Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson?

Have you ever stopped and wondered how much room for error exists in the world?

Don’t do it.

Too late? My bad.

It’s scary to think about, right?

I had knee surgery in December and recently got a bill from the anesthesiologist. It was oddly worded, and of the columns available for filling in, it was made very clear that insurance had not covered any part of it and that the balance was my responsibility.


They said anesthesia wasn’t covered (as though anyone would ever opt to have surgery without it?) and the “pay this amount” box was glaring at me.

OK, so maybe my plans for plantation shutters could wait — although I wasn’t really ready to just roll over and send ’em my hard-earned cash.

The same day I received this bill, I received one from a place that had made my orthotics for my running shoes (which I’m now walking — not running — in). Long story short, I insisted the place who would be making them call multiple times to confirm they were covered, as they can be upwards of $600 and I wasn’t about to have them made if they weren’t (Dr. Scholl’s would have to suffice if that ended up being the case).

The orthotics people called three times, and each time they were told by my insurance that they were, in fact, a covered benefit. My portion was a mere $40. Not too bad.

Not bad, that is, until I opened the bill for them a couple of days ago — months after they’d been made — for another $400. On the bottom of the statement it read, “Service denied as not a covered benefit, Shannon, Ext. 1300.”

Thanks, Shannon.

I called my insurance folks today and asked how I could go from being told three times that orthotics were covered to suddenly having to pay for them. The nice gal who took my call had me on hold for a less-than-nice-but-ultimately-worthwhile 25 minutes while she investigated, and when she came back on, I heard the following: “I’m so glad you called – it was a system error. You’re completely covered, and we’ll send payment out today.”

A “system error”? Sounds more like it could’ve been a Shannon error to me.

At any rate, while I had her on the horn, I asked about the anesthesia bill. She did some poking around, looked some things up and came back on to say, “We actually sent payment to them a few weeks ago, and you’re only going to be responsible for $36.”


Completely glad I don’t have to hack off an arm or fork over a kidney to these people, but is the world really this out of whack?

Yes. The answer is yes.

I’ve been revisiting the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss album “Raising Sand” the last few days, and there’s a song on it called “Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson.” It’d been playing over and over again in my mind since opening these two bills, and I had almost resigned myself to the fact that my loss would be of the cash variety, and the lesson learned would be to never set foot in a doctor’s office or hospital ever again.

(OK, not that extreme, but you get the idea.)

After today, my new takeaway is this: allow your voice to be lost, and the ramifications could be far greater.

Fail to speak your mind to your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend and it could set you up for months of unhappiness or years of mismanaged expectations.

Fail to ask what something means because you don’t want to feel silly asking and it could set you up for a bad habit of continuing that trend for decades to come.

Fail to speak up when you know a situation is wrong and suddenly bad treatment is expected — and accepted.

Tonight I am thankful for not losing my voice, but instead for my choice to simply ask. It’s amazing how such a short word was able to yield a long list of things to keep in mind in the future. Human error or system error, it really is true when people say you are your own best advocate.

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