Wednesday, July 21, 2010

the fourth person of the Trinity

I have never been good with details. Ask anyone you want who knows me a whit and they will say something like "well, Jim triiies to be responsible, but you know how he is."

How I am is that I'm no good with details and the stuff that makes the world go 'round and keeps the wolves from the door. For example: I write about 3 checks a year. Most of the money that goes into the checking account comes from me...but I don't write checks. I don't 'do' money. Bern does that all for me and I do other significant and important things for her, like...oh, for example, ponder the meaning of life....

Bern would be in the poor house and I would be in prison if I tried to 'do money'. Well, you know how Jim is....he means well, but Christ Almighty he's pretty useless in practical ways.

Bern asked me to open a new roll of Saran Wrap and cover something with it this afternoon. I was so excited since I can't be relied upon to achieve practical tasks: I don't do any yard work because I can't mow right and I don't help clean the house because I'm inept at it.

So, I start to open the new box of plastic wrap and really have trouble and cut my thumb on the little teeth that cut the wrap and bleed all over our downstairs bathroom and have to ask Bern to put the band-aid on because I ruined two trying to do it myself...On and on it goes like that. I am not to be trusted to do normal tasks. But if you want someone to ponder something for you, I'm your guy....Really. Call me up about that....

I'm not much trusted with credit cards and I shouldn't be trusted with insurance cards either.

The Diocese changed insurance coverage beginning in Jan of '10. People under the coverage (like 'under the covers'...ponder that...) were supposed to sign up on line. There was a choice between an HMO type coverage and a POS (Point of Service) coverage. I meant to sign up for POS since my urologist (how important a role is that?) who did my cancer surgery and has been following me the five years since, didn't seem to be in the HMO network. But remember, I had to do this 'online' and another thing I am not to be trusted to do is accomplish what is needed to seal the deal of anything on a computer.

So, I get my new Cigna card. Do I examine it and see if there are any problems like the letter that accompanies the card says to do? Well, I meant to, but I just put the card in my wallet and started pulling it out whenever medical issues came up.

About a month ago, I get a bill from Dr. Olsen, my GP. Cigna has denied two visits to his pleasant little offices in Cheshire because he is not my "Primary Care Physician". Yikes! Did I need one of those? So I pull out my card and discover my PCP is a Dr. William Schreiber, who I've never heard of though I'm sure he's a fine doctor and my Cigna card says, clearly only a chipmunk would have missed it: "Network"....Oh my Lord, I'm HMO in spite of my best intentions and Dr. S., my urologist who has had me have exotic blood tests and a bone scan and a cat scan isn't in the 'network'. I'm trying to imagine how much money that would be to pay those bills without insurance....Well, the next day I get a bill from a blood lab for almost $3000, so the adventure is about to begin.

I call the Diocese, frantic and hyperventilating, and Louise gives me the phone # of a certain Ms. L.S. at the Episcopal Medical Trust. I call her and give her a confusing story about how I meant to be POS but I'm HMO and my PCP is wrong and I'm a wreck and hopeless. She says she'll fix the PCP problem and Dr. Olsen will get paid, not to worry.

The next day I get a bill from Dr. Miller, who did a colonostomy for me and had me do blood tests and a cat scan and Cigna had turned him down because he didn't have a proper 'referral'. Well, I know Dr. Olsen sent a referral to Dr. Miller but since Cigna thought William Schreiber should have sent that referral, I am up the creek without a paddle...and the creek's name is S***. (A tad ironic for a colon0stomy Dr...S*** Creek, I mean....)

Now I am thinking in terms of 80 or 100 thousand much do scans and colonostomy and all that stuff--plus lots of pre-butt search blood work....Oh Lordy, I just retired and I'm going to prison and Bern will be in the Poor House....

I kept hovering around the front door for a week or more, waiting to intercept any more medical cost bad news before Bern got it in the mail. I was frantic....I'm almost never 'frantic' or even mildly concerned about money. I don't DO money, so 'what, me worry?'

I couldn't sleep for a week or so and was a crazy person in ways far beyond the ways I'm usually crazy. I finally told Bern about my worries and she started to worry but I told her I would handle it. She looked at me like I had said, "I'm going to levitate for a couple of house and lay some eggs while I'm doing that."

But, here's the thing: Don't mess with the Episcopal Medical Trust! The Episcopal Church may be an irrelevant as shoe horns and rotary phones, but the Church Pension Fund is not to be trafficked with and the Medical Trust is part of that and LS, my contact, is the fourth person of the Trinity.

(The Church Pension Fund claims--and who am I to doubt it--that they have the assets to pay the earned pensions of every Episcopal priest, bishops and lay folks in the Fund if they all stopped working tomorrow! Go figure--the economy is going to hell in a dozen ways and the CPF is beyond reproach. The CPF keeps trying to find ways to give $ away. Like I'm getting a $20,000 'relocation allowance' with my first pension payment on August 1. And I'm not relocating!!! Go figure...After all, J. P. Morgan started the damn thing....)

So, in ways I cannot imagine LS is going to 'tell' Cigna to pay all my bills. Dr. Miller IS in the HMO so that's not the problem...but every test, scan, etc., Dr. S. ordered will be paid because LS and the Medical Trust and the CPF tells them too....Astonishing.

I'm sure I screwed this up, ultimately. I don't even know how, but ignorance is no excuse. And LS, the 4th person of the Trinity, and the vast resources of that irrelevant institution known as the Episcopal Church is going to make it right. I can even see Dr. S for the rest of the year and the Medical Trust will tell Cigna to pay him. "Tell them", mind you...astonishing.

I am such an idiot.

A friend once told me, "it's a good thing you're 'charming' and seemingly clueless or someone would have killed you long before now."

That's true.

Even I don't think I deserve the 'grace'--and I mean that in its full theological meaning--of this experience.

But that's the joke, isn't it? None of us DESERVE the "Grace". We just get it....Astonishing. Amazing.....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.