June 4th, 2018
Continuing the story of what halted my travel to Alaska with the following disclaimer-lite. Be aware that the current theme I am using places the whole post and not just a summary. They are in reverse order if you want to read previous ones on the home page. I plan on going into some detail that is a bit personal dealing with bills. I am done with the graphic nature of what happened to me. I do get preachy, though. If you feel you do not want to read this for it may offend you or may reveal too much about me, please move on. I intend to write about more travel exploits soon to catch up from the previous as well as new ones. Thanks for understanding.
(March 28th, 2018, until last week)
After I left the hospital, I needed to get my prescription filled. It was a potent antibiotic and should kill just about everything, and one of the requirements was staying out of the sunlight. As mentioned earlier, that was not an issue because I am not a fan of the sun. So, my friend and I drove to my local pharmacy where I usually got meds when using insurance. I gave them the prescription, and they had us wait. They finally called me and said A) it was about $280 and B) they did not have any at that location. They suggested that I get it at another site a few miles away.
We traveled to the other location but opted not to go there, as we checked other options on the way. My friend used to work at a drug store, and her husband still managed one. She called them and asked for the price of the drugs, and it was $40 less, but still kind of expensive. I say it is costly because my friend knew about this medicine and said it should have been around $20. On the way to the competing drug store, we passed a grocery chain that also had a pharmacy. We asked for the prescription to be filled and was told $80. I asked for that to be clarified because of the substantial difference. The pharm tech said it was the stuff I was looking for. She called us back after 20 minutes and said she apologized because she didn’t realize my prescription was for a slow release and that was why it was so expensive. She said to correct the problem, her manager suggested contacting the hospital to get it swapped to the regular release. I was called back a few minutes later, after shopping for quick food, and she not only got the prescription swapped, but it was $17 instead of $80. Because there was virtually no difference in the usage of the drug, we were wondering why the more expensive one was prescribed in the first place.
I then went home and suffered from Lily trying to climb on me and barking at my friend. She eventually calmed down, and I was able to suffer in silence. This lasted for at least a few weeks because I was not able to sit up (and hence not able to write). I couldn’t sit at my computer, and I couldn’t get into a comfortable position with my laptop. I basically was able to feed Lily and let her out to do her stuff in the front yard. I was also able to eat and sleep, but that was about it. I’m sure most of the pain was related to an incision that I discovered I didn’t need. I still had a lump in my groin, but hot compresses and the antibiotics made that go away, and the pain from that went away sooner than the pain from the cut. I had to change the dressing two to three times daily for the next three weeks, applying antibiotic ointment each time. It took me about a week before I was able to look at the wound and see if anything was amiss. Luckily it was fine except for a few pieces of gauze that got caught. It looked like puss, but it wasn’t.
As the days passed, I wondered what the deal was with the lab results. A week passed, and I did not hear anything about an STD, so I was in the clear as far as that went. I contacted the surgeon, via secure email asking about the labs and got a reply of basically, oh we will post them on the site, and you owe us $118 for the “surgery.” Turns out the $166 was just walking in the door. Once I looked at the labs, they made absolutely no sense, but nothing was showing elevated levels or anything to be concerned with. As much as I didn’t really want to pay that bill because of the service, I paid it anyway.
I wanted to know what the deal was with the bill for the hospital because that was the one that scared me. I was supposed to have access to their online portal but did not get an email with my login info. I called them and discovered they had my email spelled wrong. Once I corrected them, I was able to log into the portal. Since the email was the same one I used for the last 20+ years, I didn’t understand how that was the only bit of info that was incorrectly collected during my visit because everything on the portal was the info from when I was there in 2008. My phone number, insurance, and a few other details were very out of date. Either way, it was associated with my last name and DOB, so my bill and lab results were in there. The labs made no sense to me, but they were all “NORMAL.” I checked the bill, and it said I owed around $500. I figured because I paid $1000 onsite, I was in the clear.
I do not know how valid the order of the following is, nor if it is correct because it was so convoluted that none of it made, or makes, sense. Because the original bill was vague, I wrote and asked for a detailed invoice. It actually had less info than the first bill. After some days, I wanted to know when I was getting the $500 I was owed, I called the billing department and asked what the deal was. They said I still owed the $500. I asked for clarification because the original bill had a line that had a discount in there. The line was actually discount and payments on that one line. I asked for a reason why that was not split into separate line items, and they said that was in the detailed bill. I could get that, but it would need to be sent via mail because of HIPAA issues. I mentioned they were able to send two different other bills via the secured server, but they could not post this? They repeated the HIPAA issue. So, I waited for the bill to show and that one had even less info, but the payment and discount/credit was separated. Once I received that, I paid the difference. When I went to print it to have a copy for my records, the page was blank. I wrote them to inform them of this, giving details as a sound tech would. They asked me to troubleshoot it with them. Having tested on two computers and three browsers, I figured that was enough rather than doing their job for them, unless I could charge them for my time.
As for the depression, my life was getting back to normal, and I was finally getting better. On the day things were back to normal, I wrote a post, went out with some friends, and then checked the mail. I had a new bill from the lab. It was only $20, which was so much cheaper than what I paid when I had insurance. Although, I feel this is gonna bite me in the ass eventually because it looked like they charged the insurance company I had on file from 2008, which would have been wrong even if I still had insurance. I also had a letter from my credit card company saying they denied my refund request from the hotel I didn’t stay at in Key West (details on that in a few). There was a bill from the doctor I saw at the ER for less than 10 minutes, and it was over $800. Finally, there was a letter telling me my home owner’s insurance is dropping me because I had my dryer vent missing from my house (It fell off because the people that installed it never secured it. It pops back in.), and the roof was a mess. I knew about the roof, and it was one of the considerations about whether I was going on the road again. I started searching for someone to replace my roof and have been having a hell of a time. Never realized how many people did not want the business.
