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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Man of steel

I'm working on insurance problems again. You have to be like iron when dealing with this kind of stuff, but today they really got under my skin. The only way I've been able to make progress has been to go over to the hospital, sit down with the account person and wait with them on hold with the insurance company. That way when the insurance folks say misleading or incorrect things, I am there to get the matter back on track.

They were so screwed up today that I was embarrassed for them. At first. Then I was angry, and I'm usually pretty calm about these things. You have to outlast them if you want to get paid. If you get stressed and have a heart attack and die, you lose, because you don't get paid.

But today was insane. First they said we hadn't made an appeal. Except that we made appeals on two claims together. We talked about one, then we talked about the other. I followed up in writing, and listed both claims in my letter. They reevaluated one, but forgot to process the other.

Then they said they didn't have the records they need. Only I had the records mailed to them a month ago, everything they should need, and we had the mailing dates; it was a file too thick to fax. Ten or fifteen minutes on hold, and "John" reported that yes, they did actually have the records all along.

Then it's going to take 30-60 days to process. The hospital was pretty frustrated at this and pressed, since we have been working on this account since July 26th. Ah well, it could actually be handled in 7 days.

The description I would apply to the situation: malicious incompetence.

Still, if you last long enough and don't die you can win, and I still expect things to work out. I've tried to think if I have done anything "wrong" in my appeal, and the only thing I can think of is this. I referred to two claims in the same letter since they were nearly identical and from adjacent months. It could be (in their incompetence) that they filed my letter with one claim and then neglected the other. In the future, I'll refer to only one claim per sheet of paper and just write two letters with the same information to be safe.

Add that to my "lessons on dealing with insurance companies" I guess.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Home for Thanksgiving

We stayed in town for Thanksgiving, and some friends brought their kids over. We did the usual things. We had more food that you shuold reasonably eat. Then we sat around and played board games on the floor. The games of choice were mancala and checkers, although there was a reasonable dose of running around acting crazy too.

Today we stayed at home, waiting for FedEx to deliver a package. I find FedEx a real pain if they miss a delivery. Since they aren't local, you can't have them hold a package for pickup. It's just best to be at home when things arrive. I prefer UPS for that reason, or even the plain old mail, when I have the choice.

Tonight we watched "While You Were Sleeping," one of the best Christmas movies ever. We pretty much watch it every year. Tomorrow I have to go to the library with Ellie. We lost a movie, and I finally found it yesterday. I had them mark it "lost" but I want to take it back before they replace it and make me pay for it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Trying out Flock

One thing about free software people like me; we like to tinker. Since most of our software doesn't cost money, there's not so much to keep you from trying something out to see if it is nice. I ran across a web browser call Flock (www.flock.com) that is basically my favorite web browser with extra integration for blogging.

I clicked something, and it popped up a window for me to "Blog this." So here I am typing, and we'll see if the magic works when I hit "Publish." Just so you know, if you can read this it worked.

All covered

Ellie got her flu vaccination this morning, so as soon as it takes (I suppose a week or so) we should all be covered as well as we can be for the season. Ellie gets a live virus vaccine, which they spray up her nose, since it would be hard to talk her into getting a shot. Immunity lasts for 12 months instead of 9 for the shot, so we had to wait until today to get the booster. She was immunized last year on November 22 also.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Linda and I went shopping last week. She needed new jeans, and the JC Penny in town doesn't carry the kind she likes any more. So we made a trip to Columbia and went to the mall.

I've been reading lots of great things about JC Penny lately in the stock-market press. But personally, I don't see why they think this is such a great retailer. Their stores just don't seem that nice. All of the merchandise is arranged too close together so it is hard to get around the store, especially with a wheelchair. We had to ask to find a handicap accessible changing room, and then it didn't even have a grab bar.

I don't think it should take a PhD to realize that if you have a wheel chair, you might want a bar to hold on to for changing clothes. As it is, I had to help Linda. Lame lame lame.

I already thought JC Penny was lame. I once saw a curtain rod that I liked in Columbia, but it was too long to put in the car and haul home. So I tried to buy it at the Penny's here. Nope, they don't carry it. I'm thinking, no problem. I'll order it from the catalog. No can do. The catalog carries different merchandise than the stores.

Now maybe, I've been using the internet too long because I think that ought to be in capital letters. WHAT KIND OF COMPANY CARRIES MERCHANDISE IN THEIR BRICK-AND-MORTAR STORES THAT YOU CAN'T BUY ONLINE FROM THEIR CATALOG?

