It's scary to be sick and not have access to health care.
The bills turned into demands and I wasn’t getting all that much better. I had been wearing an eye patch for a while and paying for my prescriptions with credit cards.
I couldn’t earn a living. I turned to public assistance; few state employees missed an opportunity to be cruel to me. I applied for food stamps, and was denied. My poverty buddies assured me that was just the first step toward getting them. Unregistered mail goes unopened, Take names, kick ass.
Public health insurance seemed to operate on the same principle. You don’t get it just because you qualify. We elect legislators to enact laws that create social programs administrated by employees who write their own rules.
Sometimes the dealer calls "joker's wild" and deals you a hand. You can make a wild card anything you want. I get a lot of 'em.
After a volley of applications and rejections from "Network Health" (the applications are unedited for punctuation or grammar, our answers can be rejected this way or that). I got lucky. Sent along with my rejection letter was a list of four other Ma. residents slated for same. Names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and the reasons for their rejections. Ace's high.
Now I had something to bargain with, but as The Wicked Witch of the the West will tell ya', "these thing must be handled delicately".
The voice mail system at this health care provider did not provide an opportunity to leave a message. In order to play my card, I had to think outside the in-box. I called another local agency located in the same building and asked for the number "upstairs". I got the public health insurer's unlisted phone number; I felt good for the first time in a long while.
When I called the guy who answer refused to give his name.
"How did you even get this number?" he demanded.
"I have a lot of numbers I'm not supposed to have" I demurred.
I explained about the egregious breech of patient confidentiality and that I wanted to speak to someone one with enough authority to give their name. No one likes a smarty pants, but when you look like a pirate, you can become a cut-throat.
I was transferred to another guy with a name. He asked for the proof. "I haven't decided what to do with my evidence" I said. "I want to make sure my file is processed without prejudice after I blow the whistle. I need an advocate. Should my advocate come from within your office or outside"?
Nervous as a pudgy drunk after last call, he offered himself to me.