Thanks to Jen, over at “Sips of Jen and Tonic” (if you haven’t sipped some Jen, you’re missing out — go there NOW!), I’ve recently begun to examine my maniacal responses to people and situations that waste my time. Jen suggests therapy might be the answer to this lifelong problem. She may be right, but, for now, — until I find a therapist who won’t waste my time — I’ll just write about it.
I had a situation last week in which I made what I thought was a simple request — I needed to obtain an itemized bill from my doctor’s office in order for the company which administers our Flexible Spending Account NOT to “cut us off”. I will not even get into why I need to jump through hoops to spend my own money. I won’t even make a phone call to this company to ask them why they cannot track where and how THEIR card is being used — like, at the doctor’s office for, like, doctor-y things — or why they don’t program the little machine to require a dx code or whatever it is they need to streamline this process for the consumer — the consumer whose money THEY are holding. I won’t even go THERE. Exercises in futility are just a waste of time and energy.
The point is, I need an itemized bill. I ALWAYS need an itemized bill when I use my FSA card to pay the co-pay. I ALWAYS request said bill when I am standing in front of the receptionist — so as not to have to waste my time making phone calls after the fact! Almost always, my eye doctor being the single exception, I am told that they have to mail one to me, that their billing is not done in-office. Okay. Fine.
Every other doctor’s office that I, or my family members, frequent seem to understand that we NEED the itemized bill mailed (or given) to us. Usually, we receive said bill within a few days of the visit. We then, like good little soldiers, submit it to the FSA company. Annoying, but fairly simple.
Every other doctor’s office is understanding of our need for such a thing — in fact, none of them seem surprised or stymied by this seemingly straightforward request. In addition, they are all compliant about providing such. Except for this one.
At both of my in-person visits I requested an itemized bill. I was given a little paper receipt from the little machine. I explained that this was not sufficient, that my FSA company required something a little more “official” than a piece of thermal paper that said “$40” on it — a shred of thermal paper that did not even have an address or a company name on it, by the way. I informed them TWICE that this would not fly. I was told that they would request that a bill be sent to me by their billing company. Okay.
Several weeks went by without my receiving an itemized bill. Several emails were sent to my husband — of a threatening nature — by the FSA company demanding itemized bills. The consequences for not providing them? Our FSA would be put “on hold”.
My husband and daughter use the FSA to pay for their very expensive medications. They do this monthly. If the FSA card does not go through at the drug store, we have to pay for the purchases out of our regular account. I did this once. I’ll never do it again. Because to get reimbursed from the FSA AFTER THE FACT is time-consuming and ridiculous. I only did it the one time because the system was down and my daughter waited until the last minute to refill her acne medication. (Of course she did!) I had no choice that time, but I learned my lesson. Let me repeat, I’ll never do it again.
So, I called the doctor’s office and requested that they expedite the process by which I could receive an itemized bill — I assumed that it wasn’t going to come banged out on a rock, but printed from a computer on paper. I asked nicely. I was polite. I explained the situation. They gave me shit. THEY GAVE ME SHIT!
The woman on the other end of the phone, let’s call her Ursula (because that’s what my sister calls this particular “sea-witch”!), claimed to “not understand” why I needed an itemized bill. Ursula, in typical sea-witch fashion, was beginning to cop a bit of an attitude. I, in my usual patient manner, was beginning NOT to like her tone.
Ursula asserted that she had “never heard of such a thing, before” — by this, she meant the necessity of the itemized bill. My interest in what she had or had not ever heard of before was flagging. Although how someone could work in a doctor’s office and have never been asked for something as simple as an itemized bill sounded like a fish story to me. And, as the conversation progressed, I may have mentioned this. I sensed that Ursula was beginning not to like MY tone. Whatever.
Time, my time, was ticking away.
What I was about to say, before she finally relented, adjusted her attitude, and agreed that she would send the bill, was that I just could “not understand” what all the fuss was about. Listen, I get it, her job is difficult, what with all the requests for appointments that she has to attend to, the filing and pulling of charts, the chit-chatting with co-workers, and the siccing of electric eels on unsuspecting mermaids that take up a large portion of her day. I know these things are difficult, particularly when they are accomplished from a chair behind a desk. I know.
Still, I resented the amount of my time I had wasted on this process. I really did. Still do, in fact. Perhaps Jen is on to something. Perhaps I need to seek professional help for my little “problem”!