Tag Archive for insurance

Nothing to See Here: A Medical Misadventure

So now that I’ve twittered my trip to the doctor yesterday and generated a flood of “are you okay?” emails, I guess I better get you all caught up on the latest news. Or lack thereof, anyway…

I’ve had this pain in my chest lately. It’s nothing like heart attack symptoms (squeezing, spreading to arm/jaw, shortness of breath, etc.), it’s more like a stitch in the side but occurring behind the ribs just beneath my left pectoral muscle. It occurs for a couple minutes at a time and has appeared off and on all week, so I called my doctor’s office. When I answered yes to the travel question and said I was on an eight-hour flight last month, the computer said maybe it’s a blood clot and to get my ass to an ER.

I didn’t buy it, but when the nurse says go, you pretty much have to go. I went to an urgent care center instead, thinking I’d get through faster than the big ER in Peoria, and the nurse said it’s my call but they’d just send me on to the hospital anyway if it was serious. I opted to stick with short and sweet.

A couple hours of shenanigans ensued, most of which I posted to Twitter. For example, I experienced medical bureaucracy, tried to resist the call of the defibrillator, and then my phone fooled them by imitating their machine that goes “ping.”

Kind of like this, minus the baby. (But wouldn’t that have been a surprise!)

They did an EKG and an x-ray, then the doctor came in and poked and prodded. In the end he just shrugged and shuffled me out the door. They ordered some fancy-sounding tests I’ll need to undergo just to be sure there’s not some other problem with my pump, but the pain wasn’t a heart attack or blood clot.

As expected, I was in and out. The nurses and the doctor were great, but it’s a pity they’re burdened by such a bloated system of bureaucracy. I also can’t wait to get the bills for all this, because my insurance sucks. Between my employer and I, they already get about $15K a year in premiums for my family, and I still have to cough up another couple grand in deductibles before they’ll cover anything.

You would think I’d have a sense of relief now, but not really. I don’t have that feeling of cheating death, nor do I feel like I’ve been given a second chance. Instead I feel like a hypochondriac with a hemorrhage in the wallet. With luck the upcoming tests will also be negative, but for the moment all I’ve done is piss away a Friday night.

The tests next week are a treadmill stress test with nuclear medicine, and what appears to be another cardio exam of some kind, also with nuclear medicine. Looking at the bright side, I guess it will be a day off work during which I get to entertain you all on Twitter again, assuming they don’t take my phone away. The paperwork says the test will take 3-5 hours, so I’m hoping they’ll let me have my notebook or iPad so I can at least get some writing-related work done. I’m way behind on the sequel to The Pack: Winter Kill, and I have to work on a few short stories that should already have been completed, too.

Just pray they don’t take all my toys away. When I get bored and fidgety, I start getting in trouble.

Is it possible to get banned from a hospital?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Insurance Exam Advice

I had a life insurance exam on Tuesday. The nurse came out to my house to do her measurements and collect blood and urine, and it wasn’t quite the experience I expected. As such, I thought I’d share a few tips for those of you who may face one of these exams yourself in the near future.

1) First of all, the nurse will not look anything like this:

Helloooooo, nurse!

Helloooooo, nurse!

Any dreams and desires that enter your head, just squash ’em right now. Chances are you’re getting a charging rhinoceros.

And thank God, Buddha, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whatever it is you hold dear that she isn’t required to watch you pee.

Which segues into…

2) Seriously, don’t drink a lot of water. I woke up at 6:30am and emptied the tank, then commenced drinking water so I’d be ready for the nurse at 8:00. I lost track of how many glasses I drank, but my belly was full by the time she showed up. Turns out she only needed about an ounce. She poured what she needed into two little test tubes and I spent the rest of the morning visiting the can more often than an old man with a prostate the size of a grapefruit.

3) She’s not going to look anything like this, either:

Dream on

Dream on, fella.

I can’t stress this enough.

4) The nurse will make small talk, but she is clearly in charge. The conversation will go like this: “Got kids? Awesome, me too. Stand up. Take a deep breath. Stand on this scale. No pets, huh? Oh, a cat? Cats suck. Sit down. Give me your arm. This is gonna hurt.”

And so on.

I suggest you don’t make her angry.

Rhinos charge when they’re angry.

5) They usually don’t have to take your temperature, but I suggest a few offerings to the deities that it stays that way, because we all know what the most accurate method for obtaining a human body’s temperature is, and that will only end in tears when it happens at your own kitchen table and there’s a perfect stranger on the giving end of the thermometer.


I... I need to go lie down now.

I... I need to go lie down now.

7) You’re going to bleed. Can’t stand the sight of your own blood? Wear a blindfold. When I had an exam five years back, the nurse jabbed the needle straight into the tendon at the base of my biceps. This time around? I bled like a stuck pig and the bruise is still fading four days later.

8) The nurse will make herself at home. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not going to raid your fridge (as long as you don’t turn your back), but she’s used to visiting several homes and offices every day. To her they’re just another building, and she will come right in and find the nearest available surface upon which to set up shop unless you have your cattle prod charged and ready.

9) Don’t look her in the eye. That’s a sign of aggression.

10) Say hello to your nurse:



I survived, and hopefully with the help of these tips, you’ll survive your exam, too.

And now my corpse is worth about five times what my living, breathing, (mostly) ambulatory body is worth.

Don’t tell my wife.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Insurance Scam

I understand arguments on both sides of national health care, but when you see a lot of the instances of insurance companies abusing their own systems, it’s not hard to see why people are fed up with the current system and are pushing for the government to do something about it.

Check out this post on The Daily Kos. If you don’t feel like surfing, the gist of it is Blue Shield told him they’d pay a claim, then spent seven months assuring him they’d pay, and in the end refused to pay anyway. And to put a little more force into the nutshot, Blue Shield told the anesthesiologist behind the claim that they paid the patient (Kos) and the anesthesiologist needed to collect from him. Kos, of course, never received a check.

It’s a travesty what companies decide to pay and not pay. The guy’s paying $800/month in premiums, and Blue Shield is fighting him over $632. I think it’s just as bad for the doctors; the anesthesiologist is short that money and is getting the same runaround from Blue Shield, and the insurance company bean counters come up with their own pricing for procedures. Not to mention the times insurance suits make decisions on whether a patient should or should not have a procedure based not on the patient’s health but on the cost of the procedure.

The problem I’m dealing with now is an increase in premiums. Our group is fairly small, and we’ve had some major problems hit our staff in the past two years. As a result, our insurance premiums are going up 62%. The insurance agent says that’s the worst news he’s had to deliver in his several decades in the business.

I crunched the numbers on my pay stub and learned I’ll be coughing up another $100. That was bad enough, but as I showed my wife the figures it dawned on me I get two of those stubs a month, so I’m actually looking at an increase of $200/month.

That’s almost my car payment. It also means I may take a pay cut on my net paycheck compared to last year; my raise this summer came to around $60 a paycheck. The insurance agent is shopping around for other options, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

If the increase goes through, this will be the second time I’ve had this happen. My employer the first time didn’t much care, and he refused to talk about alternatives. Hopefully things will go better this time.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.