On Friday afternoon, I found a message from my insurance company on my answering machine. Thus far, we’ve had no problems with them. In fact, we’ve never had a problem with our health insurance. But, knowing that I’m facing major surgery, coming home and finding a message from them sent a chill down my spine. The message simply said, “Mrs. V-, this is ____ with _____. Please call me back as soon as possible at 1-866-xxx-xxxx extenstion xxxxxxx.” So, I called the number back. It rang a few times then sent me to voice mail. I left a terse voice mail and waiting for a call back.
The return call came quickly…within 20 minutes of my call. I answered the phone and found out the caller is an RN who told me she’s been assigned to my case for my upcoming surgery, her call was to check on my physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and she needed to ask me some questions.
I had no desire to talk to this stranger about my well-being…any part of it. As far as I was concerned, it was none of her business. It is none of her business. She assured me that her questions and my responses are protected by HIPAA, and she told me she was not in anyway associated with billing or claims, but you know what? When I hear you work for my health insurance company, I’m immediately suspicious of your motivations.
Her first question was: Do you have any health concerns I should know about?
My internal response: You have my medical file open on your computer, what do you think my health concerns are? I have breast cancer. I’m 37. I have 2 kids. I have a husband. I have legion of extended family, but no, I don’t have any health concerns you should know about.
My actual response: Well…I have breast cancer.
She laughed and made some joke, but by that point, I was already WAY over this phone call. I didn’t have the best Friday ever. I woke up annoyed by everything. That feeling did not dissipate at all throughout the day. This inane phone call spiked my annoyance level to the red zone.
She then asked me about my family history (there is none), how tall I am (short), how much I weight (NOPE!), what medications I’m on (a lot), how I recovered from my mastectomy…
When she asked that, I kind of lost it. I said, “I’m sorry, but I haven’t had my mastectomy yet, and I really don’t understand why I have to answer all these questions that you obviously have the answers to since when you asked me what medications I’m on and I forgot to mention Xanax because I haven’t taken it in awhile, you asked me if I still take it.”
She told me the questions were standard, she misread her screen and thought my upcoming surgery was for reconstruction, and while she did have the answers to most, there was a chance her information could be out of date. Yeah, like thinking I’ve already had a mastectomy because the paperwork was put through in October.
I answered the rest of her questions. I just wanted off the phone with her, and I figured the best way to get her off the phone was to just answer, but the kicker came at the end of the called.
“Now, you’ve told me your surgery is Feb. 3, so I’ll call you again to check on you while you’re in the hospital probably on the 4th or the day after. Then, I’ll call you again about a week later when you’re home to check on your recovery. Do you have any help lined up for your recovery?”
My internal response: No, don’t call me after surgery. No, don’t call me when I get home. No, none of this is your business. I don’t know you. I don’t want your help.
My actual response: Ummm…ok, and yes, I have help lined up.
She ended the call by reminding me there’s a 24 hour nurse line, and once I get home, if I have questions about my surgery, I should call her or the 24 hour line.
Nope…nope…NOPE. I don’t know you. I don’t want to call you. I have four nurses I’ve dealt with for the last six months who have been amazing, three doctors who have been amazing, friends who have been here, done this. I’m NOT calling you. I’m calling the nurses, doctors, and friends. I have a connection with them. I have none with you.
I realize she’s only doing her job, but no. Just no. I’m not your patient. You don’t care about me. Not really. I’m a case number…a statistic…I’m someone you have to call. I’m someone you have to check in with because you work for my insurance company and apparently, this is a thing.
I want help. I really do, but I want it from people who care about me, who know me and my family, who have a vested interest in me and my health because we have a connection, and I’m sorry (not sorry), but I don’t believe this call had anything to do with concern for me, but instead, it was something else for someone else to check off a list.