My prayer/curse for JC Penny. May the internet kill you swiftly and painlessly.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Yea, for me.

Today I got a letter from the insurance company. They've finally paid their portion (about $800) for Linda's physical and occupational therapy from back in July. I've been getting collection letters over this account for about a month or so, so I'm pretty happy to see it resolved. It also means that the bills from June ought to be resolved any time now as well.

I'm so pleased, I think I may go over to the billing office at the hospital and pay the rest of the bill in person. I had to go over in person once already to get it straightened out. Soon we'll all be friends in the billing office.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Conversations at 10pm

Ellie came from bed one day this week when she was supposed to be asleep. "I had a bad dream."

I asked her if she wanted to sit on my lap for a few minutes while I read some web pages, and she was OK with that. I said, "Yeah, bad dreams happen sometimes."

She told me very matter-of-fact, "Sometimes they don't get caught in your dream catcher."


Thursday, November 09, 2006

FYI on CapitalOne

Just in case you are looking at advertisements and thinking about getting one of those CapitalOne No Hassle cash credit cards, I thought I'd let you know mine's actually been a lot of hassle.

First, I'm pretty sure it is actually designed to be a hassle. When you go to the web site for bill payment and old statements and so on, there are no links to redeem your cash rewards. To actually claim your rewards, you have to realize this and type in a special web address that is printed on your statement. You have to make a separate account in the rewards system, and you claim your rewards there. Maybe not a hassle exactly, but if your trademark is "No Hassle cash" I don't think that really meets the bar.

But for me it has been a real hassle, because the rewards system has lost my account information. I noticed it last month when I could no longer login to the rewards system. So I called CapitalOne, who verified that I have a No Hassle cash account (just like it says right on my card). They transferred me to the rewards folks, who seem to be a separate group. The rewards folks proceeded to inform me that I had no such account, but they took down my information and promised to straighten it out with CapitalOne.

It's been a couple of weeks, and the web page doesn't work for me yet. So I called again this morning. The CapitalOne phone system assures me that I have $71 in rewards to be claimed, and again the rewards folks have no idea and are calling supervisors. I'm a little put out, because I could have been earning points on my Amazon.com visa card and frankly this is getting to be quite a hassle.

There are so many cards that offer rewards and most of them really are no hassle. I think some ought to slap CapitalOne for being stupid and take their trademark away.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Busy Saturday

We kept quite busy today. This morning, we went to the courthouse to vote absentee since a busy polling place is a bit hard for Linda. We voted for justice, freedom, and the American way. Now we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Elie was invited to a birthday party this afternoon. It was a princess party, so we dressed her up and met about dozen other princesses for games and cake and presents. Ellie was delightfully well-behaved. I was surprised how good she was at Miss Pacman. I am better at it than when I was a kid, but I don't think at 5 I would have had much skill.

Oh, you know how it is. Kids are so skilled these days.

Friday, November 03, 2006

New management

Yeah, so Linda's takeover of the blog didn't last so long. She's not really a computer person anyway.

It's been a crushingly busy week this week, or I might have updated things. Tests to write, tests to grade. Extra committee meetings (and preparatory work).

One little island of quiet came in the middle. Linda and I went on a date last night. It was really for Ellie. I had promised Ellie a babysitter some time ago, and it was time to make good on the promise. So I arranged for her favorite babysitter to come over and make cookies with her.

Linda and I went out. We'd been together during the day (although I was working so it doesn't count quite the same), so we didn't have a whole lot of talking and catching up to do. Linda can't talk all that much when she eats anyway or she coughs a lot. But we had a nice time anyway. We don't get out all that often, and getting out without Ellie is truly rare.

Poo-pooing physical therapy

Linda decided to enroll at the fitness center this week. Basically she wants a place where she can walk the track once or twice a week, not surrounded by beautiful people. We went on Tuesday, and again on Thursday. She's a bit out of practice because we've not done as much recently, but I suppose it went fine. It's definitely work for her.

She probably won't go back to PT unless she wants to work on some specific skill. The part of PT Linda found the most useful at the end was walking anyway, and we can do that on our own. Since an hour with the PT pays for a year's membership at the gym, it's a lot cheaper too. And Linda kind of likes being more in charge of her program.

So I guess you could say she's graduated, or perhaps more accurately that she has decided to graduate.