No, actually, I would not, but you, bill collector, seem to want me to since you just sent me this really polite letter.
Our records indicate a past due balance of One Bazillion Dollars, give or take a million. To date, we have not received payment, or heard from you regarding this balance.
(Interesting since I had not heard from them about this balance either, but they seemed to think I had, cause this came next.)
We understand this may be a simple oversight, or you may be experiencing financial difficulties.
(No, because this is the first time I’ve seen this bill for my neck surgery last September, and yes I have financial difficulties especially after this bill, but I highly doubt this is going to let me get out of paying out what is left of my Eleventy Bazillion Dollar surgery, after insurance. Good thing they only fixed one neck disc thingy.)
Please contact us within 15 days of receiving this letter. OR ELSE.
The Spine Guys”
This letter actually came after this lady from the Spine Guys called me up during Jeopardy, of all things, to inform me of the bazillion dollars I owed them and that I needed to pay it right then or else they would come and reverse the surgery. Or something like that. She wasn’t very nice since she seemed to think I had been ignoring their letters, which I had not since I’m pretty sure I would have remembered that amount. I mean, yeah, I had ignored some other medical bills (they all come separately from each person in the operating room for your convenience), but not a bill to THEM, so jeez. I asked if this was after insurance and she said “Yes, MA’M” which I just love being called, and said I could always pay it the very next day, at my latest appointment where they would x-ray my neck AGAIN to make sure foreign objects were still holding it together properly. I said “Um, cancel that appointment.” Also I asked for a bill I could actually see. So they sent one, and also that letter, in two separate envelopes, a few days ago. I got another one today, just in case.
I like how the doctor holds his money under his medical equipment while personally making out my bill.
Now one thing I can say about these jerks, I mean miracle spine fixers, was that they at least came to a payment arrangement without much difficulty when I called them back later. Well, so far it seems okay. I had another payment plan where my bank acted kinda like me when I am not in the mood to pay my medical bill, as they stopped paying the hospital without telling me. I then got a call from the hospital and they asked if I had realized that the money had stopped being drafted from my account. I had not. I notice when money is taken, but not when it stays in the bank. I’m pretty happy when it stays in the bank. So then she offered to let me pay less money since I didn’t pay it on time.
In other words, if you are irresponsible, you get to pay less money. Makes sense.
Another fun thing about medical bills is that even though they really want you to pay them, for some reason they make this payment as difficult as humanly possible. This is partly achieved by not having humans answer the phone when you call with those pesky questions like “Is this bill part of the 100 dollars I was billed earlier, or for something else?” or “What person /place/ thing is this bill for exactly?” or “Who are you, cause I don’t remember ordering a horoscope reading during my surgery?” They make you type numbers into the phone, or worse, they have you speak into the phone to a robot for whom English is a second language. You get nowhere super fast, and soon enough you are right back where you started at the main menu. I mean it would be easier if they just sent you ONE itemized bill with everything you owe, but no, it has to be done in random stages and it’s even better if you’ve been seen for more than one thing recently, as I had with a surgery and depression treatments with the new drug Spravato (ketamine shot up the nose). I need a Spravato treatment after every attempt to PAY for a Spravato treatment.
At least these guys did bill me later, rather than asking for the money up front before I was even allowed to walk into the office, like they did for the MRI I had of my neck. It was the height of Covid season, or people caring anything about it at least, so someone literally came out to our car to bill us 300 dollars, took our card back with them to run it, then came back out again to return the card before telling us to keep waiting in our car until they deigned to let us and our cooties into their office. They didn’t seem to care that I was certain I’d met my deductible, cause I was not getting in there without paying. It’s like some people wait too long to pay their bills or something. Anyway, all that was for the chance to lay in a box for thirty-full minutes while they did construction on the outside of the box. That’s what it sounded like anyway. You’d think by now they could have improved this, but the not-as-excruciating machine costs more, so give me the construction box.
Would you like some claustrophobia?
Several other doctors also demanded payment up front, so eventually my insurance company sent me a refund. Then my insurance company later said “Oh we sent you too much, pay us back pronto.” Like that’s YOUR mistake, not mine, so why should I fix it? They kept mailing me about it, though, so today I tried to pay the forty-five dollars I owed back to them. It did not go well, as the nice foreign robot kept asking me to punch in numbers, then telling me my numbers were wrong, then asking me to do it again with feeling, before I got sent to a live person who informed me they didn’t take payments there. Like what was I thinking, just because the letter told me to call that number? She did give me a website – that was not on the letter – where I was able to pay quickly. I checked my bank online to make sure it went through, and was informed that it was down for maintenance. They were sorry for the inconvenience.
So am I. Maybe I’ll just wait again until they lower my bill. Bad Alice, bad.
