I am generally a positive person, and I try not to get down too much of a negative road thinking that everyone else is an idiot and incapable of doing their jobs. Part of that is that my attitude growing up was sort of snarky, and I always assumed that I was a few steps ahead of the fools around me (not surprisingly, I had a very frustrating childhood). I think the other part is because of my job, and having to anticipate everything that can go wrong all the time, and not trusting that someone will actually do what they’re supposed to do. Which is exhausting, but sadly, more often than not, someone will justify your acting this way.
After I got sick last year and became a poster child for why HMOs don’t work when you have a medical emergency (i.e., waiting 4 days for an MRI to be approved when everyone thinks you just had a stroke), I signed up for the PPO plan instead, which allows me to go to any doctor I want, and also means I don’t have to wait to get crucial procedures approved in times of crisis. My company offers a Flex Spending plan, which is one of those savings accounts where they take money from your pay check, pre-tax, and put it in an account for you to use for your out-of-pocket medical expenses. They even give you a handy little debit card, which you are supposed to be able to use for co-payments and such. I say “supposed to” because at least 75% of the time, when I go to use my card, it is declined. This is because the Flex Card company has the right to question and dispute any charges you make with the card, until you provide a ridiculous amount of back up paperwork. Since I have no less than five specialists and need blood work done, at a minimum, once a month, it is impossible to keep up with all of their disputing. They also suck at sending out the notices in a timely manner, so I’ll go to use my card a doctor’s office and it will be declined, making me look like a deadbeat and a loser. I’ll pay the co-payment out of pocket and get a notice from the Flex Card company a week later explaining that I should have had back up documentation for a $6.13 charge for blood work from a few weeks before, and they have frozen my account until I provide the paperwork.
It is difficult to verbalize all of the things that are maddening about this. I have a hematological auto immune disease. I would like someone there to use their brains and realize that, it is routine that I will have a lot of blood work, visits to the Hematologist, and visits to the Rheumatologist. Disputing every charge that comes through is an obvious waste of time and money. Also, their letters of dispute are not very specific, and since I have so many appointments, half the time I don’t even know which one they’re talking about. The most frustrating part of all is that I will end up paying off the disputed amount to have my card unfrozen, because I just don’t have the time and patience to do the detective work to figure out what their problem is and provide them with the level of documentation needed to fix. I already have a full time job.
With the Flex Card, you put a pre-determined amount of money in the account for a calendar year. If you don’t use all that money, it disappears. I put my out-of-pocket maximum on there, not being familiar with PPOs or having a handle on what I would be paying on my own. The maximum was $3000. I am likely to lose half of that money because they keep freezing my card and I can’t keep up with the paperwork needed to keep it working.
After I moved over the weekend, I was sorting through the paperwork that had been mounting up, and I had at least four letters from the Flex Card people. I just called them to figure out what the problem was because the letters are not detailed enough for me to know. I was ready for a fight and was preparing in my head all of the bitchy one-liners I could use on the poor, unsuspecting (and probably undeserving) customer service rep. My irritation was deflated immediately when the man on the phone asked my last name, the charges I was calling about, and then told me that everything had been settled already and that there are no outstanding charges. I’m not sure why or how that happened, and I may have been too confused to be appropriately grateful.
Similarly, about a year ago, my cell phone went on the fritz. I thought I was a few months too early to be eligible for an upgrade, so I stormed into the AT&T store ready for a fight. I said to the rep, “I need a new phone but I’m not sure if I’m eligible for an upgrade.” I must have sounded prickly, because he immediately seemed uncomfortable. He asked my phone number and looked me up in the computer, as he explained, “If you are not eligible, the computer will literally lock me out from doing anything.” I started railing, “Well that is completely unacceptable! I need a phone that works! I need -” He cut me off as he saw my account information on his screen. “You’re eligible.” I sniffed, “Well, then I would like the Samsung Focus, please.” As we walked out the door, my boyfriend, who was patiently standing by my side throughout this exchange (and to his credit, did not run away at any point), said, “You’re an idiot.”
He had a point, but I was just not anticipating it to be that easy. How often in life are things less difficult than you expect them to be? Hardly ever!! However, it would probably save some stress and my blood pressure if I approached situations with a more optimistic outlook and not from a negative place, expecting to have to fight dramatically for what I need or want. My mother has a fairly adversarial personality, so I’m guessing I either inherited this from her biologically, or it comes from a lifetime of learned behavior. A behavior that has more than run its course and will need to be unlearned. Wish me luck.