shoulders. It's empowering to know how to do this stuff and to not rely on your parents for basic things like healthcare. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

One more thing - you are correct regarding the comment that insurance companies do this crap on purpose. They have studies showing that people will use their health insurance less for every cost they add onto it and for every hurdle the put in place. For example, they have proven that by just raising co-pays by $5 or $10, people will do less office visits or will fill less prescriptions. And they rely on people being financially lazy and not bothering to deal with reimbursements.

I always stay on top of this stuff. It's a pain in the butt, but it gives me satisfaction to know that I am not giving into the insurance company bullshit. I suggest that everyone get reimbursed every penny they are due!

S/100/30 said...

Frankly, SB, I think that's exactly why they do it. I know that with rebates systems are explicitly designed to maximize "breakage," and I wouldn't be at all surprised if insurance reimbursement systems were, too. The doctor I spoke to emphasized that I should keep copies of everything, because it's routine for companies to simply deny that they received anything.

I've been extremely pleased with our reimbursement company (I'd have to look up the name). They've never denied anything, and approve claims even when I didn't submit the correct paperwork (for example, once they accepted a bill for my contacts as documentation, when really they require proof of payment).

It's all pretty painless.

English Major said...

Dear Anonymouses the world over: I know I'm privileged. This is like pointing out that I have brown hair. It's just true. "Overprivileged" is up for debate. I do not, in fact, have a trust fund, so I am not, in fact, a trust fund baby. Do I come from a family with money? Yes. We're square with that.

I have certainly had the luxury of not having to do certain things, like file for insurance reimbursement (though seriously, I'm 23—when do most people start doing this? Can it be earlier than 18?). Those of you who are suggesting that I learn how to do it—well, in fact, that is what this post is about. Me learning how to do it.

Are we clear?

Good.

Jon said...

Sounds like the same anonymous person who left a nasty comment at Well-Heeled. How obnoxious.

ps. I have no idea how to go about filing an insurance claim! I just got my first job that actually provides health insurance, though, so maybe I'll find out soon enough.

SF Money Musings said...

I let about $400 in reimbursements pile up a few months ago and it was a nightmare to sort through the receipts. And for some reason because I ran one receipt through the fax machine one too many times, the ink on the receipt faded and they insurance company wouldn't reimburse me $20 for dental expenses related to something I purchased at Rite Aid. They reimbursed me the $380 but it took weeks because I had to mail in my claims. They apparently didn't receive any of my faxes.

Quotes said...

I can sympathize with your procrastination problem. We should remember what William James said: "Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."