Thurs. Afternoon (cue that Law and Order ding-ding)
I arrive at La Resorta de Enferma (years of Spanish classes at your service here) at around noon. My husband drops me off at Registration while he attempts to find a parking place. There is a short line. I notice an old lady with a walker. She tries to cut the line. Yeah, I don’t think so Grandma. I assert my place, and give her a look that says “I will trip you, lady.” She backs off.
Next it’s time for paperwork. Mostly it’s signatures on stuff I don’t read but I’m pretty sure it says something along the lines of “patient will not sue if maimed or killed in our care”. They make sure I have a driver’s license and insurance card, and make copies. I guess this is in case I flee to Mexico without paying. Then I get the royal treatment – a wheelchair ride into the elevator and up to my floor. No one wants to ride with us for some reason, so the elevator is all mine. Wheee.
There are tiny accommodations, but I don’t have to share, so I’m happy. They give me my uniform that snaps on the sides and opens in the back. At one time this might have embarrassed me, but I’ve given birth twice now. There are few people that haven’t seen me, you know, “there”, so I don’t care. I get more paperwork! They ask if I want to fill out a living will. You know. Just because. No real reason.
I am hooked up to an I.V. by a nurse who does not use the vein I’m complimented on so often, but another further down the arm that apparently takes some digging around to get just right. They put a bag of fluid into the I.V. This insures that the patient will have to go to the bathroom every half hour, yet be unable to do so, because she is chained to an I.V. pole. I’m not sure if there’s a purpose to it. I think the doctors just do it because it’s kind of funny to pretend they don’t hear you when you push the nurse’s button needing to go potty. I swear they hung up on me a couple of times.
Well, at least the IV will mean they won’t have to keep sticking me. Oh, but wait. Yes they will. You see, they only use the IV to stick stuff in you, not to take it out. And they must take your blood out at certain times, like midnight when you’ve finally fallen asleep, and then they must take out so much that even the nurse comments that she has no idea why they want so much. I think they’re conducting Nazi experiments, but I could be wrong. Should you see a familiar looking Alice clone walking around sometime, you will know what happened.
But La Resorta has some advantages. There is a bed that adjusts up and down. Sometimes all by itself. At first I thought the bed was possessed, but the nurse informed me that it’s a smart bed, which should be a warning right there. The bed is designed to adjust by itself to keep you from getting bed sores, but mostly it just annoys the patients. Nice to know.
There is also room service. I am not on restricted diet, so I order something that claims to be a chicken pot pie, but it is no Stouffers, let me tell you. The cake is excellent, though. They also bring me drinks when I ask, and all my meds, right to my bed. This is much better service than I find at home. Home service mostly consists of getting dumped in the back bedroom and totally forgotten about. This might be partly my annoyed perception of events. I am a good caretaker, and I expect the same, like a little bell I can ring for service. Or a button to push. One where the people on the other end, I repeat, do not hang up on you. (Yes La Resorta nurses, I am looking at you.)
Finally, there is entertainment. There’s a large T.V. in the corner of the room, and an actual real remote, which is a real improvement over the remote at the last hospital I visited years before. That one only went up or down through about sixty channels, several of which were either Spanish, religious, or religious Spanish. Or sports.
Shockingly, there is still nothing on T.V. TLC has decided to air a marathon of “Say Yes To the Dress”, except no, it’s not a marathon, there are just half a dozen shows on this station about weddings. Why. Just why? On “Say Yes to the Dress” the tension hinges on whether the bride will select this dress or that dress. Or possibly another dress. All costing more than my first house. But that’s okay, because you get so much wear out of these kinds of dresses.
There’s another show where women visit each others’ weddings and rate which one is the best. And they act like catty jerks while doing their evaluations, because as you know everyone’s wedding sucks but yours. They get annoyed that a Catholic wedding ceremony is like, so long, and that priest guy was totally dressed femmy and all. Also, the enormous ballroom is bo-ring, and the silverware totally doesn’t match the flowers, or something else stupid. I hate this show worse than the one where people catcall the girl trying on dresses with such endearments as “That makes you look like a tramp!” And that one was from Grandma.
My parents are in Vegas at this time. Yeah, I know, my parents have way more fun than I do. Anyway, my dh has to leave to take care of children because apparently someone is supposed to be with them and I am left by myself at the hospital. Because I am big and strong I start getting a little scared and weepy and the nurses figure out there’s nothing physically wrong with me (besides the obvious Pneumonia crap) so they ease on out of there. Only the janitor stops picking up trash to hug and bless me. That was weird, but nice. So thank you janitor lady, wherever you are
Stay tuned for Part Two . . . it’s more exciting than TLC