AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
After 2 long years I finally found the strength to break the chains of oppression that bound me to a tormenting partner who I trusted with the well being of myself and my family. My health insurance company.
I won’t say the name, but it rhymes with “Fatlantis”, and the experience I’ve had with them, while not dangerous or truly abusive, was as frustrating and just simply bizarre as it gets. Ever since getting health insurance for my dog many years ago, and then being told that everything that ever happened to him wasn’t covered by our policy, I’m not surprised by stories of health insurance companies NOT covering as many health issues as possible. After all, despite all their commercials featuring cute dogs protecting their beloved bones and young vibrant actors sailing and skiing into the sunset, their business model is that of a casino, in that they are betting that they get more money from our premiums than they pay out in our health care costs. Period.
But Atlantis (oh sue me) brought an all new level of ineptitude to the insurance game. On June 6 of this year, our beautiful daughter Casey was born. The fact that you are fully responsible for the massive health costs your child racks up by simply coming into existence, well before your health insurance company knows of her existence, is one of those things they don’t tell you about the miracle of birth. Foreseeing this, I actually called Atlantis before Casey was born to insure as seamless a transition in coverage as possible. I was told to fax an enrollment form upon her birth, and to then fax and mail it again when she received her Social Security Number. The gentleman on the phone suggested I send the form certified mail as well, which I did. Seemed overkill, but if I had to jump through a hoop or two to insure a smooth transaction, put me in a tutu and gimme a pogo stick, I’ll jump. Within a few weeks, we received an insurance card with Casey’s name on it, and bills reflecting a newly inflated monthly premium. Transition complete.
Then the doctor’s bills started arriving. And then the phone calls, from the hospital, pediatrician’s office, etc. Atlantis was apparently not paying ANY of Casey’s medical bills. I called and spoke to a well spoken woman who informed me I would have to speak to the billing and enrollment department. This is where the “abuse” begins, and as with many victims of abuse, I have suppressed many of the most troubling details. I did begin to recognize a pattern, however. Here’s a typical exchange with the “Billing and Enrollment” department of the Atlantis Health Insurance Company:
TJ: Hello Mr. Romita, (in thickest Indian accent imaginable. No- THICKER) this is Tim Jones. May I have your policy number please?
TJ: Thank you, how can I help you today?
ME: Yes, Hi, you guys aren’t paying any of my daughter’s medical bills and I don’t know why.
TJ: What bills specifically are you calling about?
ME: All of them Tim. All of them.
TJ: What is your doghter’s name?
ME: I’m sorry my who?
TJ: Your DAWCH-her.
ME: Ok, my daughter or my doctor?
TJ: DAH-CHTER, DAGH-TER, DAWK-HJETYER!
ME: I’m sorry I can’t understand. My daughter’s name is Casey and my doctor’s name is Dr. Chang. Use whatever you need.
At this point I swear instead of hearing fingers typing on a keyboard I hear papers shuffling…
TJ: Mr. Romita, I’m sorry we have no record of your dotcgher in our records. What is her name again?
ME: Oh! You’re saying Daughter! Her name is Casey. And you guys say the same thing every time I call. Then you promise me that the problem is being fixed. I don’t have time to keep…
TJ: Can you hold please?
35 minutes and 14 Yanni knock-offs later…
TJ: Mr. Romita, when did you send her enrollment form?
ME: Again really with this? I mailed it before she was born, then I faxed it two days after she was born then I faxed and mailed it AGAIN when she got her SS# a month later. The carrier pigeon should be arriving soon as well.
TJ: I’m sorry Mr. Romita, we never received any enrollment form for your daughctor.
ME: Then why did you send an insurance card with her name and policy number on it and increase our rates by $500 a month?
TJ: Hold please
20 minutes and an extended Spa Sounds/Bollywood mashup later…
TJ: Mr. Romita I have your new policy identification numbers. Do you have a pen?
ME: New ID numbers?! What are you talking about?
TJ: I am sorry, we had a computer glitch and we need to assign new ID numbers- do you have a pen?
ME: You had a computer glitch that sends out new ID cards to new members and increases rates but doesn’t pay bills, then requires everyone to get new ID numbers? I’ve called ten times and this is the first I’m hearing of this. What did your computers get the Ebola virus?
TJ: Hold please
ME: NO!! Is there anyone there who knows what they are talking about?
TJ: Mr. Romita, if you will simply scan and email your dogthccker’s enrollment form to firstname.lastname@example.org we will straighten out your dogkghqters bills immediately.
ME: Doctor or daughter?
And so it went , for three months, no bills got paid, no one in Atlantis India ever had an answer and I eventually had to drop Atlantis and switch to another company that rhymes with Foxford. I had no choice but to switch, for my dogwghwter’s sake.
Our new company seems great but the Atlantis fun continues. I have received about five letters denoting my owing of premiums for the two months SINCE I discontinued coverage, threatening to cancel my coverage I have already cancelled. I have received as many confirming that I have discontinued coverage and owe nothing. I guess I should send checks and then cancel them. Then I started receiving new ID cards. No letter, explanation why, just new cards for all with new ID numbers, of course for a policy we no longer have. And most recently, a letter to inform us that the rates on our policy, cancelled due to its utter worthlessness, were going up 14%.
I was a bit gun shy when around this time the front left wheel of our Slate Blue Uppababy Turbo Tot 9000 stroller with optional mounted 50 calibers and an onboard latte machine started squeaking, then vibrating violently. I waited till the child was on the verge of shaken baby syndrome and I called the manufacturer. A woman picked up. A live woman. A live woman who spoke English. Well. I was befuddled. I told her we had a squeaky wheel that turned into a shaky wheel. She asked if I had used any product on the wheel. I said WD-40. She sighed and said “Oooohhhh”.
I know that sound. That’s the sound the customer service person on the other end of the line makes to signal that YOU did something wrong and THEY are not going to help at all. I get immediately pissed:
“If you people don’t want us using WD-40 on squeaky wheels you should put that in big Goddamn writing on the instruction manual! I can’t believe you are not going to..”
“Mr. Romita if you will calm down long enough to give me your address I will gladly overnight a new wheel to you.”
“I’ll send you a new wheel. This happens occasionally so we send out new wheels when it does. Should get there tomorrow afternoon, if that’s ok. May I have your address?”
“I’m really sorry.”
“It’s ok. Oh and use petroleum jelly next time.”
“I could have used some of that dealing with my health insurance company.”
“Nothing. Thanks so much for your help- we live at 22 Smithfield Lane…..