What’s Free?


I don’t write about politics because there is absolutely nothing fabulously funny about it. But the reality is, I have to live under the rules put in place by those who engage in rhetoric-rhetoric designed to make me believe that I’m getting something that I’m not.

Spring is the time of year when I take advantage of the free health prevention granted to me by a certain rhetorical Act.  It’s actually quite funny given that I pay a heluva lot of money to a company who says I can have something free simply because someone else told them to give it to me for free.  And then, someone else figured out how to beat the system and made what was supposed to be free but really wasn’t, not free.

Let me explain. My doctor moved to China.  I don’t think it was because of anything I did, but I was without a doctor so I had to find a new one.  I began with my health insurance company’s ‘Find a Provider’ web page.  I set the geographic limit, gender requirement, and specialty and hit the search button.  The names of three providers appeared on the webpage.  None of them met my standards so I extended the geographic limit, downgraded the specialty, and tried again.  I found one viable option who accepted new patients and picked up the phone.  My call was met with an ‘all circuits busy please wait and try again’ message.  I got tired of waiting and trying again later so I decided to use the ‘make appointment now’ link on the website.  I filled out the form, added a note saying this was my prevention visit, and sent it along with my preferred appointment date. A couple of hours later I got a phone message from the office.  The chosen doctor’s gatekeeper said that she had received my online request for an appointment.  Then she read a phone number and told me to call it in order to make an appointment. It was the same number that led to the ‘all circuits busy’ message.  I was so glad that I took time to use the online appointment system because it got me nowhere.

I moved on to coding, which has been a real pain in my ass ever since free prevention became a thing. I was determined to avoid more ass pain so I called the insurance company and asked what would be covered as part of my free visit. The lady replied, “Oh I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to call the doctor’s office and request the codes they will use when they bill your visit.  Once you get those, call me back and I’ll look them up.” Again, I got nowhere.

The next step was to change the name of my primary care provider from the one who moved to China to the one I can’t reach because the circuits were busy.  I had to make sure the name was correct in the system otherwise, I’d be charged a fee for my free visit and my free visit would no longer be free. I entered my username and password and got a message that said that was not my username and password. I knew it was so I tried again, but I still couldn’t get in. I had to call another phone number, explain the situation, and have my account so that I could get in and change the name. Three hours in, I finally got somewhere-I changed the name and my free visit would be a free visit.

I know, it’s time to wrap this fabulously funny story up because it’s starting to drag on.  Trust me, as the process went on, I wanted to wrap up a few people and drag them somewhere, but I kept going.  I needed an appointment and I was going to get one. I made one my last attempt and finally got through to the scheduler. I told the lady what I wanted, she got all my information and then said, “I have to tell you something.  That doctor is not accepting new patients.”  “But according to the insurance website, she is,” I said. “Well she isn’t,” said the lady, “And I have to tell you something else.  The doctor will not do your free prevention visit as your first visit. You will need to make one appointment as your new patient visit and a second appointment for your free prevention visit.”

Let me decode the rhetoric for you.  I have to pay the insurance premium to get a free visit because someone said it should be free. Then I have to pay the doctor for one visit so I can get the second visit free. If I were to do this, which I am not even though I changed the name of my primary care provider, the visits would be the same because nothing is wrong with me. And all of this hinges on use of the correct secret codes-the codes that nobody can share. Now you tell me, what’s free?

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and be sure to have a green one for me as you share the laughter!

Eliza G.



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