Paper and Notes, the Protectors Against Insurance Nightmares


Do you ever have one of those nights when you can’t sleep and you wind up aimlessly surfing around on the Internet? I just had one of those courtesy of a violent allergic reaction to a protein shake. I didn’t wind up in the emergency room, but I have a new appreciation for the words “itching” and “swollen.” In a rather perverse moment of misery and boredom at 2 a.m., I did a Google search for “insurance horror stories.”

I’d like to tell you I wasn’t fascinated, in the way people who gawk at auto accidents are fascinated, but that would be a lie. Many — in fact the vast majority of these tales — involve health insurance. I read for two hours and I came away with one piece of advice to share with you.

When you are involved in a health crisis for which big insurance payouts are expected and needed . . . and you go to the hospital cafeteria and have a cup of coffee . . . and you put artificial sweetener in that coffee . . . save the little paper packet it comes in, because paper is everything.

Yeah, I know, that’s an exaggeration, but the “paper is everything” part is my real point. I don’t care how much we’ve been promised a paperless world, or how much the Obama administration is trying to get all our medical records computerized – an idea I both understand and that scares the heck out of me — if you can’t document everything, and I do mean everything, you’re not going to get the payout you deserve.

I also saw people time and time again saying, “If only I had taken notes.” Or, “If only I had asked my husband/wife/significant whatever” to take notes. Confusion is the insurance company’s friend. They’ll keep talking until you don’t believe what you know happened.

As it turns out, my late night miserable surfing was pretty instructive in a very simple, practical way. If you don’t believe me, run the search and read a few of the tales.

Oh, and don’t drink anything with the words “cherry blast” on the label.

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