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3 kittens

I volunteered you for something.

Posted on 2014.06.03 at 11:58
Well that was one hell of a weekend. We hosted a three day camping bender going-away party. Five families camped, another five families dropped in for parts. I had some intense panicking leading up to the party. We were the vessel; more aggressively social friends of ours were the party planners. Jammies talked me down from canceling major chunks of it.

(How did I cope? Self-centeredly. I just left when I was sick of people, or left the kid area when I was sick of kids, which was a lot. There were too many kids.)


I did not describe my doctor incident last week because it still makes me so furious.  As far as I can tell, I have no recourse.

I showed up for my monthly prenatal visit and the receptionist told me that I owed $400. "For what?" I ask, "Prenatal is finally free, because preventative."

"Your deductible is $2000, and you have to pay it off by the time you're 32 weeks," she answered. "So you owe $400 at each visit until then."

I told her I didn't understand, I hadn't run up any costs yet. She explained that this was in anticipation for my delivery charges in November. I said, "What if I spend my deductible elsewhere between now and November? I could get into a car crash and owe this money to the hospital." She promised that they'd refund their theft.

I was super-duper furious, but I also very much wanted to keep my appointment, so I was very much over a barrel.

Things I've found out:
1. This is super common, and probably illegal-ish, at least the part where they withhold medical care unless I pay. However, there is no recourse, is there.

2. From the OB, "Good luck going anywhere else. Everyone within an hour's drive has the same policy."  She also added, "I had a pregnant mother who left, and discovered that her new OB had a policy that was even stricter. She wanted to come back, but we wouldn't let her. Not after she left like that." I refrained from punching my OB in the teeth.

3. Also from the OB, "80% of all L&D delivery deductibles go unpaid. Whoever bills while there's still a deductible gets stuck eating the bill. It used to be that hospitals had to bill insurance within 30 days, and doctors had 60 days. So we waited until the hospitals filed, and then we filed, and the hospitals were stuck eating the deductible. Then the hospitals changed their policy, so they now have 365 days to file. So doctors had to eat the deductibles, and so we determined that patients have to pre-pay their deductible."  Also, "I have to put my family and the people that work for me first. Otherwise we'd go out of business, and that helps nobody."

I guess my anger should be rightly focused at insurance companies and the criminally kleptomaniac concept of a deductible, altogether. "If we make patients put some skin in the game," say the insurance companies, "then they will be more economical seeking out medical treatment such as delivery for their baby." Why do we all pretend that this is not just outright corruption?

But also: co-pays on preventative care are now illegal precisely because they discourage people from seeking preventative care. And they're slamming on a $400 fee, attached to preventative prenatal care, by virtue of the fact that technically it is not a co-pay or cost-sharing measure. Which is probably twenty times higher than a typical co-pay, and will absolutely discourage women from getting prenatal care. The whole thing makes me livid.


Entirely separately, my insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield) is in a fight with our hospital, and so I'll have to go to an entirely different town to deliver. "Don't worry," says the OB, about the other hospital where she has applied to have admitting privileges, "It will definitely be built and operational by the time you deliver."

Entirely separately yet again, I've developed an intolerance to sugar. I get very queasy and acidic feeling afterwards. In hindsight, I've had this every first trimester but never put my finger on it before. This is the first time it's lasted this long, though. My mom is sugar intolerant, and has the same reaction, except hers is chronic, and began when she was a teenager.


My friend (who is moving away) said this: "Heebie, you have great boundaries. You are just great at putting a boundary where you want it." I am so tickled by this compliment. Yes, you are not getting closer to me than I want you to.

My boundaries were strained like so: during the party, across a room, a friend called, "I volunteered you for something!" I asked what, calling back across the room. "I've got these two former foster care college students who are totally frightened of college algebra, and they need just the right tutor!" she called back. Everyone was now quiet and listening. She went on, "You're a great personality match for them! They need someone just like you!"

In my head, I'm thinking this is a terrible idea. Committing to get someone through a class is a big endeavor. She continued, "Just an hour a week, I think! That's all they'd need!"

It's possible that someone with low self-esteem but basic proficiency would only need an hour per week. It's also possible that my personality is a dazzling fit for these students. But I feel mostly pressured. And everyone is listening and it seems so reasonable to give - just an hour a week! - to the former foster care college students. (And how do we know that an hour a week would be sufficient? We do not. And it usually is not.)

I actually do not enjoy tutoring math at all.  To do it correctly involves focusing all your attention on the student as they work problems, but saying and doing very little. This is like watching paint dry. Whenever someone really enjoys tutoring math, I assume they're doing too much of the talking and explaining, instead of just giving the student the barest of clues to keep them from spinning their wheels unduly. A good tutor is like cairns on a hiking path. It's really dull to be a cairn.

Furthermore, I don't teach at this university. I've never taught out of their textbook, I won't know their instructor, and so on. Furthermore, it won't be an isolated hour per week. It will be a new routine that I have to navigate with people I don't know, and I'm feeling particularly antisocial lately. Friendly faces will have to be put on and I'll have to put these young students at ease.

