Just ASK

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Why do I have to learn this lesson over and over and over again?

Yesterday I opened the mail to discover a medical bill that made my heart stop, with the notification that my health insurance had not covered the service.  I immediately panicked, start sweating, and tried to decide what crevice to shove the bill under so it would just go away. I thought about how I must have caused this, must have done something wrong. I thought about what lies I could tell to get either the insurance agency or the hospital to have mercy; I thought about how to hide it from my husband since we did just finish taxes after all; I thought about how once again the proverbial “new couch” would be kicked that much further down the future road of things-I-want-to-buy-or-do-but-can’t-because-of-the-life-stuff-that-comes-up-and-always-takes-away-all-my-money. As I thought about all these things, alone in my basement office, I started to develop a very large knot in my stomach and lump in my throat. I shrunk into an anxious, lonely, solitary creature with a future map in her head that was filled with DOOM and GLOOM and DARKNESS.

And then I got the courage up to call the insurance agency and just ask why.

After my long and rambling nervous explanation of what I saw on my bill, the insurance representative laughed and said, “Oh, they billed the wrong company. Have them re-send it to such and such address. It’ll be fine!”

Oh. Alright then.

So then I was buoyant and happy and relieved and confidently called the hospital’s billing department, who promptly informed me that actually they had in fact sent the claim to the proper company at the proper address, thank you very much, and that the insurance company's response had been “services incurred after coverage terminated.” She further told me that they couldn’t just re-submit the claim (my bright and hopeful idea) because it would automatically be rejected as a duplicate.

DOOM and GLOOM returned. And of course now was I not only worried once again about a huge bill but suddenly I wondered if my insurance itself had mysteriously vanished. I thought about conspiracy theories and political mishandlings and incompetent whoevers who had clearly set out to RUIN MY LIFE!

Shuddering once more, I returned to the insurance agency. Speaking to a different representative, I told the ever-lengthening story, and she once again scoured the system and found no evidence of the claim. She asked me to call the hospital again and urge them to re-submit the claim, even though they told me they couldn’t.

I mean, seriously folks.

Now neither dooomy and gloomy nor confident and buoyant, but simply just annoyed to bits and pieces about all things healthcare and also automated phone systems, I went back to the hospital once more, to yet another representative, who told me that the insurance company would have to call them directly for them to re-submit the claim, otherwise there was nothing they could do.


Now neither doomy, gloomy, confident, buoyant, or annoyed, but rather just ready to hang it up and pay the stinking bill just to make the madness stop, just STOP already, I called the insurance company once more. And got Ray. Oh RAY, you ray of light. Ray who said OF COURSE he would be willing to call them and sort it all out, and that OF COURSE he was happy to help and how sorry he was for the confusion. He asked would I mind if he put me on hold for just a few minutes while he called them. Mind? I said I’d write a song about him while I waited.    (Instead I started writing this blog, just sure I’d be getting a happy ending.)

Did I get a happy ending? I don’t quite know yet, but I do know this: My Ray of Light came back after about fifteen minutes on hold to tell me that he got them to agree to re-submit the claim.   I’m pretty sure that whatever the end result will be, it will be better than the bill I stared at today.   And anyway, in the end this isn't about insurance companies, is it?

Why do we work ourselves up, create endings, imagine scenarios? Why do we close ourselves off rather than opening up and digging in? Whether it’s a silly insurance claim or the status of our relationship or the perceived slight from our boss, there’s really ever only one way to really and truthfully know what’s going on. We have to just ask.

What can you just ASK about? (And also keep asking about, until you get to the bottom of it, until you find your Ray?)


Interested in having Erika’s blog come directly to your e-mail each Tuesday? Have comments to share?  E-mail her at erika@tlpnyc.com.   Find all her previous blog posts at www.tlpnyc.com/author/erika



Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.