Read or Listen Along!
So this morning I finally made the second step in my mental health journey I am now calling the Jedi Mind Trip.
About 2 months ago, I began putting my mental health on the front burner instead of letting it turn to charcoal on the back one. I saw my first psychiatrist in over 15 years and began a new round of antipsychotics that have a variety of interesting side effects.
I was supposed to schedule a follow up right away and do my assigned homework of finding a counselor. Instead, I have been floating around in a happy bubble of I did it, pretending the hard part was over.
It’s not. And it may never be.
But that’s ok.
So after waiting far too long, I made the call to schedule a follow up with my primary care physician. More importantly, I reached out to my insurance company to find out what all this was going to cost me. Since the canning, we have needed to make a series of difficult cutbacks in order to afford things like the mortgage and coffee creamer. You know…the essentials.
Back in 2012, I had finally qualified for insurance coverage and scheduled myself a standard physical. For the next two years, I spent almost 10 hours per week, every week, fighting with United Healthcare over a $2,000 bill on the blood work from that appointment.
Ultimately, the lab company ended up writing the whole thing off, but over the course of those two years, I learned one valuable lesson. MAKE SURE IT’S COVERED. Insurance companies do not have their shit together. You would think they do, but trust me, they don’t.
In the course of that adventure (or trip through hell, all Dante style as I like to think of it) I had my claim lost twice; re-billed, unbilled, and billed again; overcharged, undercharged, and coded to the wrong code multiple times; and passed along to no less than 50 people. No wonder people don’t go to the doctors.
I have an entire file 3 inches thick of correspondence I had sent and received along with copious notes from every exchange.
I am not going through that again.
Fortunately, my insurance not only covers the full amount of each session with only a $10 copay, they even give me 3 free visits.
You would think this is all good news right!? And you would be right, it is all grand. But for some reason when the super awesome lady on the other side of the phone called me a Jedi for using yoga and meditating to calm my anxiety, I totally lost my shit.
I have become an expert at having a silent shit-fit.
It’s super unattractive to watch, but if you can’t see me, you would have no idea it’s happening.
So while the amazing lady I am now going to call Obi Juanita basically set everything up for me without having to ask, I slowly made my way under my desk to have a little cry.
Next, I naturally texted the BFF to let her know what was going on in an effort to have some accountability for the situation.
She gave me 10 minutes to drag myself out and together Mo and I hashed it out amongst the dust bunnies and dog hair tumbleweeds.
Personal note, I really need to vacuum.
During my two year adventure through insurance hell, I definitely picked up a few tips and a whole lot of never do that again. In fact, I was able to put together a little tracking log that I hope will never come in handy again. Additionally, I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 tips for dealing with insurance companies.
5 Tips for Dealing with your Insurance Company
1. Document EVERYTHING
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but it is the central key to any successful insurance battle. You are going to want to know all the nitty-gritty details of every time you picked up the phone or sent a letter. You can use my easy tracking sheet to keep a consistent record of every contact! Keep these notes handy every time you have a conversation with anyone involved in the matter and be ready to recite them when the time comes. Trust me, it will!
2. Keep everything in WRITING
Calls to your insurance company and provider may seem like a quick solution, but those conversations are not recorded for your benefit! When you are dealing with your insurance company, keep as much of the correspondence in writing as you can. Most insurance companies do not use email. Send certified letters and keep a copy for your records. It may take longer to get your claim dealt with, but it will be worth it in the long run!
3. Know your RIGHTS
Insurance companies are big business! They are not out to keep your best interest in mind, so it is your responsibility to stay informed and educate yourself on your rights. Read your insurance policy inside and out, know what your coverages are and keep them handy. Depending on the complexity of your situation, you may want to enlist the help of a third party advocate! Patient Advocate services are out there to help you. Especially if your claim ends up going to arbitration.
4. Work with your PROVIDER
The politics of the health care industry are daunting. Sometimes the way your physician codes your claim will make all the difference between covered and not. Talk with your provider and their billing department first to see if there is anything they can do to help the situation. Most networks have a special billing and claims department that handles this. Be polite and ask for help. They are usually on your side! Also, know that most major insurance companies and medical networks have an agreement on what can be charged back to the patient. If your network is charging you for something that they shouldn’t be, they need to write it off!
5. Be POLITE and PATIENT
Finally, this will take time! LOTS of time in most cases. Just keep your head up and your temper down. Getting angry will do no one any good. Most of the people you will talk to have no more power to fix the situation than your Aunt Sally. You need to work within the system and be professional. The better your relationship with all the players, the easier it will be. Speak up for yourself in a respectful manner.
Granted, I am no insurance expert, but if I ever needed to return to the eighth circle of hell again, I would want these in my back pocket.
In case you are wondering, the eighth circle is home to the fraudulent…I’m looking at your United Healthcare!
Giant mental health shaped rocks can be hard to get rolling, but it’s the effort you put into it that matters. Even a little forward movement is worth celebrating. And as Obi Juanita said, you are a Jedi.
“To be a Jedi is to face the truth and choose.” -Yoda