Hopefully, reader, part of you realizes that I am being an asshole. These girls have had an extraordinarily hard life, and college algebra is frightening, and I have skills to help them out.

What I said was, "Let's email. I will definitely make sure these girls get connected with someone who can really give them the kind of help and support they need."  What I sounded like to everybody, including myself, was "Here is a face-saving measure because I transparently just want to be left alone." The moral of the story is that there is a fine line between having good boundaries and being an asshole.


On Saturday night, overlapping with the camping bender, an out-of-town friend arrived until Monday evening. I need that isolation chamber, stat. Also on Monday we rented a moving van and packed up most of the front of the house.  Kitchen renovation and wallpaper extravaganza is imminent.


(Anonymous) at 2014-06-03 17:45 (UTC) (Link)


I thought prenatal wouldn't be part of the deductible either but the doctor's office had me pay $400 last time for it, and it was apart from the $400 delivery fee I paid. I might call them and argue.

Who volunteers a pregnant woman with three kids for anything? The people in the room should have been thinking that your friend is crazy presumptuous.
(Anonymous) at 2014-06-03 17:46 (UTC) (Link)

Re: insurance

that was me

heebie_geebie at 2014-06-03 19:11 (UTC) (Link)

Re: insurance

They were arguing that my deductible wouldn't get tapped until delivery, but that I'd owe the full 2K for the delivery costs, and that I had to pre-pay that by 32 weeks.

Good point about my presumptuous friend! She's one of these eternally sociable people who has no internal threshold for getting fed up with people. I figured that played into it.
rebeccastob at 2014-06-04 01:31 (UTC) (Link)
Hmm - I also would think that is pretty presumptuous to volunteer a pregnant women with 3 kids. That weekend sounds like kind of fun but also kind of a nightmare.

My nanny just up and left to China with no notice - so I'm scrambling to find childcare and I am just so pissed at Eric because he basically drove her away by being a selfish asshole with terrible boundaries. I finally got to my breaking point and told him (over text) that a 19 year old fiancee from Vietnam is something that everyone was judging him for and was legit creepy (which thankfully never came to pass)

So that is pretty dramatic and my mom is coming on friday to help out for 2 weeks which is nice of her. But right now I am kind of a hot mess. I also worry about whether I will be able to have my every 2 week casual sex date while she is here - what is the ettiquette of that?

Ugh - that is pretty annoying about the office collecting for the deductible. The whole prenatal/delivery thing is complicated because it's actually a global package for everything. When I had an OB for just the delivery - they tried to charge me for the global package and I called up customer service and schooled them on which CPT codes to use.
heebie_geebie at 2014-06-09 19:14 (UTC) (Link)
Oh jesus, that is a lot to juggle. Sex is important; I hope there's some face-saving strategy to keep your routine intact. The other person's place?
parodie at 2014-06-04 09:47 (UTC) (Link)
Your response to being voluntold is brilliant. Absolutely spot-on, gold star. Allows you both to save face despite the fact that she ambushed you in a room full of people. You should teach workshops.

The Dr/deductible thing is insane, but perhaps because of my outsider's (non-US) perspective I have no useful advice. Can you talk to a lawyer or a politician or someone else and channel this (very appropriate) rage into some sort of action? Can you call up the insurance company and give someone a dressing down? What a mess.

I can relate both to the fun of having people over and to needing space away/downtime alone. One of the ways I knew my partner was a good fit was that spending time together didn't make me itch for a few hours by myself in my own space - quite rare.
heebie_geebie at 2014-06-09 19:20 (UTC) (Link)
Similarly - one of the ways I realized Jammies and I were a good fit is that I was okay living with him. I absolutely adored living alone for about eight years, and I wasn't at all sure how I'd do with any roommate whatsoever.

The OB thing is in a stalemate at the moment - it seems to hinge on whether or not I want to stay with this OB. If I decide to go elsewhere, then I have to get my $400 back somehow, so I think a letter from a lawyer would be in line, and probably a letter to the editor, to somehow help the mothers who might be really screwed by this policy.

The main problem is that there's nowhere else to go. I called 1-2 other places in town, and verified that they do have the same policy. There'd be compatible places up in Austin, but there's definitely no guarantee that I'll have enough time to make it up to Austin when it's time to deliver. And if I end up staying with this OB, then I'll probably just tamp down my monthly $400 rage.

Any developments on your end?
parodie at 2014-06-10 08:31 (UTC) (Link)
No, nothing yet here. Patience is hard.
With any luck I will soon have to figure out the system here and find my own doctor, but so far no need (I haven't looked all that closely at what our insurance covers - leftover from socialism, I suppose, but I hear it's "good insurance" so hopefully that's enough).
(Anonymous) at 2014-06-17 23:15 (UTC) (Link)

Yay for you!

Better for the girls anyway for you to help them find appropriate resources than for you to stretch yourself too thin and not be able to actually help them. Your way is better.
(Anonymous) at 2014-06-17 23:16 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay for you!

says Thorn.
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