What’s up, Doc?

This is a post containing a personal anecdote. It belongs on this political blog because it relates to health care. In case you were wondering.

A couple of months ago I went to the doctor. I had some follow up questions, so I figured I’d send him an email via the fancy patient portal account (because what else is that there for, if not to enhance patient/doctor communications?). A few days went by with no response, so I called the office. The Phone Answering Lady said she’d give him a message and get back to me. Few more days, no response. I called again. Same Phone Answering Lady again said that she’d ask him, and then would definitely get back to me, because their office was “like a squeaky wheel,” slow but they always get it done. Whatever that means.

Unsurprisingly, I never heard another peep from that office. I gave up trying to get my questions answered. Hopefully I don’t die.

But then, last week, a miracle happened: a phone call! From the doctor’s office! It was Phone Answering Lady herself! And let me tell you, she was sweet as PEACHES when she spoke to me. I instantly released all feelings of bitterness toward the doctor and his staff at the mere sound of her voice.

Her: “Hello, ma’am? This is Paula, at Dr. NoReply’s office.”

Me: “Yes, yes, YES!” (more so in my head, but you get the idea)

Her: “There seems to be a billing discrepancy from your last visit. Did your insurance change?”

Me: (with a sudden sinking feeling) “Oh…yes. I told you that when I came in. My new insurance doesn’t participate with Dr. NoReply, so I’m paying out of pocket.”

Her: “I see. We should have had you pay that when you were here. Well, we’ll just mail you the bill then. Goodbye!”

I hung up the phone feeling sullen. Used, even.

When the bill arrived the next day (literally), I put it on my kitchen counter for a while. Let THEM sweat it out a little. See how they like it.

A few weeks later, I had no fewer than three additional notifications from the doctor’s office regarding the bill — two via the patient portal (it DOES work!), and one text message. I’m still hesitant to pay it solely because I’ve finally uncovered a way to elicit actual responses from Dr. NoReply’s office. Those little pings! So many! I just can’t resist them!

So, if you’re having trouble reaching your health care provider, the moral of the story here is quite simple: DON’T PAY YOUR BILLS!!!! It works wonders.

You. Are. Welcome.