Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Gifts of God Alone Remain

I say it to my shame:  I still have no medical insurance. Thus I had to reapply recently for financial assistance from the hospital system that did my cancer surgery and chemotherapy.  Today I received a letter from their financial assistance department.  The second paragraph read:

This letter is to inform you that your recent request for financial assistance has been approved for a 100% discount.  This approval applies to your accounts with outstanding balances before 06/02/2011.  The total amount adjusted is $x,xxx.xx.  Please note that this financial assistance approval applies to all N--- Hospitals, N--- Cancer Centers, and/or N--- Physician Services for services which qualify under our policy guidelines.

I read this and I was deeply humbled.  I nearly cried.  100% of my outstanding balances forgiven?  Oh, what a difference that will make, especially with the school year ending and my teaching income coming to an end for three months or more!  It was almost too good to be believed.

Well, maybe it was too good to be believed.  I know good and well my total outstanding balance is more than the amount given.  I went upstairs to my computer and checked for sure.  Yep.  The amount I'm still making payments on is actually 40% higher than the amount given.  Oh.

The last character I want to emulate is the welfare queen who thinks she's entitled to other people's money.  So if there was some reason why "100% of the outstanding balances before 06/02/2011" doesn't mean "100% of the outstanding balances before 06/02/2011," I wanted to know how that would affect any payments I still needed to make.

So I called the "any questions" number.  I was transferred to a nameless someone in the Financial Assistance Department and asked my question, reading out the relevant paragraph in the letter.

At first she said the letter had given only a partial amount "because the rest of it hasn't been billed yet."  But I told her out that pretty much all my outstanding balance is from the surgeries and hospitalizations I'd had in March and April of 2010 (my chemo, barring last week's followup, is paid up and current), so it certainly has all been billed.  She insisted, however, that my balances on "those two accounts" is 0.  Funny, I have three accounts with balances yet to pay  . . .

Nevertheless, I said how grateful I was, considering my circumstances, and what should I do with the statements I've already received for payments on account to be made in June?  I wasn't about to be presumptuous and say, "Oh, good, I guess that means I don't have to make any more payments, right?"  There was still that discrepancy between my figures and theirs.

It was about now that she said, "I need to check something."  I visualized her digging around in some pile of papers, but of course it wouldn't be that, it'd be on her computer.  She gets back to me and says, "I think there's been some confusion.  You already had a 80% discount on the bills you incurred last year.  We can't give you any more discount on that.  This $x,xxx.xx applies only to services since January of 2011."

Oh.  But wait a minute, ma'am.  I've had nowhere near $x,xxx.xx of services since the beginning of the year, and most of that is already paid for.   (Not to mention that my previous 80% discount had extended to mid-March).  But she went on about the forgiveness applying solely to my "Physician Services" bill, including, she said, to an amount "in May" that could only be my last week's post-chemo check up.  That's what was being taken care of.  Yes, nice, but that's not Physician Services, that's Oncology-Hematology.  She wouldn't or couldn't clarify, so I, taking to heart the maxim about not checking the gift horse's mouth, didn't press the matter.  True, I felt rather as if I'd been promised a fine Morgan plow horse and ended up instead with a miniature Shetland pony.  But it's not like I had earned either, right?

So, as I summed up to her, I'll go ahead and pay the statements I have in hand as arranged, and wait for the July bills to see if or where any adjustments have been made.  It really was too good to be true, so it's not like I'm suffering from any big letdown . . . though I have to wonder what the point of the letter was . . . it really looks like I'm in exactly the same situation I was in before . . . and what's going to happen with my future chemo followup bills, which will certainly be incurred after last Thursday?

Guess I'll have to wait and see in the weeks to come.  What's apparent now is what I implied in the title to this post-- Gifts given by man fade, wear out, are consumed, or even are taken away.  Only the eternal gifts of God in Jesus Christ remain.

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