Thursday, November 6, 2008

doing okay, busy at work

As requested, I am indeed doing okay and I am, happily, busy at work.

Unfortunately, I've also been busy at home too trying to make sense of a hiccup in my long-term disability insurance. To the point, eveything is straightened out but I am not getting what I thought I had purchased.

It was sad to cross over from short-term disability way back in February when the six month anniversary passed. The indignity of applying for social security benefits through a subcontracted nagging service was that much worse. They drilled me every few days over the phone and every week or so with paperwork but I just took it on as part of my new "job" of recovering and getting well and vowed to do my best. Fast forward through some rough times and I thought when I was finally well enough to go back to my day job, I would see more money coming into the bank account. What I didn't realize was the benefits would shrink relative to any money I earned.

Checks had been arriving for months now and the new number was predictable. I abided by my contract and reported my part-time earnings and the benefit check didn't change. I thought it might, but when it didn't I figured that was the other half of my paycheck; the other 20 hours a week my doctor has me resisting.

When September passed without a check, I didn't worry too much. By the time my birthday passed two weeks into October and I hadn't received a return call, I did begin to worry. After figuring out CIGNA had chosen to just stop paying for the flimsiest reason they could find, I went from worried to angry.

My case manager vanished. She may have quit or been fired, croaked dead or been abducted by aliens and forced onto a Elvis diet. She just plain disappeared. Her voicemail still works and her email has never bounced leaving me to think she was getting my pay/leave statements just like normal. But she wasn't and therefore CIGNA wasn't. After weeks with no check, I persevered through their ridiculous robo-phone system to get ahold of her boss who promptly denounced the break in communication as my fault giving them every right to stop paying benefits. Pardon my French, but this pissed me off. I wasn't the one whom had stopped talking, they were. To blame me and use it as an excuse to stop paying was just plain stupid.

You may be able to imagine my reaction. ;)

I bled them for information to get my account current but I was totally stunned to learn my adjusted benefit was more than a thousand dollars less. I could not figure out why. I know I can be thick sometimes, but a grand? For weeks I pored over their spreadsheets trying to make heads or tails of their math. I was certain they'd made a mistake because I piad for coverage to make up half my paycheck; half my gross paycheck! Every month I'd not been working, the benefit arrived fine. The month I started working, fine. The second month? Nothing. Got that straightened out and then the check was a fraction of what I was expecting. Feeling sick, routinely crashing, and being reminded of my age weren't helping either. In the end, I prayed for patience and understanding because I needed this to be over with so I could either adjust for the smaller amount, or get my account settled and back onto the check amounts I'd been expecting.

Now don't go thinking we're having budget problems. Far from it. Jody and I immediately scaled back the budget as soon as we found out I was sick because we did not know what this ordeal would cost. Mercifully, the out of pocket expenses haven't been that bad though I now understand the concept of those pre-tax flexible spending accounts. Taxes this year are going to be interesting... and that's without Obama. ;)

However, I cannot ever earn more than 100% of my old pay; what I earned when I got sick. Some months it will be smaller because I bring home weekly paychecks; twice a year there will be months with five while all the others will only be four. It was very bad timing that September was that first month for me coinciding with my old CIGNA rep going Houdini on me. I just didn't realize my coverage isn't actually for the other half of my paycheck if I'm able to work a little.

Honestly. What do people do who are too sick to keep up with these things?

None of this has really helped my stamina either. On the nights I can rest, I am able to wake up nice and early, have Aaron drive me to his school so he gets some drivers education time, punch in half a day in the lab trying to learn the new job, then collapse or completely crash at home. It's compounding the effects of the chemo with, thank God, ends after next week's final round of poison. Only 56 more pills to go starting Sunday... I think I'll cry when the last ones go down.

Please, oh please, let them have done their job. I don't look forward to the sore muscles after another PET scan or the prep for another colonoscopy, but they will be worth it if someone can tell me they don't see anything any more.

Okay maybe I'll cry now too. :(


Jana G said...

I am so glad to hear you are OK, though understandably frustrated. My mom has a ton of experience dealing with nasty insurance organizations. Let me know if you want me to have her get in touch with you. I don't know how people without insurance or without jobs handle this other than declaring bankruptcy.

Chin up though. You are managing well. If you've got enough energy to be angry, you've got enough energy to keep fighting.

Lynn said...

I'm glad you are doing ok.....been thinking about you and have to nag your wife for an update :-) Keep us posted.

I'm sorry you are going through all the insurance BS. Grrrr. What a nightmare!!!

Hang in there - lots of us are supporting you!