If you have been following this saga, you might be wondering whatever happened to the speeding ticket? Oh yeah, so the ticket said that the price, which was missing from the actual computer printed ticket (how hard was it to do a calculation with a computer like the one that printed it?), would be online in 7-10 days. I checked at 7, and it wasn’t there. I checked at 10, and it wasn’t there either. I called after 15 days, and the number listed directs you to the website or a phone number to pay. I wanted to get the price at least first. After getting the runaround, I called the billing number and spoke to someone that said the never have tickets posted for 15 days. I asked why it doesn’t state that or have the price on the ticket and she said she did not know. I asked her to add it to the suggestion box. I was able to get the price at the same time as her because she mentioned I shouldn’t have two bits of info listed at the same time. It was an either or. Once I did that, it still didn’t work until I inputted my last name in all caps (info that was not mentioned on the site). Now that I had the price, I contacted a ticket lawyer that only deals in FL and CA while the ticket was in GA. They had a number for out of state tickets and when I spoke to someone that said they couldn’t help me because the cop discounted my ticket and I am better off just paying it. It was interesting that the person told me the ticket was discounted before I said that happened. Seems like this is a common practice. I said that paying was an admission of guilt and doing so would get me another ticket, this time from the state of GA, known as a SuperSpeeder. I also would get points in FL because the speed was a point baring offense in FL. They informed me they are different databases and the ticket was reduced to preclude the other ticket, and as long as the two databases didn’t talk, which paying the ticket would prevent, I would be fine. So rather than fighting it, because that would require me to go to court in GA in May, I paid it. I also read that a lawyer from that area in GA would cost more than the ticket.
About the credit card dispute… The report stated Expedia said that I had no evidence of a phone call or canceled bill and that was why it was refused. I sent a copy of the cancelation and my phone records saying I called as well as all the people I spoke to from the hotel to Expedia with time stamps. My biggest issue was if I did not cancel, why did they refund part of my bill? That seemed like the most obvious attempt for me to cancel and proof that I did. Two weeks ago, I got the info that said I was refunded.
During all of this, I was getting calls from an organization that said they can help me with my medical bills. I was leery about it so looked them up, and they were legit. I wasn’t going to use them until I got the $800 bill. I called, and they sent paperwork. All of this is not digital. I filled it out and sent it back. I’m now waiting to hear from them. I got a second bill for the ER doctor. I thought they would have known I was using the assistance that the hospital recommended, but apparently, no one talks to anyone else. I learned that when I called the billing company and they said they never heard of the assistance company. I asked what I need to do if I pay the bill first and they asked someone. They said I can delay the payment but would need to call them to let them know the progress of this other company. As I have yet to hear back, I figured it would be quicker just to pay it. I asked if there was a self-pay discount and they knocked 20% off. Not great compared to everything else, but I took it.
So as of last week, I am debt free again except for my house. I’m still waiting on what is up with my roof, but that is going to wait until next week.
I keep mentioning the 2008 surgery because I was looking through papers for a quote for my roof and was finally able to file my paperwork for the last four years that just piled up because I was so busy with work. The event was in 2008, and the bill was from in 2015. There was a 6.5-year delay because they have 7 years to bill before it can be forgiven/is a loss for them. So as much as I think all the bills I have have been paid, I might get charged randomly at some point in the next seven years.
All these things kept piling on, and I just got depressed because no matter what I was doing, things were just getting worse. When I finally got over the depression, I had a cute little pup I was fostering that seemed not to be keen with other dogs in his face. There’s more to it than this, but I broke up a fight with him and another dog and used my arm to block it. My arm was swollen to the degree that I could not type on my phone for five days and after that did not have full functionality of my left hand to type on a computer until last week. The travel plan to and from Alaska was going to wrap up last week because I had plans to attend an event that would last from Thursday until Sunday. My arm was better by Wednesday, but I was planning for the event. As last Monday rolled around, you can see posting started again. And here we are.
After all this time, I realized I could have gone to a walk-in clinic and gotten antibiotics, paid less, and be done with it all without an incision that took over a month to heal and will scar me for life. I also checked the notes for the surgeon last week, and he had a different story to tell. He said I left because I needed to take care of my dog and he said I should go to the ER that night. He also alluded to another set of notes I did not have access to. The medical billing system is a bit screwed and needs to be fixed. And it really isn’t that difficult, the problem is there is no incentive for the medical industry to fix it. They use antiquated software that even when updated, doesn’t work correctly. Nothing has changed in the last 10 years that I have been dealing with bills. I’m not only shocked but appalled at how bad this system is. If anyone else wants to do what I did and drop out of the system, we can start a revolution. If everyone does it, they will have no choice but to fix it. Yes, part of my issue was the care, but the lingering bad feeling is based on the billing. I mean, look at what I paid, it was expensive, but I didn’t deal with deductibles and premiums. I just paid it outright, and I should be done unless the sneaky bill crops up. If I had insurance, I would have paid the co-pays and still not met the deductible so I would have paid the same amount after it spent a few months minimum going back and forth from the medical providers to the insurance company and then eventually to me. Why pay a middleman to “help you” when it doesn’t benefit YOU in the end?
As for travel, I have another foster that seems to walk with Lily on a leash pretty good. I want to explore some local state parks. My concern is the heat. I’m seeing it is in the nineties when I’m writing this. We are now walking in the morning, but I went out earlier than the two days prior by about an hour, and it was still pretty hot, we will see how this goes.