Monday, November 13, 2006

Medical Insurance Fraud, or Why the House Isn't Clean

Feeling all motivated and on-top-of-the-world after my coffee this morning, I decided to do some serious house cleaning to surprise Gina when she returns from DC on Wednesday. I've learned a simple truth after all these years: house clean, good-mood Gina; house not clean, time to get out of dodge...

No shortage of places to start--piles of junk everywhere. Now I know that 95% likely I could toss stuff in the trash, never miss it again, and feel a liberating rush of progress. Unfortunately I always get stuck on the 5% chance that it'll come back to screw me.

Take this stupid thing for example, which is the first item I encountered in my house-cleaning frenzy. What you see in the picture is basically a little ice chest and a cheapo electric pump and some rubber tubing. After waking from my clavicle-repair job in June, this contraption was strapped onto my shoulder keeping it cool. Nobody at the hospital ever said anything about it, and I didn't ask. When you first come up from anasthesia, you aren't at your mental best.

Anyway, I quickly discovered the thing doesn't really work, the motor is noisy, and it's a pain to be tethered to an electrical outlet. I never used it after the first day.

Three days later I get a call from some place I'd never heard of and they're asking how I'm feeling and if the Iceman is working. The what?!? Well it turns out the call is from the little company that makes the ice chest, so I tell them I don't use it and they can have it back. They tell me to just leave it on the porch and they'll pick it up later that afternoon. So I put it out there. Two days go by and nobody ever came to get it, so I brought it back in and promptly forgot about it.

That is, until the insurance company let us know that they were being billed $1,000 by the little Iceman company, and that they weren't going to pay a penny of it. Good, they shouldn't pay. It's fraud. That thing couldn't cost more than $50 or $60 to make. I used it one day. They apparently don't even want it back. At the time I got all worked up anticipating a battle if they tried to bill us directly. I would refuse to pay and threaten to expose such obvious fraud by showing the world the $1,000 ice chest. They would quietly back down but continue trying to rip off other, more-gullible insurance companies. That was three or four months ago. We haven't been contacted yet by the Icemen.

But you see my dilemma, don't you? As soon as I get rid of the stupid thing, I will certainly get a bill for $1,000 dollars and I'll have no way to fight it and expose the fraud. If I keep it, I'll probably never hear from them.

So I just got on with my day, without any house cleaning.

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