Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Negotiating health care costs---at the end of the calendar year.

   The Mini-Marathon® is on May 5. This is my personal account of why the Mini®—this will be my 14th in a row—is important to me.  To paraphrase the title of The Ventures’ song, I walk—do not run—the 13.1 miles. Considering that in 1994, by the second of nine days in the hospital, I completely had lost use of my legs, doing those 13.1 miles is pretty good.

   I lay on the ice-covered asphalt of the crosswalk, staring at a car heading my direction. My mind moved a bit more quickly than usual. Adrenaline might have had something to do with that. I quickly dismissed the thought of standing up and dodging the vehicle. My feet flying out from under me what was had gotten me into this predicament. If the same thing happened, I would be—I believe the technical, medical term is—smooshed. A second solution would be to lie flat on the ground and let the car pass over me. But this was February, my clothes were bulky, and I was pretty sure clothing would snag and I would be rolled into a bloody pulp. I don’t know why or how I did what I did. I stood on my knees. By now the car had slowed to about 5 m.p.h. When the front of the vehicle reached me, I grabbed the top of the hood and rode the car into the intersection. My legs encountered little friction, what with the roadway’s icy surface.When the car (finally) stopped, I let go and fell backward.

     As luck would have it, an EMT was in Sitzmark (no longer there) and was out there in a flash, although how he managed to get there that fast on the ice is beyond me. He said something to the effect of, "Buddy, lie still. We called 9-1-1 and an ambulance is on the way."

   I said, "Could someone move that car?" The grill was two feet above me and two feet behind. I had visions of another car hitting its brakes and rear-ending the vehicle that struck me: under the vehicle I would go. The car was moved and IPD was on the scene, directing traffic away.

   Someone asked if I needed a blanket. There are several "up" sides to MS. After all, if you are going to get a diagnosis that bad, there should be some sort of offset. One of the pluses is that I am impervious to cold, so I told them I was okay. Another officer asked if I wanted them to call my wife. I told them no, I would call her. I asked them to call my the office and tell them what had happened, but not to tell my wife. I would call her later. I was afraid that if she got the news second-hand, she would freak out.

   I was placed on a back-board and set on a guerny, then popped into the back of the ambo. That was when more questions came: name, occupation (I said, "You’ll love this") and to what hospital I wanted to be taken. I asked about the prefix of the license plate of the car that hit me. This was under the old Indiana system of plates, when each county had a numerical prefix that reflected its place in the 92-county alphabetical order. The ambo driver said "29." That meant Hamilton County, and thus a reasonable inference that the driver of the car was insured. I said, "Take me to St. Vinny’s."

   They strapped my head to the back board—and the rest of me, too. I was in the hospital for two or three hours, most of which were spent strapped to the board, lying in a hall, waiting to be seen. Finally, all was done, I was told I had experienced soft tissue trauma as I recall, and told I could go home. I asked them to call a cab for me, then I called Sarah.

   Sarah was (understandably) somewhat miffed. She had called the office several times and been stonewalled. I said, "I’m okay. I had a little accident. A guy hit me as I was walking across the street." She still freaked out, but at least she her from me that I was okay.

   When I got home I was stiff as hell. I got a couple of ice packs out of the freezer and applied them to my back. The cats knew who I was and lay down next to me on the couch.

   I visited a chiropractor the next morning and began a three-month course of adjustments. I called a colleague to handle the personal-injury aspect of things. The claim was settled about a year-and-a-half later. The entire time I made my fifty-dollar-per-week payments to the other hospital. About the end of the calendar year, Sarah called me at the office and asked me what the balance was at the other hospital. Between our challenges to improper items billed and my weekly payments, the balance was down to a little over $9K. She suggested I call finance there and offer them a deal. This was the end of the calendar year and they would want to clear up as many books as possible.

   The person who answered referred me to the supervisor—the voice was oddly familiar, like the one of the woman who had said I would be shipped to Wishard—who asked me what I wanted. I said I could continue to pay $50 per week, per the agreement that now was well-established; or I could pay one lump-sum payment of one-half the balance as it then stood.

   "Will you have a cashier’s check for that amount if we send a person there to pick it up?" she asked.

   "Yes. Will that person be authorized to sign a release?"

   "Yes," she said. "And she’ll have a release for you to sign. She’ll be there in 30 minutes."

   The person arrived in 30 minutes. I handed over the cashier’s check and both releases were signed. Of the original $20K bill, $11.5K was paid. $4500 was written off in that last negotiation. The rest was disallowed because the place tried to charge me for items otherwise not chargeable, like unnecessary MRIs. I think there are a lot of charges like that in the system. We should not need insurance companies charging us a lot of bucks to "protect" us from health care providers.

   By then I was walking about three miles each morning. I wanted to walk longer distance. And I had heard so many people use the Mini-Marathon® as a personal goal. 


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