“If you change a patient’s appointment don’t forget to enter a reason why in the comment field. Do you know, is he a H.M.O., P.P.O. or P.O.S.?”
“Probably a P.O.S.” I thought, chuckling as I kept the double entendre to myself. With that, the receptionist looked up.
“Hi, may I help you?”
“Yes, I’m here for my 2:45 appointment.”
She looked at her computer screen again.
“Bad weather out there today, huh? Did you hurt yourself shoveling?”
“Sure did. I’ll bet you’re seeing lots of people for that, huh?”
“You’re the first today,” she said matter-of-factly as if to want to make me feel even older. “Here are a few forms I’d like you to fill out. Would you like to sit down?”
“Uh, I’m sorry. It feels better if I keep standing right now.”
I looked at the clipboard she handed me. Six pages of fine print paperwork: one page for demographic information like my name, address, date of birth, insurer and so on and, what, my social security number? Hmm. I wonder what bank accounts they could open with all of this information? The opposite side of the page for brief background medical history – all meant to reassure that someone actually looks at this stuff, but more likely to entrap me for possible insurance fraud if I should lie or forget something, I thought.
The next four pages were ludicrous examples of the follies of bureaucracy: a “Privacy Statement” (2 pages) and explanation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and what it means to me – carefully juxtaposed to the pages containing my entire life and medical history, social security number, date of birth, etc. Bureaucracy to Content ratio: 3 to 1. What a waste, I thought. Pages and pages of text were provided just to explain an obscure and effectively meaningless document to the average Joe, just so my information can whir about cyberspace with nary a liability concern to the Great Third Party.
I stood in agony as I completed the forms; most of which had nothing to do with facilitating my care.
Rather, it was all about jostling for the few dollars afforded by my insurer because in the eyes of the rehab facility and our health care system, I had become an opportunity to collect.
And as I looked down to replace my insurance card back in my wallet, I saw it. Up in the upper right-hand corner of the card. Like a piece of beef and in bold letters for all to see:
"Plan Option 3 - Choice P.O.S."