I called 911 and an ambulance was here within ten minutes. They transported Bill to our nearby hospital which is only ten minutes away. Bill was admitted into the Emergency Room. The doctor on duty diagnosed his emergency as atrophic gastritis, esophagitis, hematemesis, multiple gastric ulcers and peptic stricture of esophagus. Translated that means one of more of his ulcers had hemmoraged. They gave him a high dose of pain killers and admitted him to the hospital.
Bill had a three day stay in the hospital.
Thankfully they got his condition under control and I took him home on November 30th.
Now to await the bills.
Bill doesn't have Medicare Part B.
Bill has been under VA care for thirty three years.
The VA will pay for using local emergency room costs if he meets eight requirements, which I won't list here because this blog post is going to be long enough as it is. But the main reason is if he fears for his health or life which coughing up blood would qualify.
The first bills arrived January 2nd. Happy New Year.
Bill #1 - Ambulance service $585.80
Bill #2 - Anesthesia - $900.00
Bill #3 - Emergency Physician - $949.00
Don't you love the way our medical system unbundles bills? Remember when an emergency room visit resulted in ONE bill?
We didn't receive the emergency room bill, which would be the BIG one.
So, my challenge in the new year was to get these bills paid.
I'm happy to say I resolved those three bills yesterday but not without jumping through flaming hoops and over six foot hurdles.
The ambulance service in particular concerned me because my understanding was that if I contributed to the local ambulance service annual fund raiser I was a subscriber and thus entitled to free ambulance service for myself or any member of my household as long as either one of us didn't have Medicare Part B.
Time for a phone call. I called yesterday morning to the ambulance service billing department and told them I was a subscriber. The woman who answered the phone checked and sure enough, I was. She said to disregard the bill. One down.
Now to call the VA billing department. I tried earlier in the week, twice. Couldn't get through. I left a message for them to call me back. They didn't. I called again after settling the ambulance bill. I got through! And just as I got through I saw another call coming through on my iPhone. This one from the doctor's office who was going to do Bill's cataract surgery on January 18th. A cataract surgery that was postponed from the original date of December 5th because of Bill's emergency. I hope I'm not losing anybody here with this narrative. It gets complicated and I gave it a lot of though, trying to condense it.
I took the call. The eye surgeon's coordinator ("Anita") said Bill has to see his cardiovascular (heart) doctor to get permission to undergo surgery. I told her he already got that in November. She said "Why didn't someone tell me?" I told her I went to the heart doctor as she requested and Bill got his EKG. She said he has to actually see the doctor. Several phone calls later to the heart doctor's office I found out that Anita had sent the wrong request to the heart doctor's office. I asked "Amy" at at the heart doctor's office "Did I do anything wrong?" She said "No, you did everything right. The request form was wrong."
Now we had to arrange a date for Bill to see the heart doctor. The earliest availability he had was in May! Obviously too late for his scheduled January 18th cataract surgery. Several more phone calls later we arranged a March 1st date (tentative) for his surgery, dependent on the VA Choice program approve. Which, by the way, two days ago I just got the notice that Bill was approved by the Choice program to see a cardiologist. I told Amy (at the heart doctor's office) we'll just wait until that process of authorization is complete. Of which I had to call the Choice number and tell them.
Lots of phone calls here folks. Trying to keep this all straight in my head (I take notes) is becoming a challenge to me even though I have a background in being a master of paperwork in my previous life as a bank trust operations manager.
Once I got that straightened out I called the VA again about the two $900 bills. They said they would pay them, just to notice the two different entities and have them send the bills to the VA in Wilmington. That I did, encountering a few heavily accented Spanish speaking folks on the other end of the line. And extra layer of difficulty I didn't need yesterday.
That whole process took about three hours out of my morning yesterday folks. Not any time to update my Facebook Scrabble games.
I had lunch and checked the mail. Oh no, another bill just came in. This one from the hospital for Bill's hospital stay.
With much trepidation I opened the envelope containing the bill. Guess how much his hospital stay was?
No breakdown, just that figure.
Bill does have Medicare Part A, which covers his hospital stay, but not all of it.
The rest of the Bill said total payments of $17,929.07 were made.
Medicare payment: $2,952.19
Sequestration Red: 60.25
Medicare discount: 14,916.63
Balance due: $ 1,288.00
I called the hospital billing department. I informed them to send the bill to the VA (as per my previous instructions from the VA billing office). She told me "The VA doesn't pay secondary billing."
Well, I have to admit that makes sense. They VA paid Bill's emergency room visit because he has no other coverage. That was one of the requirement he had to meet. But he does have coverage on his hospital stay from Medicare Part A. First time he's used it by the way in twenty three years. He was eligible when he was sixty-five and now he's eighty-eight.
So we're on the hook for the $1,288.00 which I actually don't consider that bad in the overall picture of the expenses incurred for Bill's emergency.
Now here is my question folks. What would Bill have done handling these bills and all the necessary phone calls if he had to do it himself? What does any older person do, especially a vet? I am so thankful I am here to do this for Bill (and for me because I care so much for Bill).
Our medical system is a disgrace, that most of you know. We are the only industrialized country in the world who doesn't provide medical coverage for all its citizens. And now the Republicans in Congress, drunk and crazy with power, "first order of business" is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, thus taking away health care coverage for over twenty-million people.
We're going to have an infantile, thin-skinned, ego driven, psychotic for president and a Republican dominated Congress intent on rolling back the social safety net. A president who is more concerned with Arnold Schwarzenegger's ratings on the new "Celebrity Apprentice" than he is with the Russian interference (hacking of e-mails) in our election.
|Donald Trump - incapable of embarrassment|
I fear for you, I fear for me and Bill and I fear for this country.
I was able to resolve several bills yesterday but what about those folks in Kentucky who are going to lose their black lung coverage insurance? Those Trump voters who bought the con that Trump sold them?
I'm stopping myself now folks before I go off on another tangent complaining about the results of this election. Me complaining us about as useful as pissing in the wind, it won't make any difference and only succeed in getting piss all over myself.
I hope any of you who have to traverse our medical system have an easier time than what we're going through now. Thank God I'm here to do it for Bill. I just hope if and when I'm his age someone is around for me. Maybe I'll be lucky and just pass quietly in my sleep one night, pain free and not dependent on anyone. Go out with dignity I say. That's my goal.
|This is the form I prefer when I ascend to Heaven, thank you|