Friday, September 4, 2009

Better at Being a Grown-Up

Back in December, I blogged about how horrible I was at being a grown-up. I hadn't been to the doctor (regular and lady doctor) or the dentist in about two years. After learning that I needed a root canal due to my lack of regular check-ups, I shaped up.

I shaped up and I learned a few things.

If I could go back and do it all over again I would have made doctor's appointments the same day I got new insurance at my job. One of the reasons I never made doctor's or dentist's appointments in the first place was because it was so overwhelming. How many doctors are in Manhattan? How do you find a good one? One that takes your insurance? That's close to your office so you can go at lunch? You ask your coworkers, that's how you find the right one. When I finally told one of my coworkers how bad I was at being a grown up, she hooked me up with all of her doctor's names and contact information.

My root canal involved several visits to the dentist. Therefore it included paying the dentist's office each time and then receiving several bills later. But wait, they weren't bills. They were explanation of benefits (EOB) notices. This is when I had to call my mother. She explained to me that an EOB outlines how much your insurance pays for a procedure or visit and how much you, the patient, are required to pay.

"Mom," I said. "It says here that I only had to pay $250 for the root canal but I paid $380."

My mom further explained how important it is to review every EOB. She told me that doctors and dentists will often overcharge patients because so many do not review their EOB and the amount of money they receive from insurance companies is not as much as one would think. I was furious. I felt taken advantage of. I was a sweet, little 20-something who hadn't been to the dentist in ages and they knew I had no idea what I was doing.

All I had to do, she said, was call the dentist and tell them I was overcharged. I called and the immediately said it was a "mistake" and the amount would be credited to my next visit.

This is one of them many things I wish they would teach you in college.


Nicole said...

I guess that was one good thing about living at home my first year out of college with my first "real" job... my mom was there every time the mail came and was able to explain everything right away. I don't know what we'd do without our moms!

Heather said...

The same thing happened to me after my dentist appointment. The insurance company said the dentist was overcharging me on purpose since they couldnt write the full amount off. The dentist still charged me. This is why I dont use them anymore!

I hate insurance companies and doctors in general. Its been a negative experience from the get go. They need to have life classes if high school/college.

Girl About Business said...

OMG! This sounds soooo familiar! I hadn't been to the dentist in years, and when I finally went last September I learned that I had several cavities and needed a root canal (which I just had done a week ago).

It's also been about 2 years since I've seen a lady doctor, and I went a good year and a half without visiting the eye doctor! And I've had insurance for 3 years... I think I may have a minor phobia of doctors or something. I feel like they're only around to tell you when something is wrong, so I dread going!

We're in the same boat, so don't feel bad. We're bad at being grown up, well at least we're learning!

Cheong Hao said...

I am quite lucky. Except for getting my teeth check 5 months ago, I havent been to a dentist for more than 10 years. That time was also because I need to go overseas so had to take the check up. I never know they would take advantage of such a thing. OMG.

Katie said...

I used to work for a benefits communication company ... boy, was there soo much to learn!! And each company is soo different. I wrote employee newsletters and benefits brochures about all that stuff -- and I still don't feel like I know everything. Kudos for figuring it all out!

Mrs. D said...

Trying to find a good doctor is tough - especially when you're new in town and don't know anyone who can refer you to a decent one.

I so feel you with the insurance troubles, although it's been on the end of the insurance company, not on the doctor side. I have spent probably 30 hours on the phone with insurances agencies and HMOs over the past few years. It is ridiculous the kind of crap they try to pull. My last insurance liked to deny my claims because the hospital billed under a slightly different name than the insurance company had listed. (Like Town Hospital vs. University of Town Hospital) My head nearly exploded trying to get through it. Dealing with insurance should definitely be a college course!

Mandy said...

I hate finding new doctors!! And where I live, there are few lady doctors, so it's on a referral only basis, and very hard to get an appointment.

I work at a dental office, and I know all about those EOBs. Blegh. I've spent five minutes trying to figure out what some insurance companies are actually paying! Good job on figuring yours out.

Baby said...

EW. greedy bitches!

I so agree. I blame my lack of insurance for my being a bad "grown up" and never ever going to the doc.

NINA said...

You have been nominated for the kreativ award.
check out my latest post for more details!

Magchunk said...

Now I appreciate my dentist even more! They just send me a bill after the insurance company sends the notice. So I never pay in the office. They are also really good at making sure my procedures are pre-approved by my insurance and warn me if there may be an out-of-pocket expense. The insurance girls tell my dentist "no xrays this time, she's close to her limit!" So worth the 40 minute drive!

Oh, and I didn't go for 3 years and then ate my insurance in 2 deep (painful) cleanings of tartar build-up and quarterly cleanings to get it under control. So if anyone hasn't been going, GO NOW! You'll regret it later.

Jessie said...

oh shoot! i never read those EOBs!! I better get on on that pronto!