Lost in the Labrynth

A noble experiment, the existence of “patient advocates” within the insurance bureaucracy, and an existential crisis fomented by an impending birthday.

Another birthday is coming up and I am gritting my teeth. Last year the universe chipped in to take a good friend of mine as well as my sweet puppy. Rest in peace Dan and Archibald. It’s nice to imagine the two of you playing together, and while I don’t think you met, I’m certain you would have been fast friends. Painful memories on an overcast, slightly drizzly mid-morning here in Los Molinos.

What am I doing with my life? On the best days I feel like maybe I’m making a tiny little positive impact on my community and on the world around me. On most days I’m hunkering down and gripping, terrorized by the immensity and impartiality of it all. On the worst days I recognize myself for the parasite that I am—needing, consuming, taking, taking, taking… Someday I’ll be dust; I suppose my energy will be released to spin blindly. Hopefully I leave behind a few good memories, only to have them fade away over time.

A Noble Experiment

On a more important note, is it going to cause me any permanent damage if I glue plastic googly eyes onto my head with rubber cement? It’s rhetorical, by the time you read this I will already know the answer to this question. If I am able to, I will report back.

Patient Advocacy

Hey, now here is something of genuine value for some: Trish and I have been struggling with our insurance provider for several months now in an effort to find a surgeon who can both perform a specific procedure, and with whom our insurance provider will work. I can’t even begin to tally the number of hours I’ve spent calling our insurance company and sorting through lists of provided names, to no avail. The system is painfully tedious, and in spite of the President’s touting of greater technology being used to increase efficiency within the medical system, so far as I can tell we are not even close to there yet.

After running down yet another dead-end lead provided by our insurer, we were finally made aware of the existence of “patient advocates.” A patient advocate is someone within the insurance bureaucracy who understands how to navigate the system’s inherent complexities, and the insurance providers are mandated by law to provide you with one if you should need their services. Nobody at the insurance company seems to be in a great rush to provide patients with this information. Anyway, after learning of their existence, we got a hold of a wonderful patient advocate, and she managed to slice through the red tape we’d been struggling with for months in a matter of two days. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please be aware of and take advantage of this invaluable resource.

I know for many of you that probably isn’t the most interesting bit of information you’ll read today, but man if you find yourself lost in the insurance company labyrinth it can be a genuine game-changer.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.