Institutional Insanity

Today, I want to vent about a few of my least favorite institutions. Perhaps I should begin this blog by saying I have some very close friends who are doctors. I have even invested with one or two of them. I sometimes find it difficult to explain to them that the purpose of an investment is to make money rather than to harvest tax loses. I can do a good enough job of that on my own. However, that problem was corrected when Martha told me that if I ever went into another partnership that she would divorce me. I do not believe that I am genetically designed to be in a partnership. As much as I love my doctor friends, I also struggle with the fact that my time and their time is not the same. God left me out completely in the patience department. I never believe in making a customer wait for anything, but that is not the case in most doctor’s offices. But, what are you going to do? Get mad and walk out which is something that Martha has kept me from doing on numerous occasions. In spite of that, I do love my doctor friends who take care of me, and I seem to be seeing at least one of them weekly.


Now, that introduction leads me right into two of my least favorite institutions that are indirectly related to doctors although they have no control over them. Those two are hospitals and Medicare. Let’s take hospitals first. The amount of questions and forms that they require you to fill out would sink a battleship, and some of them are just plain ludicrous. Once when I was having a hemorrhoidectomy, I was asked if I would be willing to donate the organ being removed. My response to that question was, “By all means, please feel free to attach these things to any idiot who enjoys suffering.” Once they got me back into OR for the procedure, I could hear what sounded like a whet rock sharpening knives. I commented to my surgeon buddy that they were waiting very late to do this. He looked at me and said, “Cader, you should be much more relaxed than this with your pre-op shot.” I immediately said, “Stop the press, and get me out of these stirrups because I have not had a pre-op shot.” He tried to assure me that I had, but I knew better. I made them get my chart, and I was correct. At that time, I was beginning to have some serious reservations about this operation on my nether region. Besides that, this surgeon never could catch a pass that I threw to him in college. He assured me that he had developed better hands now.


On Monday of this week, I had to have eye surgery in Dothan, Alabama. I went to at least four different rooms, and each time they asked me what I was there for. Now, please know that I had a black mark over my left eye, and had already told the nurses and anesthesiologist what I was there for. By the fourth room, I could only conclude that the staff was very slow witted, or that they were checking me for dementia. I actually do understand the reason for this, but it gets old after a while. The surgery was successful, praise the Lord.


Now, on to Medicare. Once Martha and I decided to go on Medicare, the smartest thing that I ever did was hire a Medicare consultant to teach me the ropes, and how to read the EOB’s. Martha and I both have an A, B, and F Supplemental policy. If all of your EOB’s say that the maximum you may owe is zero dollars, then that is all you owe. Imagine my surprise one day when I got four letters from a collection agency stating that I had been turned over to them for non-payment of hospital bills. I called the hospital and kept asking for the next level of direct report until I got to the top. I told the lady that I was demanding a forensic audit of my account. I said, “Lady, I serve on two boards where bad credit will cause me to have to answer to the SEC, and I ain’t talking about the Southeastern Conference here.” She assured me that they would do this. As it turned out, not only did I not owe them any money, but they owed me $72. I told her to keep the money, but write me a letter for my files stating that I had been turned over to a collection agency in error, which I now have in my Medicare files. Most hospitals problems have sophisticated billing systems, but the folks who are inputting data are less than sophisticated, and that is stating it mildly.


Now, on to my last and least favorite institution, the IRS. I am convinced that my beloved bookkeeper of over 40 years retired because she just got tired of dealing with incompetent dummies at the IRS. On one occasion due to a transposition error, we over paid our FICA withholding. We began receiving threatening letters about correcting our mistake. Janie tried for six months to explain that we had no mechanism to get our money back. When we received a final letter stating that they intended to file a lien against us in our local paper, I decided to take the matter out of Janie’s hands. I called the IRS. Every time someone would answer, I would ask for their direct report. I went through six people before reaching the lady who told me that everyone reported to her. I then explained the problem and said, “Lady, I know of only one way for us to rectify this problem on our end. I can fly to Washington with my shotgun, and rob the IRS of $23,000.” She quickly agreed that this was ridiculous, and that she would get it corrected, and she did. But we have to deal with some kind of insanity from them almost monthly because THEIR records are wrong, and it takes hours to make these rocket scientists understand.


That concludes my rant for the day. While it may not make you feel any better, I now feel a heck of a lot better!