23 March 2012

Tightening Our Belts

The past few days have been a blur of haggling with insurance companies, attempting to sell some records and getting by very cheaply. I have been so burnt out on all of this at once that my self medication has been wasting away in front of the computer or television set. Books have been tossed by the wayside (I'm sitting on at LEAST five that I've been meaning to read), and I am not happy about it. I've always been voracious reader. I just haven't had the mental capacity the last couple of days to be productive. I will let my frustration and anger fuel this blog entry today.

I am not a money-driven person, but I loathe the fact that so much of what I have been putting time and effort into lately has been focused on finances. If these circumstances of the sacred dollar were based around, say, saving money for zine publication or obtaining leatherface records or getting tattoos, I'd be stoked. But, so it goes sometimes, it's on the other end of spending (and not spending) money. Getting insurance coverage for an expensive surgery, driving to Best Buy to replace a coffeemaker at eight at night and making inexpensive crockpot meals that give Robin and me meals for days have all been driving forces lately.

As you loyal readers already know, I have been having sinus/nasal problems for over a year now. I was finally diagnosed at the beginning of the year after obtaining health insurance for the first time in years. After my diagnosis of having a deviated septum and chronic swelling of certain sinuses, scheduling surgery was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I drove with Robin by my side through the snow and slush yesterday morning for my pre-op consultation. I was given the specifics of the surgery, what to expect afterwards and prescriptions for healing. Being only a few days from surgery, I wasn't feeling nervous about it. I'm not feeling nervous about it now. I am just ready to be done with this shit.

I am now being pulled back and forth by my insurance company in regards to coverage. I began receiving letters stating denial of coverage because of a "preexisting condition". Their stipulations for such do not apply to me in the least. So, I had to have my primary care doctor send the insurance company a letter stating that he was the first to diagnose my symptoms (which he was). Afterwards, he referred me to a specialist. I saw said specialist and had a camera shoved up my nose. I was then told that coverage was denied because of the notorious "preexisting condition". Exorbitant medical bills started piling up stating that I was responsible for these services and office visits. If you're following along, readers, this specialist was obviously the first doctor to diagnose my problems AND schedule the surgery given the fact I was referred by my primary care doctor \.

I left the office yesterday with a weight lifted from my chest. The paperwork stated that insurance will cover 80%, and I am responsible for the other 20%. The total that I owed was $540. Not bad at all considering I am getting four different procedures done. So, as of today, surgery was scheduled for Tuesday. Upon receiving a phone call from my surgery scheduler this afternoon, she informed me that she had received no word stating insurance would cover the procedures. The paperwork that the insurance needed to void my "preexisting condition" had already been sent through. The numbers on the paperwork I signed yesterday were only valid if the insurance company would cover everything, more of an estimate than actual verification.

Anxious with anger and frustration, I called my insurance company after I left work to figure this shit out. They told me they received all of the necessary paperwork that would void the "preexisting condition", but for total verification as to what they would cover would take 10-15 business days. I had two options: go ahead with the surgery and chance being covered (and possibly getting stuck with a five thousand dollar medical bill) or reschedule. Insurance companies make me fucking sick.

The only option was the latter. Resignedly, I followed up with my surgery scheduler (a truly good human being), and the procedure is now scheduled a month from now. I had to switch everything back to a regular work week, Robin has to now request additional days off and I get to play the waiting game for another month.

In addition to my medical bills coming in, Robin has her own set to deal with. Although both of our insurance plans are exceedingly good, the sheer volume of office visits and tests and procedures still leaves us medical bills in the triple digits. We've been together long enough now where when money is tight for one of us, it's tight for the both of us. So, we adjust our lives accordingly. Going out to bars for dinner and drinks seems a thing of the past lately. Meals are cooked at home for dirt cheap, and beer is bought by the tallboys at the Plaid Pantry. Coffee is bought as cheap as possible without settling for the crappy stuff. We still smoke just as much as ever, but these are our priorities.

In addition to such financial strains, last night our coffeemaker decided to stop working. I didn't take it as bad luck, though, because we caught it in time to replace it for this morning's coffee. Had I woke up expecting my coffee to be brewed only to find the Mr. Coffee on the fritz, I would have been livid. We got dressed and drove down to Best Buy to replace it with an identical one. Feeling like a complete corporate tool, we spent thirty bucks and got two-year replacement coverage. However, a working coffeemaker is a necessity for Robin and me. More important than food, less important than cigarettes. That's the dynamic we thrive on and there's no shame in that.

With the financial strains of life as of late, trying to scrape together extra money has been a driving force as well. We've got a whole lot of records we never listen to and selling them gives us the hope of bringing in extra money. Making crockpot meals has actually been a fun adventure, too. They feed us for days on as little as ten or twenty bucks. I can be creative, try new things and stumble upon some new recipes in the process. Right now, I've got some pinto beans and smoked ham shank cooking. I will be baking some jalapeno, honey and black pepper cornbread to go along with it.

Getting by cheaply includes trips to the library for free movie rentals. We've got a stack of movies, I've got a new Kerouac book to read (pre-On The Road) and typing this long-winded blog entry has been quite cathartic.

I've got errands to run now, readers, but I hope to post more consistently than I have been lately. I plan to continuously fuel myself with what makes me ME. Books, coffee, chain-smoking, cheap beer and even cheaper food.

Take care of each other out there. It's a mean, money-grubbing world. Keep those close to you ever in your care, and you'll in turn receive the same.

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