Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is why we're poor:

Mirus and I spent the morning making phone calls to people who insist that we owe them money. Here is a summary of the phone calls.

Birth Center: They forgot to bill me for a urine sample, they sent the bill, I got it yesterday. It's due tomorrow. I called to let them know the check is coming, because I actually do owe them. A whopping $15. No biggie.

OB/GYN: These geniuses apparently keep no record of the statements they send out (yeah right) so the person handling my account has no idea what my bill says or why it says what I say it does. Fantastic. This is a bill from JANUARY. Why is it not settled? Because everytime I call them, I'm told that this person is going to do something, and that I should wait at least 30 days before calling back. Then, they send me a bill with a late fee. Today's fun involved the employee telling me that the last time we spoke, I was going to call the insurance company and find out that she should bill my claim under my maiden name. I asked how she knew what I was going to find out if I hadn't yet made the call? She explained that she just typed into the notes what I said. Me:"Sure, OK. Well, why don't you try billing the claim under my maiden name." Her:"OK, I'll do that now. . . bitch."

The Lab: Somehow I'm getting bills from a lab and the OB/GYN for the same visit, in the exact same amount. Only one of these was ever submitted to the insurance company (I think). I think that this one has since been taken care of, but I'm skeptical that it is even a valid claim. At this point I don't care, I just wish someone would answer the phone so I could find out if it's been handled.

Insurance Company: They are a train wreck. I have not yet had a phone call with them that went well. I usually start with: "I'm going to warn you that I'm pregnant, hungry, and very upset. I want to resolve this issue TODAY and if you don't have the authority to do that, I'd like to be transferred to someone who can." Invariably I am transferred to a manager before they have even asked for my name. Perfect. Today no one answered. 3 minutes into the call no one had answered. This is not the first time this has happened. They apparently changed my name back to my maiden name (um, what??). So none of my bills are being covered because they're being submitted under my married name. Trouble is, when I call the insurance company they have no record of anything being submitted for me. So they never know what's going on, because they are idiots.

Comcast: When we cancelled our service, the person on the phone told Mirus that we owned the modem and didn't need to return it. As this was not our first dealing with them, we were skeptical and Mirus asked THREE times if the person was SURE we didn't need to return it. The employee emphatically replied that it was ours and we could do with it as we wished, our account was fully closed and we should have a good trip and a safe move. Now, they insist we owe them for the modem and WILL NOT transfer Mirus to a manager when he calls. They tell him to wait for an employee to call him, which they never do. Bah.

T-Mobile: They have no service in AK, so although I've always had great service with them and gotten excellent customer service we had to cancel our account before we moved. To avoid cancellation fees, I called to find out what they needed from me. They gave me a fax number (which I 'safely' packed away and have yet to find) and told me to send a copy of a utility bill at our new address. I explained that it would be several weeks before we moved, found a place, set up our utilities, and recieved a bill. The employee said that was common and shouldn't be a problem. The day we moved into our apt I had a stroke of genius. We had to open our account in person, so I asked the electric company employee to print something with my name and new address and the electric company's name on it. She gave me a copy of something or other, and when I called TMobile to get the fax number again, they had changed their system. I now have to mail it to New Mexico. It took 10 days for our car payment to get to Texas from Denver. It could take months for this letter to get from Alaska to New Mexico! In the meantime, they automatically deducted cancellation fees for both phones (though it was one contract) and we're just sitting pretty waiting for our reimbursement of that nearly $500 trouble.

Old Landlords: We haven't yet called them because we have misplaced their number. This is what a 3500 mile move will get you: lost. I may have to call my new landlord and get the phone number for my old landlord from our application. Lame. We had the cost of the mailbox key deducted from our depost (which we finally got! yay!). Sometime between the building being built in the twenties and now the mailbox lock broke, and in the intervening 80 years the key has been lost. I wasn't even aware there were keys and thought it vaguely odd that the mailboxes had locks for which no one seemed to have keys. I'm not paying for the key that may or may not have been lost before I was born. Anyway, that's only $10.

The list goes on and on. Most of this stuff I just didn't see coming. We had prepared to have a baby, saved money, found out exactly what our health insurance covered and didn't, and I even changed jobs because I found one that gave me greater flexibility to stay home before and after the birth. We did what we were supposed to.

Then the car was totalled, our insurance company went crazy, and people in billing departments everywhere lost their damn minds. And somehow, our savings was reduced to pennies.

Well, not quite pennies. But certainly not what it once was. And since we have to wait several extra weeks to get any of the reimbursements in the mail, we can't spend the money we do have because we may need it for food. Going from two full time jobs to one part time job while adjusting to a 9% cost of living increase is not easy. Mirus now has a part time job, and the fruits of that labor should start showing up this weekend. And then, with any luck, we can start taking care of the things we need to, like buying a car seat and figuring out what we're going to owe the midwife.

Until then, I'm applying for every government program I can find. This pregnant mama is hungry, and groceries are expensive. I've been paying taxes on my income since I was 14 and it's about damn time I see what I've earned.

Incidentally, I received a letter from the Social Security Administration explaining that I have nearly enough work credits to retire. Should I tell them that it's probably a mistake, or just see how many years it takes for them to catch it??

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