Friday, August 07, 2009

Ticking Time Bombs

**This post updated to include links to the audio of the interviews... just scroll down***

They're all over the country. Ticking time bombs ready to go off and cause great harm to those who possess them. People like me.

I told you the story a couple of weeks ago how my daughter's insurance company informed me that they had canceled her policy on Dec. 31, but never bothered to tell me. They kept sending me bills, so I figured it was OK that I had gotten a bit behind in my payments. In March, I sent a $300 check to bring us almost current, and in June, another $300.

It was only then, when I got a letter from the insurance company saying the check had the wrong account number, so they couldn't credit it to my account, that I got my first hint that something was wrong.

After spending a couple of hours on the phone with the brain surgeons who work for Vista Healthcare (oh, that's right, they're not doctors deciding who gets treatment and who doesn't... I forgot), they finally told me that the reason they couldn't find the account was because it had been terminated at the end of December!

"Then why," I asked her, "did you continue sending me invoices, and why did you cash my check in March? And why, after cashing the check in March, did the invoices continue to come? And why was I never told that the policy was canceled?"

I never did get a real answer. And I'm still waiting for my $600 back.

Six hundred dollars, by the way, that would have come in very handy today, when my ticking time bomb went off. Thankfully, it was only a stink bomb this time.

My 10-year old daughter Alison attends a very cool nature camp. They were on a big canoe trip today, when her canoe got stuck. So, Alison jumped out to push the vessel, and fell backward, putting out her hand to break her fall. Unfortunately, her hand came down on a sharp oyster bed, and got cut pretty badly, along with her left leg.

The cut on her hand was deep, and when they got back to camp, I got a call telling me she'd likely need stitches. I picked her up, and off we went to the emergency room.

Lucky for me, the doctor was afraid of the bacteria from the oysters, so decided against stitching the wound. A Betadine soak, bandages and one tetanus shot later, we went to check out.

Bracing myself for the worst, I was surprised to find that Memorial Regional Hospital has a "flat rate" for those without insurance. A discounted ER fee, if you pay within 10 days, and no more bills coming your way.

Yes, I got lucky today. We walked away with only a $300 charge on my credit card, and the dreaded advice to follow up with her primary care physician on Monday or Tuesday. Do you think I'll be able to get her enrolled in SCHIP by then?

Me neither...

Tonight on Air America radio (11pm-1am ET), I'll speak with an America ex-pat living in Paris about their health care. France is rated the world's best, so we'll ask Beth Arnold to compare the two systems for us. Beth writes the Letter from Paris blog for Huffington Post, and on her own page at **Listen to our conversation here**

I'll share with you my question during yesterday's health care conference call with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. And I'll be joined by Democracy for America Miami president Franco Caliz, who'll tell us about a peaceful protest they waged today at Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart's office. (He wrote about it today on Daily Kos, in a piece entitled "Memo to the right wing nutjobs: This is how you fight")

And in the first hour, my interview with Ric O'Barry, the man who started the dolphin craze and now does everything he can to stop what he started! O'Barry was the guy who captured and trained the dolphins for the Flipper tv show. He's also, along with the dolphins he's trying to save, the subject of the powerful film The Cove, that opens today nationwide. He'd like you to visit and, after seeing the film, so would I.
***Listen to our interview here***

Listen live from 11pm-1am by clicking here, call in at 866-303-2270, and join in the live chat here!